Posts Tagged 'Facebook'

The sociology of Facebook

There’s been a complaint lately in my household.  Facebook has gone ahead with yet another ‘improvement’.   It is now “simplified” which seems to be an acknowledgement that the last “improvement” was not such a great improvement.  At the same time, it is just as rigid and impossible to individualize as the previous versions.

There is an interesting article about Facebook in the current issue of the NYRB.  You can link to it here.  The writer, Charles Johnson, discusses many aspects of Facebook and its success — including the elitist beginnings at Harvard that still give the site a certain cache.

In Facebook he sees a company that can begin to take on Google in the online advertising world, assuming that the Facebook Connect feature is widely adopted.

Facebook Connect, if it becomes widely used across the Internet, would enable Facebook to sell ads not just on its own pages but elsewhere as well. Google makes its largest profits through “search advertising,” where a query for “insurance” will result in ads for companies such as Geico or Allstate. But Google has never been as successful at “display advertising,” the name for the ads that show up beside everything online—from party photos to news stories—where it’s not clear what, if anything, users want to buy. Facebook, with much more precise information about its members, will likely be able to sell far more effective display advertising than Google. Whether members will be disturbed by this expansion of targeted ads—a person who lists her religion as “Jewish” may see Jewish-themed advertising not just in Commentary magazine but on every Web site she visits—and whether ever more targeted advertising will turn members off the site—does listing a love for the Marquis de Sade mean you want ads for leather?—remains to be seen.

Is this the advertisers dream, the civil libertarian’s nightmare or both — or neither?  The more fundamental question is what happens when the economics fail?  Facebook is marginally profitable.  Twitter is not profitable at all.

In the World of Facebook – The New York Review of Books

The Facebook witness protection program

I will admit that after years of linked-in, friendster, myspace, second life…well…I’ve been wary of Facebook.  

Oh, I’ve been following it and playing with other people’s pages and so on.  But I’ve deeply resisted joining myself.  After a while the invitations were beginning to pile up.  When 4 out of the other 5 members of my immediate household invited me (we won’t allow the 5th to have a page because she’s too young)…well…it became a little uncomfortable around the dinner table.

So I put my face up there.

Soon more people began to invite me to be their friends.  I resisted accepting.  My sister got angry at me, my brother-in-law got angry at me, my cousin got angry at me.

You can get the picture.

Under pressure I accepted those. And then more came in.  Friends from high school, college, running.  Friends of cousins.  Cousins of friends.  It became overwhelming to keep up with everyone’s posts.

Then business associates began to send me invitations.

Do I accept?  Or do I ignore?  If I accept, then the wall between personal and business dissolves.  For the rest of my family and other friends, that can create problems.  And if I ignore, do I risk insulting people who I like tremendously and do business with?

After wrestling with this for over a month, I decided that it is okay to have some walls in life.  In fact, it is necessary.  The privacy of others can easily be compromised by my desire to be an open book.

I have now joined the Facebook Witness Protection Program.  

I will accept all invitations to Linked-in.  I will respond to all emails (  I will return your phone calls.  It’s just Facebook that is my walled garden.

While wrestling with these weighty questions, I came up with an idea for a new social networking brand.  Actually, it’s an anti-social networking brand.  You cannot invite anyone to be a friend.  And they wouldn’t accept even if you could invite them.  I’m naming it UnFriendster.

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