Saturday, August 29, 2009

Must Read II

Facebook Exodus

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. Facebook, the online social grid, could not command loyalty forever. If you ask around, as I did, you’ll find quitters. One person shut down her account because she disliked how nosy it made her. Another thought the scene had turned desperate. A third feared stalkers. A fourth believed his privacy was compromised. A fifth disappeared without a word.

The exodus is not evident from the site’s overall numbers. According to comScore, Facebook attracted 87.7 million unique visitors in the United States in July. But while people are still joining Facebook and compulsively visiting the site, a small but noticeable group are fleeing — some of them ostentatiously.

Leif Harmsen, once a Facebook user, now crusades against it. Having dismissed his mother’s snap judgment of the site (“Facebook is the devil”), Harmsen now passionately agrees. He says, not entirely in jest, that he considers it a repressive regime akin to North Korea, and sells T-shirts with the words “Shut Your Facebook.” What especially galls him is the commercialization and corporate regulation of personal and social life. As Facebook endeavors to be the Web’s headquarters — to compete with Google, in other words, and to make money from the information it gathers — it’s inevitable that some people would come to view it as Big Brother.

“The more dependent we allow ourselves to become to something like Facebook — and Facebook does everything in its power to make you more dependent — the more Facebook can and does abuse us,” Harmsen explained by indignant e-mail. “It is not ‘your’ Facebook profile. It is Facebook’s profile about you.”

The disillusionment with Facebook has come in waves. An early faction lost faith in 2008, when Facebook’s beloved Scrabble application, Scrabulous, was pulled amid copyright issues. It was suddenly clear that Facebook was not just a social club but also an expanding force on the Web, beholden to corporate interests. A later group, Harmsen’s crowd, grew frustrated last winter when Facebook seemed to claim perpetual ownership of users’ contributions to the site. (Facebook later adjusted its membership contract, but it continues to integrate advertising, intellectual property and social life.) A third wave of dissenters appears to be bored with it, obscurely sore or just somehow creeped out.

My friend Alex joined four years ago at the suggestion of “the coolest guy on the planet,” she told me in an e-mail message. For a while, they cultivated a cool-planet online gang. But then Scrabulous was shut down, someone told her she was too old for Facebook, her teenage stepson seemed to be losing his life to it and she found the whole site crawling with mercenaries trying to sell books and movies. “If I am going to waste my time on the Internet,” she concluded, “it will be playing in online backgammon tournaments.”

Another friend, who didn’t want his name used, found that Facebook undermined his whole notion of online friendship. “It’s easy to think of your circle of ‘Friends’ as a coherent circle, clear and moated, when in fact the splay of overlap/network makes drip/action painting a better (visual) analogy.” Something happened to this drip painting that he won’t discuss. He said, “Postings that seem private can scatter and slip unpredictably into a sort of semipublic status.”

That friend was not the only Facebook dissenter who was reticent about specifics. Many seem to have just lost their appetite for it: they just stopped wanting to look at other people’s photos and résumés and updates, or have their own subject to scrutiny. Some ex-users seemed shaken, even heartbroken, by their breakups with Facebook. “I primarily left Facebook because I was wasting so much time on it,” my friend Caroline Harting told me by e-mail. “I felt fairly detached from my Facebook buddies because I rarely directly contacted them.” Instead, she felt as if she stalked them, spending hours a day looking at their pages without actually saying hello.

But then came the truly weird part: “Facebook was stalking me,” Harting wrote. One day, on another Web site, she responded to an invitation to rate a movie she saw. The next time she logged on to Facebook, there was a message acknowledging that she had made the rating. “I didn’t appreciate being monitored so closely,” she wrote. She quit.

Julie Klam, a writer and prolific and eloquent Facebook updater, said in her own e-mail message, “I have noticed the exodus, and I kind of feel like it’s kids getting tired of a new toy.” Klam, who still posts updates to Facebook but now prefers Twitter for professional networking, added, “Facebook is good for finding people, but by now the novelty of that has worn off, and everyone’s been found.” As of a few months ago, she told me, Facebook “felt dead.”

Is Facebook doomed to someday become an online ghost town, run by zombie users who never update their pages and packs of marketers picking at the corpses of social circles they once hoped to exploit? Sad, if so. Though maybe fated, like the demise of a college clique.

Points of Entry: This Week’s Recommendations

THE QUIT Put “Why I Quit” into Google, and the search engine proposes you look into both “Why I Quit Facebook” and “Why I Quit Church.” If you aim to be a lapsed social networker, wikiHow, the collaborative how-to guide, provides a useful step-by-step way to disengage, emotionally and practically:

AN INQUIRY You’re not the first to think it’s creepy to have your personal life commercialized. Jürgen Habermas has been especially eloquent about this. Start with “The Theory of Communicative Action.” Copies are available on Also interesting on this score: “The Purchase of Intimacy,” by Viviana Zelizer.

