Yaba Yaba

what? another blog? you must be joking.

FaceBook is evil.

with 4 comments

FaceBook’s strategy may be genius, or it may be bonkers. I’m betting on bonkers – and praying for it too. Yes, privacy is dead, it has been for a while now. But this is taking it to an extreme. There an old line from an old radio sketch that comes to mind: yes, everyone pisses in the pool, but they don’t do it from the top of the jumping board.

Google has been serving me ads tailored for my behaviour for ages. Whether it’s adsense or the little clips on my gmail. Amazon tells me that people who bought this book also liked that one. The big difference is that whatever is personal, stays personal. No one tells my friends what I bought unless I do.

Mr. Zuckerberg thinks we’re ready to cross that bridge: hand over whatever is left of our dignity to the noble cause of making corporates richer. It kinda makes sense with the MS deal. Funny, how the same people who will go to great lengths to protect “their” intellectual property (read: DRM) are so eager to violate ours.

The irony is that FaceBook will fail, but not because the masses will awake. It will fail for the same reason that Friendster, Yahoo360 and so many of its predecessors failed: our short span of attention, and our low tolerance of bad products. And let’s say it once and for all: FaceBook is a crap product. Don’t give me the 800M users can’t all be wrong. They’re not. They came, had some fun, and will soon move on to something new. Why? Because FB gives you very little in terms of actual social value. Ok, you threw a fish at me, I joined your save the penguins cause. Now what? What does FB give me, in terms of managing my life, that email doesn’t? In fact, in most cases – it’s just a pain compared to email. Even the big API hoo-ha turned out to be an embarrassment. The only FB applications that carry any weight are those that point you to external services, like Zoho. Believe me, I’ve tried them.

Now google, that’s a different story. I can communicate with my friends with gmail, share document and edit them collaboratively, coordinate social activities with my calender and mailing lists. And you know what? I don’t mind their targeted ads, because their targeting actually works: most of the content that gets pushed my way is actually of interest (compare FB: I’m still getting dating ads. Please someone tell them I’m in a relationship, been happily in one for decades. Oh – that’s on my profile).

Mr. Zuckerberg is a genius social engineer, but as a software engineer he sucks. He was smart to start with college kids and expand upwards. He rode the wave of carnival for a year, now the party’s over. Which is why he’s resorting to hysterical business strategies.

(originally posted as a comment on


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Written by yishaym

November 10, 2007 at 2:02 pm

4 Responses

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  1. (appols for double posting – was logged is as a project, so reposting as Josie Fraser. Please do delete my first post! Best, J)

    I’m a bit more grumpy about Google’s services, but then I’m a pretty platform neutral kind of person. The most useful thing about fb for me personally has got to be events arrangement – but this only works because a few thoughtful people created a Firefox extension that pastes them on to my Gmail Calendar

    Social Value is a very hard thing to quantify, and the sad truth may well be that a lot of people care more about what level vampire they are than about data protection – however, we do have those laws in the UK, and fb are going to have to be careful that they are transparent and informative about privacy and permissions (in my opinion they’re currently conforming to the letter rather than the spirit).

    You’re right – all things pass – but that probably also applies to the current chunkiness of fb’s targeted advertising (surely advertisers must be the only people in the world who truly believe (or profess to believe) that better advertising is actually a service which secures freedom of choice).

    For me, the more interesting picture isn’t just about fb (or any other services) technical or functional specifications (although of course these are important) – it’s with the current everydayness of social networking services and practices, what this looks like & implies – and there’s no doubting that in the UK fb has really been instrumental in moving that sh


    November 10, 2007 at 3:10 pm

  2. Great post Yish and I agree very much. I really think your comment below is spot on:

    “Funny, how the same people who will go to great lengths to protect “their” intellectual property (read: DRM) are so eager to violate ours.”

    Thomas Ryberg

    November 11, 2007 at 10:20 am

  3. I agree with a lot of what you say, Yishay. However, for me, the main thing that Facebook gives me that I have not found anywhere else is the news feed from all my friends (and my news feed direct to them). Call me lazy but this allows me to keep in touch with many more people than I can through conventional means (like email or phone). This aside, the only other advantage of Facebook for me is playing Scrabble. Fancy a game? 😉

    Darren Pearce

    November 11, 2007 at 10:37 am

  4. I enjoyed reading this Yishay … a well composed swipe at FB with which I have some sympathy but I wonder if FB is trying to or will ever be a a serious productivity space. I don’t keep my FB account open for work related activity … for me it is completely social and as Darren mentions the newsfeeds of people’s activities do let you know friends are still ‘alive’ somewhere out there in cyberspace. What I do find difficult with FB is maintaining that differential … between professional and personal and as one person asked me a couple of weeks ago – should i allow my ‘boss’ to become my ‘friend’ – a very good question, What I find scary is the voyeuristic element and the lack of control I feel for who actually sees what and how ones activities on the site become part of ones digital identity and in this way become another area of online life that actually needs to be paid attention too … i.e. actually ‘managed’ or in other words part of the process of digital reputation management.

    Steven Warburton

    November 11, 2007 at 12:10 pm

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