@Facebook and the F8 Conference is causing a stir on the internet the past few days since opening it’s developers and users up to new tools and the open social graph. These are tools by which Facebook can keep a track on it’s users; ever more so than before. The clash of the titans is just beginning and it’s very exciting to keep abreast of what’s happening.
While i admire Facebook, especially Mark Zuckerberg and his company’s insightful strategy to socialize the web outside of facebook there is more that’s at stake to the upper echolon of these companies. That’s control and dominance over the world wide web. It’s data that everyone is after, data, data, DATA. Data in it’s raw form means nothing, it’s what the engineers do with that data is imporant. The Rumpus has a great interview with a former employee at Facebook; and these aren’t just your average folks, they are total geniuses.
While I remain speculative about the future of Facebook two things are clear to me: (a) most people think of companies like Facebook and Twitter as benevolent. Users tend to trust these companies to a high degree, like the blind leading the blind. (b) Developers are going to have alot of cool new stuff to work with, they’re going to have the most fun not us. The release of new APIs allows these developers to build innovative products and services for cosumers.
However, it’s important for us (as end users) to have both views on the two faces of facebook and judge for ourselves, and that’s essentially what this post is about. After all without people there would be no social networks.
Aza Raskin points out that our identity is too important for just one company to own, and that’s precisely the point. Our social graph in it’s entirety perpetuated with the new social plugins (likes, etc) all point back to Facebook database. With data centers across the US and the world it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s happening.
Referring to a piece by the @thefastertimes it makes you wonder about the real value that Facebook appears to be adding.
But in the process (of adding value to social), Facebook controls our identities with no relationship to our true identities online – that list above from email addresses to blogs to photos. Indeed, I’d argue that Facebook separates us from our trueidentities, for that is in Facebook’s favor; it gives Facebook control.
The obvious privacy issues as well have been a main concern revolving around this titan for many years, remember the Beacon Project which got discontinued? @MattCutts A Google employee tweets:
I just deactivated my Facebook account using the guide at http://goo.gl/rhpE Not hard to do & you can still revive it later.
Which brings us to another relevant point. How Open is really Open? Perhaps not as open as you think as @rizzn reports:
3) Facebook, with the Open Graph API, will force every private silo of data to do what Facebook itself refuses to do: Open up. This is probably the most key takeaway anyone who’s a fan of Open can come away with from this keynote, and probably something that was the most glossed over by everyone I talked to today. In case you missed it, it’s a move by Facebook, using their market-dominant position in terms of the social web and attention, to force content sites like Pandora, IMDB, Last.FM and even basic content developers, to use principles of the Semantic web to expose the data in their silos (i.e., on the profile page for Green Day, tagging and category data is exposed in the HTML on Pandora’s website). By contrast, Facebook exposes some data via their API, but not in a truly Open sense in the way that Google or even Twitter do.
If you dig a little more there’s more to the story. In reference to Dr. Arnab post @SarahinTampa gives us more insight on the like button and how you can trick people into liking a story, even pages they haven’t visitied. This could perpetuate a fear users not to use the like button as well as give spammers and content farmers new methods to fuel their deceptive crafts. @marshallk briefly posts that other companies are onto this, thus giving rise to OpenLike: All-Star Team to Challenge Facebook’s Expansion.
Keeping an open mind and looking at the facts is the best way to understand what’s really going on, and that’s exactly what i’m trying to do here; in spite of all my recent activity on the world’s largest and most dominant social network.
While i’ve cited my own thoughts and perspectives from people whom i admire I ran across this comment just now which gives us a different perspective all together:
Are you saying that Facebook chose new meta tags to make people edit their web pages so they find it convenient to add a Like button in the process ?
I actually think the reverse is going to happen. People will want to add Like buttons and in the process of doing so they will enrich the web with semantics. Publishing compelling information about your site to a large audience is really good motivation.
Any site can read the meta tags. I am sure Google will and MySpace and anyone else wanting to present a richer experience for end users in an ocean of links.
I don’t think Facebook is opposed to using microformats either. There are many microformat lovers inside FB who will be championing this – so far adoption is not too widespread
Also I definitely think its important for people to NOT present this as a standard. Its a just a proposed protocol and we are encouraging a transparent process now that our contribution is announced.. this is the opportunity to work together and enrich the web.
If you look closely enough you’ll see that in many cases what appears to be isn’t what it really is. Or is it?