GET BOARD ONLINE Scrabble is alive and well in cyberspace. If you like Scrabble, try For backgammon:

Must Read

Ironically, I posted this to my facebook page:

The 12 most annoying types of Facebookers

  • Story Highlights
  • Facebook is a great tool -- and a reminder of why some people get on your nerves
  • Too many status updates read like navel-gazing diary entries, or worse, spam
  • A dozen of the most annoying types of Facebook users listed
  • Among them: bores, shameless self-promoters and people who send you quizzes
By Brandon Griggs

(CNN) -- Facebook, for better or worse, is like being at a big party with all your friends, family, acquaintances and co-workers.

There are lots of fun, interesting people you're happy to talk to when they stroll up. Then there are the other people, the ones who make you cringe when you see them coming. This article is about those people.

Sure, Facebook can be a great tool for keeping up with folks who are important to you. Take the status update, the 160-character message that users post in response to the question, "What's on your mind?" An artful, witty or newsy status update is a pleasure -- a real-time, tiny window into a friend's life.

But far more posts read like navel-gazing diary entries, or worse, spam. A recent study categorized 40 percent of Twitter tweets as "pointless babble," and it wouldn't be surprising if updates on Facebook, still a fast-growing social network, break down in a similar way. Take a CNN quiz: What kind of Facebooker are you? »

Combine dull status updates with shameless self-promoters, "friend-padders" and that friend of a friend who sends you quizzes every day, and Facebook becomes a daily reminder of why some people can get on your nerves. VideoWatch as Facebookers reveal bugbears »

Here are 12 of the most annoying types of Facebook users:

The Let-Me-Tell-You-Every-Detail-of-My-Day Bore. "I'm waking up." "I had Wheaties for breakfast." "I'm bored at work." "I'm stuck in traffic." You're kidding! How fascinating! No moment is too mundane for some people to broadcast unsolicited to the world. Just because you have 432 Facebook friends doesn't mean we all want to know when you're waiting for the bus.

The Self-Promoter. OK, so we've probably all posted at least once about some achievement. And sure, maybe your friends really do want to read the fascinating article you wrote about beet farming. But when almost EVERY update is a link to your blog, your poetry reading, your 10k results or your art show, you sound like a bragger or a self-centered careerist.

The Friend-Padder. The average Facebook user has 120 friends on the site. Schmoozers and social butterflies -- you know, the ones who make lifelong pals on the subway -- might reasonably have 300 or 400. But 1,000 "friends?" Unless you're George Clooney or just won the lottery, no one has that many. That's just showing off.

The Town Crier. "Michael Jackson is dead!!!" You heard it from me first! Me, and the 213,000 other people who all saw it on TMZ. These Matt Drudge wannabes are the reason many of us learn of breaking news not from TV or news sites but from online social networks. In their rush to trumpet the news, these people also spread rumors, half-truths and innuendo. No, Jeff Goldblum did not plunge to his death from a New Zealand cliff.

The TMIer. "Brad is heading to Walgreens to buy something for these pesky hemorrhoids." Boundaries of privacy and decorum don't seem to exist for these too-much-information updaters, who unabashedly offer up details about their sex lives, marital troubles and bodily functions. Thanks for sharing.

The Bad Grammarian. "So sad about Fara Fauset but Im so gladd its friday yippe". Yes, I know the punctuation rules are different in the digital world. And, no, no one likes a spelling-Nazi schoolmarm. But you sound like a moron.

The Sympathy-Baiter. "Barbara is feeling sad today." "Man, am I glad that's over." "Jim could really use some good news about now." Like anglers hunting for fish, these sad sacks cast out their hooks -- baited with vague tales of woe -- in the hopes of landing concerned responses. Genuine bad news is one thing, but these manipulative posts are just pleas for attention.

The Lurker. The Peeping Toms of Facebook, these voyeurs are too cautious, or maybe too lazy, to update their status or write on your wall. But once in a while, you'll be talking to them and they'll mention something you posted, so you know they're on your page, hiding in the shadows. It's just a little creepy.

The Crank. These curmudgeons, like the trolls who spew hate in blog comments, never met something they couldn't complain about. "Carl isn't really that impressed with idiots who don't realize how idiotic they are." [Actual status update.] Keep spreading the love.

