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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Time to Ditch Facebook?

The recent reports that Facebook rigged its own IPO are just the latest in a litany that collectively set my spidey senses on edge.  I associate with no other company that is simultaneously so slippery and opaque, but Facebook has managed to create a quasi-public space.  I use it to contact people I can't find otherwise (it's super handy for foreign breweries), stay in touch with friends--especially out-of-towners--and as a shingle for people to find me.  I'd lose a lot by cutting Facebook loose, and so I just whistle past the graveyard, hoping it will all work out in the end. 

If this describes your relationship to the company, I recommend this fantastic indictment by the New Yorker's Steve Coll. 
Zuckerberg’s business model requires the trust and loyalty of his users so that he can make money from their participation, yet he must simultaneously stretch that trust by driving the site to maximize profits, including by selling users’ personal information. The I.P.O. last week will exacerbate this tension: Facebook’s huge valuation now puts pressure on the company’s strategists to increase its revenue-per-user. That means more ads, more data mining, and more creative thinking about new ways to commercialize the personal, cultural, political, and even revolutionary activity of users. 
The thing is, not only has Zuckerberg not earned our trust, he's actively undermined it.   If Facebook weren't so valuable, we'd all ditch it in a heartbeat.  There's a ratio of useful:creepy with the site, and it's always been weighted on the "useful" side.  I'm wondering, with this IPO, has "creepy" overtaken useful?

Anyone else out there thinking of abandoning ship?


  1. I go back and forth about this all the time. If it weren't for the connections like you say, so useful and easy to do, on Facebook, I'd be gone. How to complain about a "free" service where the cost is privacy? We all know about it, and yet, choose to look the other way. Until the creep factor outweighs convenience and ability to duck the truth, I think we're all in like lemmings.

  2. I ditched FB last year. While being in touch with lots of people was convenient in some respects, knowing all the minutia of everyone's lives was just plain weird, especially since there were reasons I'd lost touch with most of my FB "friends" in the first place. I think FB is over-used by most people, and for that reason, I had become solely a FB spectator by the time I deleted my account anyhow. Not to mention that there are way too many security concerns with the way they handle user info. I use Google+ now, and am happy with it. Much better privacy policy, and at least they have other revenue sources other than selling personal info. From what I've seen, the postings are a bit less inane, too. Also the ability to control which "circles" you want to hear from is very nice.

  3. I've actually managed to avoid joining all of this time, so I'll be able to avoid leaving when everyone else does.

    But I do think that the 'Like' at the end of your post is deliciously ironic...

  4. I use it but not for real work or even beer blogging related stuff. Old friends and distant cousins are what it works well with. Pretending there is anything that really need what could be called a "social media strategy"? Not so much.

  5. Abandoned it a year ago. I'd rather buy rounds with genuine friends in a pub.

  6. Emily, should we jump together?

    Tim, thanks for pointing that out--it is delicious. (And if I do bail on FB, I'll probably leave it there.)

    Alan, totally agree. My posts are mainly about Portland weather and politics. I link to maybe one in ten of my blog posts--which in any case isn't a revenue generator. I do like being able to contact people that way. It's like having everyone's email (you don't even have to be friends).

    Ted, I'm sure I knew you were on it, but it seems like a terrible fit for you. You're an in-the-flesh, analog man.

  7. If people complained about important stuff with half the energy they complain about Facebook, the world could be a much better place.

    Don't want FB to monetise your private data? Easy, don't put any data you wouldn't like to be shared. I don't even have my real name there!

    PS: Anyone who thought the would become rich in a day or two from the purchase of FB shares was a moron...

  8. I absolutely do not want to be without FB. Too many remote connections that would otherwise not be viable. It it weren't for all those connections, and not all of them are beer-related, I might consider dumping it. I try to use privacy settings intelligently, but they keep messing with with all of it.

    Frankly, I think Facebook is HIGHLY overvalued as a marketing tool. Traditional marketing strategies are still relevant for most businesses. This IPO thing is just a big joke to me. I hopel their stock value implodes.

  9. I've never joined FB and see no need to. It always struck me as a new jacket on the same body. If I want to stay in contact with friends, I email or phone them. A year ago, I tried to contact an old girlfriend. I asked an old friend to help. He found her on Linkedin. As it turned out, I probably could have found her with Google.

    Marketing? No, thanks, my glass is already full.

  10. I jumped to Google+ to stay in contact with my family with shared photos and conversations while working abroad. I like that I can post to specific circles. I was only posting once a month on Facebook anyways.

  11. I had become solely a FB spectator by the time I deleted my account anyhow. Not to mention that there are way too many security concerns with the way they handle user info.

  12. Technically I have an account because I wanted to be invited to the beta period and it was required for entry, but I don't think I've ever logged in again.

    I find email and phone work well enough, and if I really need to track down an old friend from high school or whatever, I'm sure I can reach out to the handful of people I'm still in contact with and find them that way.

  13. Hmm, Myspace exploded on the scene then was extinguished by Facebook! Is Google+ the new Facebook? I only use Facebook for a game or two so I would not lose any sleep over NOT having an account!

  14. I am with Pete Dunlop to the extent that: 'I ... do not want to be without FB. Too many remote connections that would otherwise not be viable.'

    FBk is indispensable as a non-intrusive way up keep with family.

    FBk has proven to be the best source of information regarding the 10 breweries and 07 brewpubs in my area.

    Hyperlinks on tweets often link back to the associated FaceBook channel.

  15. I certainly don't use it as much as others but I find it helpful to find information on beer events, brewers and craft beer bars that don't seem to make it to websites.

    The price for that information is, of course, the privacy and name selling that Facebook does but if you periodically check your settings and don't click on their ads then you are staying "connected" for a smaller price.

    What I find more fascinating are the people on either side of the spectrum who use it constantly and those who hate it with a passion.