web analytics

On Facebook "owning" the web April 23, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Two days, a dozen articles read and a bunch of thought later and I still can’t figure out what’s so disturbing to me about Facebook’s new “we’re in your interwebz liking all your pages” announcement. To some degree I think it’s CEO Mark Z. I just don’t like the guy (and no, I’m not ruling out jealousy: the man is less than 5 years older than me and is worth $4 billion, who wouldn’t be jealous? *grin*) and my dislike was cemented when he needlessly (in my mind) called Facebook heaven, in so many words. Sacrilege aside, my personal experience with Facebook has been far from heavenly. Not all my friends are there and “everything” is far from how I want it to be.

But would I really care if, say, the founder of Foursquare called that service heavenly? I don’t really think I would, so I think my annoyance at that comment is just a mask of something deeper. But what?

Truth be told, I’ve never loved Facebook (I don’t love the design, the regular privacy changes make my head hurt, it seems to have database errors that only I seem to notice (unless items randomly disappearing from my stream is supposed to happen, which I think it might, in which case add “wonky relevancy algorithm” to my list of dislikes) and, well, aside from one or two people I’ve never really found it useful for keeping in touch with my social circle).

But should the dislike of a CEO and a few personal gripes really make me so disturbed by a company? It really shouldn’t, but here I am, disturbed by Facebook and their recent “we’re gonna be the center of the internet and we have half a billion reasons why” argument…nay, declaration.

I’ve been trying to think how I would react if Google or Twitter had suddenly announced a big internet-wide social graph hosted by them (actually, with the new “annotations” feature of their API, Twitter might be backdooring into this type of thing, as well). I think it depends on the implementation, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I would find it kinda disturbing. Most especially from Google, since they’ve never been able to get social right, and from Twitter I would just write it off as grandiose thinking, but FB has had massive success with social and is not exactly too small for this type of “grandiose” thinking. But I think maybe that’s what concerns me more than anything: the idea of any company being big enough to even be in the position of considering worming themselves into the center of the web like a parasite. Google is that big and every now and then I get a little concerned about how much power they have over the web, but they’ve got this whole “don’t be evil” thing which I honestly believe they try to follow. The minute I get the sense that Google has “turned” will be the minute that I stop defending Google.

Microsoft and Apple are also huge and have a ton of power, and I distrust both of them. My distrust of Apple has happened more recently and I still love their products more than I like Microsoft products (although I really can’t say enough good things about Windows 7, which I’ve been using, abusing and running 24/7 for 2 months and has crashed on me a grand total of once. Good on Microsoft for this one), but I deeply distrust Microsoft’s tries at social and I get too scared to think about the dozens of millions of people who Apple has an ironclad grip on the lives of (including myself with my MacBook and iPod Touch) and if either of them casually said “hey, we’re gonna become the center of the web because we have 500 million users and, well, we want to” I would have a freaking cow. And so would everyone else. That’s why I’m surprised at the relatively tepid response to the news from f8 from most of the tech web. My favorite line is, “well, like it or not, it’s gonna happen ’cause Mark Z has 500 million people on his side…so, why fight it?”.

Um, maybe because it’s evil?

2 Responses to “On Facebook "owning" the web”

  1. I would “like” this except your blog isn’t linked to Facebook and f8 taught me that there is no way to show my appreciation for content on the web other than pushing one of Facebook’s heavenly little buttons.

  2. [...] is EXACTLY why Google is (rumoredly) building Google Me. I’ve made no bones about my growing distaste for Facebook (or my love of Google, for that matter), so I would love to see Google go into the social space [...]

Leave a Reply