The Paparazzo. Ever visit your Facebook page and discover that someone's posted a photo of you from last weekend's party -- a photo you didn't authorize and haven't even seen? You'd really rather not have to explain to your mom why you were leering like a drunken hyena and French-kissing a bottle of Jagermeister.

The Obscurist. "If not now then when?" "You'll see..." "Grist for the mill." "John is, small world." "Dave thought he was immune, but no. No, he is not." [Actual status updates, all.] Sorry, but you're not being mysterious -- just nonsensical.

The Chronic Inviter. "Support my cause. Sign my petition. Play Mafia Wars with me. Which 'Star Trek' character are you? Here are the 'Top 5 cars I have personally owned.' Here are '25 Things About Me.' Here's a drink. What drink are you? We're related! I took the 'What President Are You?' quiz and found out I'm Millard Fillmore! What president are you?"

You probably mean well, but stop. Just stop. I don't care what president I am -- can't we simply be friends? Now excuse me while I go post the link to this story on my Facebook page.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Apple Rumored to Buy Twitter

Yup, you heard it here first. Rumors have it that Steve Jobs (or whatever's left of him) is willing to pay up to $700 MILLION for Twitter. Yowza! Now there is a great partnership. But can't you already buy a Twitter app on the iPhone? Why would Apple need to own it outright? Hmmm....Jobs must have something big cookin'.

Blog Assignment Over!

So yes, my class has ended and I am therefore no longer forced to write 3 blog posts a week. While I feel some sense of relief, I also miss it! So at the request of my fans, er, fan I will continue to post although maybe not as often.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Must Read!

Thought I'd share a great article from a fellow's a teaser:

"It's the end of civilized human interaction as we know it and I just can't support that?" "Because...let's face it: we all have better things we could do with our time?"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ashton Kutcher is a Twit

Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you've heard about the Twitter battle royale between CNN and Ashton Kutcher to see who would be the first to have 1 million followers. Disappointingly, Kutcher was crowned King Twit as he reached the million mark on April 17 at 2:13 a.m. EST. CNN reached the milestone just thirty minutes later.

This ridiculous challenge began when Kutcher threw down the gauntlet and challenged CNN and its founder, Ted Turner, to the race. If he won, Kutcher promised to "ding-dong-ditch" (ring doorbell, run away) Turner's Atlanta mansion.

So why exactly should we care about this odd coupling? Is Kutcher even worthy of competing with the likes of CNN? Kutcher commented via YouTube post:

"[It will make] a huge statement about social media. For one person to actually have the ability to broadcast to as many people as a major media network. I think sort of signifies the turning of the tide from traditional news outlets to social media outlets."

Who knew Kelso was so smart?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Low Turnout for Facebook Vote

Facebook users were up in arms a few months back when Facebook sneakily changed its Terms of Use (TOS) to allow for ownership of all uploaded content, even from members who had closed their accounts. In response, Facebook opened up the rewritten TOS to a vote. Disappointingly, not many people showed up to to the virtual polls. Just over 650,000 people voted, with 74 percent choosing the new terms over the old ones. This is just 3% of Facebook's 200-million plus community. Facebook seemed disappointed as well and said so on its blog:

We'd hoped to have a bigger turnout for this inaugural vote, but it is important to keep in mind that this vote was a first for users just like it was a first for Facebook. We are hopeful that there will be greater participation in future votes.

This low turnout just doesn't make sense given the initial outrage Facebook experienced. The debate was quite public and forced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to almost immediately retract the TOS. So why the low voter turnout? Is it possible that these 650,000 voters were responsible for all the ruckus? Or did people simply lose interest once Facebook did the right thing and opened the decision up to the voters?

I'm not quite sure of the answer but I think this phenomenon of lack of youth engagement is an interesting one. Obama mobilized a nation and was able to lure swarms of young people out from their Playstation, Mountain Dew-fueled dens and into the voting booths. But now that they've cast their vote, what's next? This engagement level seems to have gone from 100 to zero overnight.

So if Facebook's initial wrongdoing was able to mobilize this youthful community, why weren't they able to carry this energy over into the voting process? That's the question Facebook execs are now being faced with (pun intended) and one they even attempted to address on their blog:

We made significant efforts to make voting easy and to give everyone the opportunity to vote — including by translating the documents and voting application into several of the most popular languages on the site, showing a message about the vote on users' home pages, and running advertisements and videos across Facebook promoting the vote.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Social Dysfunction

According to a recent CNN article, therapists say they're seeing more and more people suffering from Facebook addiction. These people are ignoring their children, their jobs, their "real" life, in favor of the social networking site. Therapists say that the site is not the problem, the diconnection from real life is the true culprit. These "addicts" note how wonderful this virtual world can be and how people tend to put their best face forward. "Facebook is a fun, pleasant, happy, beautiful world. People only present the crème de la crème of their lives on Facebook. And these people want to be your friends! It's very seductive" notes one addict.

