The State of Facebook and The Social Web

The only real issue I have with facebook privacy was the bug with the chat and other people being able to access it. Apart from that, I’m happy with the controls that they offer, and I feel that there’s nothing wrong with the current setup.

I think the issue people have is more about how facebook appear to be able to change the rules at any point and make what you set to be private as public without really consulting you first. I think that should only really be the case when you first sign up, to have all your settings defaulted to public, but for current users it should be defaulted to private first and let the individual choose what they want to do.

The other issue is whether or not facebook are selling your private data to advertisers or not. This isn’t a huge concern since I never click on any ads anyway. But for some people it will be a bigger concern and it may be the principle rather than the actual data being sold that’s the main point of contention.

I highly doubt that 60% are considering quitting. It’s a huge number of people and I would suggest that even 10% is unlikely unless a massive wave of mainstream support for abandoning the site takes place.

It kind of makes me a bit despondent at the whole social web that this is even being talked about. People wouldn’t quit using email because there was a privacy scare so what does this say about facebook? Does it say that facebook really is a fad just like myspace and that social networking is never going to be actually important, and more than just a gimmick.

I’ve said before that I would try not to get involved in another gimmick social network after facebook, but I just feel like I won’t be able to stop myself when it comes down to it. We’re all going to drift from site to site and they’ll all get too bit and ruin what made them great. Sure, I like playing scrabble on Facebook, but I would still prefer facebook to be pure social networking, devoid of apps and extras which make the experience bloated and confusing.

Twitter in principle is a simple service, and that’s one reason why I like it so much. Will they continue to keep it simple or will they ruin it by incorporating too many features into it? I very much hope they don’t, or at least they continue to innovate, but in a way that doesn’t add unnecessary features to the site.

I’m a strong believer in dedicated websites and services for individual tasks being the right way to go about things. No one will doubt Youtube, Flickr, Google Docs in their effectiveness to provide a great service. Facebook does a lot of things, but do we really want to have everything in one place? Is it really good for the web as a whole? I don’t see how it is.

Facebook to me is a fun way to share quick anecdotes with friends, some quick family snaps that aren’t professional enough for flickr or quick videos I just want to share with specific people. I even use it to communicate with friends via message rather than use email because it’s more personal feeling and quite easy to use.

Stuff like that, facebook really excels at, but there’s no denying the fact that the site is more of a gimmick than actually useful. All of the things I do there I can do elsewhere in an equal or better way.

I hope facebook manages to reassure users about their privacy practices as I don’t think they quite deserve the level of mainstream criticism that they’ve received. I also hope they do a good job of not making the site any more convoluted as it currently is. I don’t want to leave, but it’s nice to know I have other options should it’s popularity deteriorate, and just to be safe, continue to have your own place online to share your opinions, like this place.

Whatever happens in the world of social media, I don’t think having your own blog will ever go out of vogue. Just like writing a diary, blogging (although the term may eventually change) is here to stay and it’s comforting to know.

4 thoughts on “The State of Facebook and The Social Web”

    1. I have to say I disagree with your post in quite a few ways. I think you were being more critical of internet text communication and social networking in general rather than just facebook itself. I agree that text communication on it’s own is not ideal all the time and it’s nice to speak to people of course. But I also think that you can meet great people online in games and other ways and I have done. Facebook is a good way of maintaining contact with them and your other friends.

      Even though you already adress the point that you are a member of the site, I still can’t help but find that weird, especially when you have nothing good to say about it. I wouldn’t go as far as to call you a hypocrite though of course, I’m not in the business of insulting anyone.

      I’m a very honest person, and I talk to people in text quite a lot so I disagree there too. I think you just have to find the right people, and open up only when you build up a level of trust. I don’t have a lot of friends on FB and I only add people who I want to constantly talk to, not people I hardly know. I know I’m not in the majority there but at least that shows not all users are the same.

      On the other hand, it’s absolutely a way for shady types to do all kinds of terrible things so I agree there. But on the other hand, these people will use any means available to them to get up to no good. The site can do things to help protect its users, but education of young people in being safe online is really the most effective way of dealing with this.

      I think people who do those kinds of mean things to annoy or embarrass friends shouldn’t be on the person’s friends list because who wants friends like that. You can’t really blame the site for that either.

      So in conclusion, I think that it’s more the people and less the website that you have an issue with. I think, if used in the right way it can enhance your life socially, but just as long as you keep it in check and make sure it doesn’t become your social life.

  1. That’s a very sensible and well-balanced point of view. I think the problem is that Facebook is a bit like handing out loaded guns. It’s fine for good people but what about the bad? It facilitates nasty and bad behaviour.

  2. I don’t know. I really think it’s up to the individual to behave in an appropriate way.

    You could say the same kind of thing about alcohol or other similar things. I don’t drink and I think it’s awful how people abuse it and cause mayhem in various ways. You could say alcohol is the worst thing ever and should be banned, but then that wouldn’t be fair on sensible drinkers. Probably not the best analogy but still.

    Sorry for writing back too much, and thanks for the comment and conversation.

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