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Has the fall of the Empire begun?

We’ve talked a lot about Facebook on this blog before, both its good points and its bad, and for good reason: whatever you use the web for – social, leisure or business – having an FB presence is almost a necessity. Unless you are an established brand or person then driving traffic to your own website is always hard and FB can ensure that all of your “friends” are aware of what you or your company are doing. However, recently I have noticed more and more journalists, commentators and bloggers writing about how they are fed up with The Social Network.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is nothing to do with the tweaks and changes they have done recently. Love them or hate them you will probably soon forget them within a few months. Thats the way FB has always been and I kind of applaud them for it. Its their website and they will change it however best serves the most “customers” (more on the quotation marks later) and whenever they make a change to the UI there is a few weeks of people complaining and then everyone deals with it.

Its not even the issue of having your information and your “Likes” sold as an advertisers commodity. To be honest, its a free site with revenue coming from advertising – not irritating, pop-up, unavoidable advertising but ignorable button ads at the side of the page. If Farmville, Google or Aviva want to pay Facebook millions of dollars to find out I like playing games, surfing the internet and driving my car so that they can place an ad at the side of my FB page – which I completely ignore – then I am absolutely fine with it (I even had to check my FB page to see who the hell was advertising there!!).

He is our new King. Bow before him (via whistlernews.blogspot.com)

No, my issue, and many other people’s, is that too many companies are tying up with FB so that they are inextricably linked. There are already a multitude of apps, photo-sharing sites and games that require you to sign into them through your FB login but the latest – and some would argue the largest – of these has jut been announced at F8: Spotify. Now I am a huge Spotify fan and use it a quite a bit (not enough to get angered by their 10 hr/per month limit imposed a few weeks back) to listen to my own music collection as well as discovering new bands, songs and playlists. Unfortunately Daniel Eck, one of the founders of Spotify, announced this week that new customers would HAVE to have a Facebook account to join up. I appreciate that the ven diagram of FB users and Spotify users is probably a single circle, but its the idea that to use one service you have to be a member of a completely different service. AND that those services will not only share information but AUTOMATICALLY post your listening preferences. You listen to a bit of Shania Twain and all of a sudden all your friends will know. I’m not saying I listen to anything I am particularly ashamed of, this isn’t the equivalent of having your search history posted, its just not something I wanted, or apparently many FB/Spotify users wanted, especially without asking our express consent!

Going back to the “customer” comment before, its an old cliché but when it comes to web use that doesn’t stop it being true: if you’re not paying for it then you are the product not the customer. And that means when you agree to use a service, or services, then they can chop, change and generally share whatever they like.

So does that mean that the backlash has begun? Will we start to see the turning of the tide? Will next year show the first decline in facebook users? No. Of course not. We will get angry and we will stomp our feet and we will write articles and blogs about how much we dislike it. Some might even go as far as leaving FB altogether. But most wont. Most people will kind of forget about it and deal with it and get on with enjoying the services provided. I’m just starting, and starting is the optimum word there, just starting to get a little worried as to how far they can and will go. A future run by facebook where every company is tied into your profile, likes and interets. Will that be better than what we have? Will we benefit from it? I don’t know.

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The Author

Phil Dickenson

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