CNN provide a checklist of symptoms that may indicate whether YOU are a Facebook addict:

1. You lose sleep over Facebook

2. You spend more than an hour a day on Facebook

3. You become obsessed with old loves

4. You ignore work in favor of Facebook

5. The thought of getting off Facebook leaves you in a cold sweat

I can honestly say no to all of the above. However, I'm worried that I may have a slight addiction to "Social Network Reject." Why do you ask? Here are five signs that you may be an anti-facebook addict:

1. You stick your finger down your throat and pretend to vomit everytime someone mentions Facebook

2. You have a secret Facebook account in order to spy and make fun of all your frenemies

3. You make fun of all your friends who are Facebook addicts and call them losers repeatedly

4. Your mom has a Facebook account and you don't

5. You write a blog dedicated to propogating anti-facebook sentiment

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Google Sells Out

Google went public this week with their year-old application Google Profiles- an online tool that seems to combine the social networking capability of Facebook with the professional networking of LinkedIn and the simplicity of Twitter. So what is it exactly? Well according to Google it's "simply how you present yourself on Google products to other Google users. It allows you to control how you appear on Google and tell others a bit more about who you are. With a Google profile, you can easily share your web content on one central location."

Design-wise it looks a lot like a virtual business card and I think that's the point. I have to admit though, I'm still a little unclear on the advantages of this application. Nonetheless I of course had to set up my own profile. Along with the standard "personality" questions such as interests, they also asked things like "something I can't find using google"and "my super power." Slightly random non sequiturs. So now if you Google me, here's what you'll see at the very bottom of the page. I'm not the only Anna Miller? How disappointing....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Facebook Code of Honor

As a follow-up to my last post, I discovered a post about Facebook Ethics on Urban Dictionary. It reads:

Facebook Ethics is a major branch of philosophy, encompassing right conduct and good life over the electronic medium Facebook. The guiding principle of Facebook ethics is that of exercising sound judgement and morality when establishing relationships, networking, or simply keeping in touch with old friends.

Examples of breaching Facebook ethics include:
  • Posting inappropriate pictures of either yourself or friends engaged in raucous behavior, binge drinking, or doing illegal drugs.
  • Posting nasty comments about ex boyfriends new girlfriends at an attempt to invoke jealousy, cause pain, insult the other party
  • Incessantly posting on people's walls thereby shielding other people's comments and creating a monopoly on said person's wall
  • Discussing insensitive topics that could be read by other people- examples include religion, politics, and racism/sexism
  • Tagging friends in pictures that are less than flattering.

This is in fact a layman's reiteration of Facebook's code of conduct:

While we believe users should be able to express themselves and their point of view, certain kinds of speech simply do not belong in a community like Facebook. Therefore, you may not post or share Content that:
  • is obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit
  • depicts graphic or gratuitous violence
  • makes threats of any kind or that intimidates, harasses, or bullies anyone
  • is derogatory, demeaning, malicious, defamatory, abusive, offensive or hateful
Although most teens don't seem to be abiding by these common sensical rules, it makes this old fart feel better to know that a code of conduct does in fact exist. I'm concerned about how it's being enforced though. I'm sure there are a lot more pictures of underage drinking than Facebook employees are able to police.

And while I don't necessarily have a problem with underage drinking, I do have a problem with a lack of discretion. Growing up watching nothing but reality television has encouraged a generation of exhibitionists. Part of the fun of behaving badly is the that it's secretive and private. By exposing this behavior, you're in a sense opening yourself up to scrutiny that could have repercussions into adulthood (i.e. college admissions, job placement, etc.). This is especially true if Facebook has its way under its proposed Terms of Service and is able to own your content even after you close your account. A word of advice to all the kids out there- Keep your shit private!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Old Fart

Yup that's me.

A few years ago I tattled on my little cousin for posting drinking pictures to her Facebook page. At the time she was just 14 years old and I was shocked to see pictures of her completely wasted for all the world to see with comments from her friends referencing other activities they had participated in that evening (use your imagination). I mean, maybe I'm just an old fart. but back in my day you tried and hide that type of incriminating evidence.

Nowadays, kids are so haphazard. It's like they have no filter. I understand that she thought she was just sharing the photos with her friends, but didn't it occur to her that I was also her "friend" and would see them and would perhaps tell my mother who would perhaps tell her mother and ban her from Facebook? I know, I'm an evil evil cousin.

The situation I'm describing is all too common for the ME generation of kids who have grown up with social media as a part of their daily diet. The level of comfort they experience online allows them to say and post things they might otherwise do in real life.

