Sometimes it’s nice to get away a few days, disconnect, and refresh the mind. And then you come back, and find out that Facebook wants to rule the world.
I was aware of the Facebook f8 announcements last week, but an impending vacation spared me the need to expend brainpower on it. I did not hop on this Facebook F8 story like all the other slathering Web 2.0 toadies out there. No, we’re not like this. This is supposed to be an analytical and skeptical source of information. So I will tell you: Facebook wants to take everything. Watch out or they’ll pick your pocket.
The heart of these new Facebook initiatives, loosely grouped as the “open graph,” is that if you “opt in” to Facebook’s new personalization tools, it will be able to track pretty much anything you do on the Web and your information relationships to other Facebook friends — and show it to other people.
Now, Facebook uses the term “opt-in” loosely. That’s because it has automatically opted in its hundreds of millions of users. Facebook apparently knows when and where you want to “opt.”
Here’s what I think about that: Boy, these Facebook people sure are greedy. They want to control everything. And most people who are trying to compete with them are pretty much screwed. Especially media companies and publishers. Many Facebook competitors for sure.
If you are a publisher or some sort of niche social network, you should be very, very careful of you you use the new Facebook APIs. Yes, it’s true, Facebook’s new tools will make it easier for you to “plug in” to social network. You may get more traffic. But guess what — who owns the data? Facebook. As soon as you hook into Facebook, you will be handing them over the keys to your kingdom. And you know Facebook wants to advertise to your users.
It’s all about the data. Google is about the data. Facebook is about the data. If you do anything on the Web that entails a service, content, and advertising, it’s about the data of your users. That’s your gold. And Facebook now wants to hijack all of the data on the entire Web. This is why Google engineers are freaked out about it. Geddit now?
So the big question is: Are users going to allow them to do that? Well, they already have. Because Facebook has decided by default that you are opted in.
Well, you say, the Web is already like that. Like Scott McNealy famously said, there is no such thing as privacy anymore. But I’m not just talking about privacy. Yes, the privacy freaks are going to have a cow about this. And you should really be concerned about which settings you’ve checked on Facebook. But I’m not just talking about that. I’m talking about business. Control. Owning things.
We are told now, over and over, that Facebook has 400 million users. It’s allegedly surpassed Google in total audience (I still have a hard time believing this). So the really already own a lot of stuff. But that’s not enough for the Zuck-man. Now not only does he want to own all these users, but he wants access to every single piece of data about where they go, what they like, and how they interact with the Internet.
Do you trust them? I don’t.