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Why Facebook's Network Effects Are Overrated 183

Posted by timothy
from the on-sober-reflection dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a contrarian take on the power of Facebook from hacker Benjamin Mako-Hill: "A lot of people interested in free software, and user autonomy and network services are very worried about Facebook. Folks are worried for the same reason that so many investors are interested: the networks effects brought by hundreds of millions of folks signed up to use the service. ... Facebook is vulnerable to the next thing more than many technology firms that have benefited from network effects in the past. If users are given compelling reasons to switch to something else, they can with less trouble and they will. That compelling reason might be a new social network with better features or an awesome distributed architecture that allows freedom for users and the ability of those users to benefit from new and fantastic things that Facebook's overseers would never let them have and without the things Facebook's users suffer through today. Or it might be a sexier proprietary box to store users' private information. It doesn't mean that I'm not worried about Facebook. I remain deeply worried. It's just not very hard for me to imagine the end."
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Why Facebook's Network Effects Are Overrated

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  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday June 04, 2012 @04:38AM (#40206827) Journal

    ... I registered for an account

    The few times I was there I felt uncomfortable

    Everyone was telling everybody else everything about themselves - their name, their phone #, their address, their hobby ... everything

    Maybe I'm just old fashion. Privacy for me is something very important

    I haven't been to facebook for years, and I don't miss it

  • by Lisias (447563) on Monday June 04, 2012 @05:48AM (#40207059) Homepage Journal

    I ended up using it by force.

    My son (that lives far away) and childhood friends are there, and just there (a managed to convince some of them to go to G+, but just a few).

    So basically I signup with my well known email and my first name - no other personal information added.

    No big privacy at all, I know. But better than nothing.

  • Perpetual Data (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2012 @05:58AM (#40207101)

    Facebook can turn this whole privacy thing on it's head with one smart business move - promise to keep your data public on the internet forever, if you pay for it during your lifetime. I have several dead friends now where the facebook pages they left behind are the best way to remember them, as they are full of pictures and movies and things they said and did. But there has never been a guarantee that the data will be there forever.

    If facebook started charging people a few bucks a year to guarantee their data will never be deleted, I think that would be an excellent value-add.

  • Re:Data ownership (Score:3, Interesting)

    by k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) on Monday June 04, 2012 @07:26AM (#40207461)

    So the ONLY way I could see FB going down is if they did the same dumbass mistake that MySpace did, and that was spamming the crap out of the users.

    I see two ways that FB could go down. First is when they run out of money because they couldn't monetize their xillion users. This could very well be the fear behind the stock price decline.

    Second is Facebook failing to provide a suddenly popular feature that another social networking site has. This feature can be anything from better-than-Skype video conferencing to practical telepresence.

    I suspect what allowed Facebook to leap ahead of MySpace was the Flash games. The bandwagon effect ensured that MySpace was left behind, as more and more users deserted a site that was becoming less and less cool.

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