My suggestion to deal with this issue is a new service called "Two-Facedbook" (patent pending).

What if kids had the option of being able to manage two profiles- one for family and other adult authority figures and another version strictly for friends. On the "clean" version they could post pictures of themselves helping the homeless, feeding squirrels, making their beds. On the other version they could freely post pictures of themselves shooting heroin, having random sex, and other fun yet explicit activities. I'd like to think I'm original but I have a feeling a service like this may already exist.

One other option would be to give kids lessons is digital privacy. That may be more effective in the long term but what do I know, I'm just an old fart.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Return on Investment? It's About Time!

According to today's article in Ad Age, marketers have achieved the impossible. They have finally managed to measure the return on investment of social networking and have therefore validated it as an effective form of advertising.

The debate around this issue is one I've been following with some interest. While there's no doubt that social networking leads to conversation the question is whether this conversation ever leads to sales. But according to research performed jointly by ComScore, MySpace and Dunnhumby, a 28% ROI was able to be measured for an unnamed package-goods brand's $1 million social media campaign.

Marketers were able to accomplish this astonishing feet by combining an internet usage database with customer loyalty panels. According to Ad Age, this single-source database allowed for a "definitive look at how internet ads affect offline purchases." I'm not quite sure I buy it but as advertisers feel more comfortable spending online, this may be just the financial boost Facebook has been hunting for.

Dear Abby...

As part of its "Gadgetwise" blog, the New York Times online now has a new advice columnist by the name of Paul Boutin (Is it just me or does this guy look like a jewish Bono?) A graduate of MIT, Boutin is now spewing advice on all matters related to social networking:

Got a question about social networking? E-mail me at, or contact me via Facebook or Twitter. I’ll answer technical questions ("Can I use Twitter on my Nokia?”) and social issues (”How do I deal with a divorce on Facebook?”) The thornier, the better. All names and other personal details will be kept confidential.

Despite my anti-Facebook sentiment this guy seems to be giving some pretty good advice. The first question he received asked how to "silence" noisy Facebook friends so you don't have to bear witness to their incessant updates on daily tedium. In a very clear and step-by-step fashion, Boutin suggested several options for "quieting" these people without having to unfriend them.

In an age where tech advice columnists are replacing the likes of etiquette (Ann Landers) and sex (Dan Savage) advice columnists, I'm sure we'll soon begin to see more questions like this appear in the local paper and I'm glad there is someone equipped to answer.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter! Tweet! Tweet!

Send out the hypocrite police cause I'm about to make a confession...


Yes, I must admit, after listening to Howard Stern's Twitter travails on Thursday's show, I decided to explore the most recent trend in social networking for myself. I had created an account months ago but never took the time to look around. Well on Thursday afternoon I logged in and haven't been able to tear myself away since. I love it. And in an attempt to justify this hypocrisy to myself and my fellow SNRs, here's my list of reasons why Twitter is better than Facebook:

1) Twitter is more honest. For the most part, is a one way dialogue. People can follow you and you can follow others and although commenting is allowed, interaction is not an essential ingredient of this social network. Therefore in some ways it's easier for you to be yourself and share your thoughts without worrying about what others will say. As opposed to Facebook, which is more about connecting with old friends and trying to prove how successful you are, Twitter seems inherently more real.

2) Brevity (see previous post). There's nothing I hate more than verbosity. There are too many people out there who use an abundance of unnecessary words. Simplicity is key in communications. Twitter gives you 140 characters to say what you need to say. If you're clever, you can manage to say a lot in that small space.

3) Related to #1, voyeurism is a key component of Twitter. At Kim's suggestion, I tried following a few celebrities. I'm especially fond of posts from comedians Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter. This comedic duo love to torment each other via hilarious Twitter posts often accompanied by equally hilarious pics. As a self-admitted voyeur, it's fun to get an inside glimpse into the lives of celebrities whose work I've admired for years. But at the same time, you can see this "realness" getting commercialized by celebrities like Ryan Seacrest who obviously have teams of publicists tweeting on their behalf. I began following Seacrest but had to delete him after the endless amount of self-promotion I received.

4) Twitter is easy. There's no profile to set-up, no annoying questions to answer. You post a pic, and a short bio and're Tweeting. I don't have to spend hours I don't have agonizing over my profile or my list of friends. If I want to give an update, I can do it right through my cell phone. It's a perfect social networking application for someone with a life.

So those are the reasons I've thought of so far to ease my Twitter-loving guilt. Maybe social networking isn't all bad, especially as we figure out new uses for it (i.e. Moldova Prostests).

See, I can admit when I'm wrong.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

LinkedIn: Social Network or Other?

So someone recently asked me how I (as a Social Network Reject) felt about LinkedIn. And even though I am a member, I'm not quite sure why or what to feel about it. The idea of it occupies a void in my mind. I mean what is it really? Is it a social network or a professional network or both? According to Wikipedia, it is a business-oriented social network. Is it just me or are those two things contradictory? That's like saying you're a rural urbanite. It doesn't make sense. Business is one thing and social is quite another.

I had no problem joining the site when I was under the impression that it was strictly for professional networking. Makes sense as a potential resource for career opportunities. Good idea. Again according to Wikipedia, the purpose of the site is to allow users to maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business. But if that's the case, then why did I start getting requests from friends who were neither business colleagues nor in my field? I accepted so as not to be rude but in truth I didn't understand why they were requesting I add them as connections. I mean, isn't that what Facebook is for?

I guess some could argue that any type of networking, be it social or professional, is good for your career which is why LinkedIn is able to ride that fine line. But as a Social Network Reject, I still find myself torn on the issue. And while I do have a LinkedIn account, I neither use it nor maintain it. It just sort of exists in cyberspace in case someone should ever want to offer me a job with a $1 million starting salary.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Love it...

Cover story of this week's New York Magazine. Click here to read full article.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I Heart Zac Efron

New SNR crush of the week alert....Zac Efron!

At a press junket for his latest film, Seventeen Again, High School Musical hottie Zac Efron proclaimed his social network reject status:

I don't have a Twitter, a MySpace or a Facebook or anything like that. I kind of value in people not knowing where I am or what I'm doing.

Efron even went on to demonstrate how ridic some "tweets" can be:

I’m on the toilet. Still on the toilet. Guys, dot-dot-dot, out of TP. Still on the toilet.

It's nice to see this guy has a sense of humor. You don't know what to expect with someone as pretty as him. But he just got a new fan from his public display of distaste for social networking.

Friday, April 3, 2009

'Getting to Work' on Facebook

I've decided to take a (small) break from my anti-social media rhetoric and tout some of the more positive aspects of social networking. In this tough economy, a new Facebook group has come together to provide some much needed shelter from the financial storm. Getting to Work is uniting the collective expertise of freelance, independent contractors, underemployed and unemployed New Yorkers. Through pro bono projects with non-profits, Getting to Work members are attempting to give back to their community while also building professional experience that will hopefully lead to full time employment.

Just goes to show that social networks can be more than an utter waste of time. They can also sometimes (albeit rarely) be a great tool to help empower people to make a difference in their community as well as in their professional lives. The group, which was founded by fellow Strat Commer, Cheryl Metzger, is currently working with several non-profits including a new organization using classical music to promote international dialogue.

If you have an organization that is in need of some pro-bono communications consultancy from Columbia students or if you are interested in participating, sign up today. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Facebook Slackers

At work today I had to post a job opening online. In the description I was tempted to write "Candidate must be motivated, able to work independently and not be on Facebook all day!" I didn't write this but nowadays I think it's neccessary to mention to all new employees. In my experience it seems like most people, particularly those under that age of 25, find it acceptable to be slacking on the job as long as they're using this time to update their Facebook status. The last three interns we had were literally on Facebook every time I passed by their computer.

Could this unacceptable work attitude be the result of reinforced behavior by schools and universities?

According to the BBC, Bournemouth University students are complaining they cannot get enough work done because fellow students are hogging computers to use Facebook and Twitter. But get this, according to the article, university officials say social networking sites are also sometimes used for legitimate academic reasons and they are therefore unable to block the sites.

"I come into university at 0900 to work on my dissertation thinking I've beaten the crowd to the computers, and I still can't get on them because people are on Facebook," said Miguel Dias.

In my opinion, sites like Facebook and Twitter, should be blocked on all school and work computers. But unfortunately, the reality is that Facebook is often used as a means of sharing course-related material. I've actually been forced to use it on occassion for work-related assigments.

And don't get me wrong. I do my fair share of internet cruising while at work. A new study by the University of Melbourne even confirmed people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive that those who do not. All I'm saying is that people should show some discretion and self-control while on the job, at school or in a public area where demand for computers is high. Be respectful!

PhD in Facebook

I have to come clean. This blog is actually an assignment for my digital communications class and I need 42 posts before the end of the semester in order to earn an A. Although I find posting three times a week a bit tedious, I do see the value in being able to navigate and contribute to the blogosphere. Plus I get a real kick out of coming up first on a "social network reject" Google search (not like anyone is actually searching for that).

But this class is one of many that I need in order to earn a well-rounded Master's degree in Strategic Communications. And although I'm enjoying the class very much, I think one semester is more than enough time to navigate the world of social and online media. But those at Birmingham City University seem to disagree. They have begun an entire Master's program in social media.

According to College News, the British university’s one-year program will teach students how to set up blogs, publish podcasts and build up their social network using Facebook, Twitter and Bebo. All of which are so basic, they could be self-taught.

Jon Hickman is the genius who created this program and the man trying to milk students for a year's worth of tuition. And not surprisingly he's gotten some negative feedback: “We’ve had one below for more info on this idiotic program.

For some reason this reminds me a lot of the Lil Kim course taught at Syracuse University. Sounded like a lot of fun but if you're paying $2000/credit do you really want to waste it analyzing the lyrics to Queen Bitch? Or in this case, learning the best techniques on how to fill out a "25 Random Things You Didn't Know About Me" list?

Jon Hickman: MA in Social Media from Kasper Sorensen on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Facebook Movie??

Okay so this is the first I'm hearing of the Facebook movie. What the f*ck??? At first I thought it was a joke but apparently it's all too real and I'm just waaaayyyy behind.

In fact, it's already been acquired by Sony Pictures Entertainment with Scott Rubin as producer. According to his Facebook page, West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin has confirmed his involvement in the project:

I've just agreed to write a movie for Sony and producer Scott Rudin about how Facebook was invented. I figured a good first step in my preparation would be finding out what Facebook is, so I've started this page. (Actually it was started by my researcher, Ian Reichbach, because my grandmother has more Internet savvy than I do and she's been dead for 33 years.)

Apparently Facebook has no involvement and is being very tight-lipped about the matter even going as far as warning employees not to talk to Sorkin. This may be because Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg (pictured above right), will more than likely not be portrayed in the best light.

According to Gawker, the movie is to be based on Ben Mezrich's soon to be released memoir about how Facebook was founded. In the book's proposal Mezrich claims that Zuckerberg created the social network site to get laid. But isn't that common knowledge?

Here are more plot details from CNET:

With a working title of Face Off, the plot concerns Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's soured relationship with early Facebook executive Eduardo Saverin, who appears to have been in close contact with Mezrich for the book, while they were both undergraduates at Harvard. The proposal described Zuckerberg and Saverin getting caught up in Silicon Valley excess, partying like celebrities all over the world, until a showdown between them turned ugly.

As much as I hate Facebook, I will have to see this train wreck. How are they going to make a dramatic movie about two anti-social nerds at Harvard? For some reason I keep thinking of the episode of Family Matters where Urkel drinks "Cool Juice" and turns into Stefan Urquelle. Except money would be the "Cool Juice" in this metaphor.

As far as cast goes, the blogosphere is postulating that Jason Cera (pictured above left) would be a natural fit. I'm gonna go with Jon Heder aka Napoleon Dynamite. He wouldn't even need to change character! And it's not like there would even need to be a love interest....just a bottle of lotion and some tissues.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The New Facebook Blows!

A few weeks ago I heard my boyfriend shout from the office: "What the fuck is this??!" And so begins Facebook's third and final blunder before users pack up their photos and move on.

In an effort to compete with Twitter, Facebook redesigned its homepage by putting a greater emphasis on status updates. And as I'm sure everyone's heard by now, users have been very vocal about how much they HATE it (see below).

Placating their annoyed audience, Facebook is allowing users to vote on the new layout- only AFTER launching it on March 11. As of today, the voting is overwhelmingly conclusive- 94% of the over 1.7M voters dislike the new layout.
I think it's great that Facebook is joining the conversation albeit a little late. But according to a post last week on Valleywag, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg sent an email to his staff reacting to the layout criticism. Supposedly the email said something to the effect that 'the most disruptive companies don't listen to their customers.'

Didn't Marky Mark learn his lesson last month? Reacting to a groundswell of negativity over Facebook's terms of service, Zuckerberg stuck his tail between his legs and reverted back to the original terms of service and even initiated a Facebook Bill of Rights. And now he's saying that listening to his customers complaints about the redesign would be a stupid move? Is this guy schizo? Three strikes and you're out buddy....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Facebook Photo Stalker

I've said it before and I'll say it again- a picture tells a thousand words. And nothing can be more true than on Facebook. Being able to get a glimpse into an old friend or frenemy's life without any actual interaction provides a thrill like no other. Maybe it's the voyeur in me but this is actually the ill-fated reason I joined Facebook in the first place.

Learning that Michelle- the girl from high school who had cheetos stuck in her braces everyday after lunch- was married with twins was surreal. Seeing that Julie married someone other than her high school sweetheart and that Melissa was her maid of honor (I can't believe they're still friends!) was astonishing. A photo of John with his new husband helped explain a lot. But in order to see anything more than a profile pic, you actually have to "friend" these people- something my ego would never allow me to do.

My sister has no problem with this concept and is constantly friending people she hated in high school just so she can gain access to their inner sanctum and scrutinize their most precious memories displayed for all their "friends" to see. My boyfriend is on the opposite end of the spectrum where he doesn't care enough to look at other people's photos.

Well neither of these two options satisfied my morbid curiosity. That is until now. Facebook recently launched Photo Stalker, a new application that allows you to see the photos of users who have left their photo album security on the default setting of "everyone." Most people unknowingly leave their photos open to "everyone" assuming that everyone means all their friends when in fact in means the entire Facebook population. The Photo Stalker software is the only way to pull up photos that are posted to "everyone."

Apparently there are a lot of prideful Voyeurs out there. So far Photo Stalker has attracted about 2,000 users since it was introduced in February.

To access photos of people not on your "friend" list, all you need to do is enter their name, Facebook ID # or url into the application and bam- you're in! Now I can see pics of my 4th grade ex-best friend's husband or my college ex-boyfriend's wife. The entertainment is endless! And each picture will cause me to feel increasingly nauseous as I compare my life and achievements to that of people I haven't seen or spoken to in years. But isn't the the sadomasocistic point of Facebook?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Social Networking Snobs

Last week I spoke about Genkvetch, a niche social networking site catering to an older demo, those who don't quite fit in with the young whippersnappers on Facebook. Well the niche networking trend appears to be growing. Meet

" is an exclusive online social network for the affluent and influential aimed at forming a socially conscious, elite, and exclusive community that helps wealthy, influential, and affluent people make life better for both themselves and others."

Although membership is free, the criteria to join in quite strict. All members must have a net worth of $3Million or an annual income of $300K and this must be validated through public records. Members are screened regularly to make sure they still meet the site's requirements.

But don't fear- even if you hob nob with the upper crust by taking a Greyhound out to the Hamptons every weekend you can still become a member by getting at least five of your wealthy friends to vouch for you.

Affluence launched in September and currently has more than 20,000 members. According to According to the St. Petersburg Times, some of the site's members include celebrities, investors, publishers and socialites from around the world, including Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner.

With the tagline "Make Life Better," the site puts a very nice social responsibility spin on its "mission:"

" conveys a strong sense of philanthropy and social responsibility demonstrated by featuring a detailed charity section where members can direct donations, RSVP to fund raising events, watch videos relating to the cause, or indicate that they support the charity. also donated 15% of their monthly media, both print and online, to selected charities."

Okay, so this isn't just an elitist networking tool, a blue-blood online destination? This is a legitimate place to gather with other upper class members of society and help people less fortunate. Well, great. You shut this cynic up...that is until I reached the bottom of the "About Us" page which speaks to marketers directly:

"Access to this elite target market is unparalleled and our marketing partners know they reach a defined target audience with shared social interests and affluent lifestyles. The accuracy of our information is unlike that of other media publishers who estimate audience demographics through less reliable outside surveys and audits."

And so we see this is nothing more than a marketers wet dream during this financial crisis- direct access to a growing audience of wealthy individuals looking to spend and give. Bravo Scott Mitchell (founder of Affluence), you're a marketing genius!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Facebook Attracts Octogenarians and Dies

Today's article in the NY Times is more proof that Facebook is dying a slow, painful death as more and more baby boomers (aka old people- sorry mom and dad) are joining. According to the article, the fastest-growing user group is women 55 and over, up more than 175 percent since last fall. Men 55 and over are right behind, having increased almost 138 percent during the same time period. Oy Gevalt!

How much longer will kids want to hang out in the same virtual space as their parents? Yuck! The article, obviously written by a boomer, attempted to tackle this sticky issue:

"Of course some young Facebookers are annoyed by the older generation’s encroachment on their territory. My colleague joined a while ago, put in friend requests to her teenage daughters and was promptly rejected. Facebook is not for people her age, they informed her."

One of my friend's mothers recently friended her on Facebook. My friend was horrified but wasn't rude enough to "ignore" the request so now her mother has access to her sordid online life and she is now being forced to censor herself.

But some boomers are choosing to create their own online community like the three South Floridians who were tired of the youth-dominated social networking sites and decided to create Genkvetch. In this case a picture is worth a thousand words:
Looks about as fun as play time at Shady Pines. The tag line on the homepage reads:

"Out of place at Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster? Then this is your space!"

And while I don't agree with social networking in principle, at least these old foggies had the foresight to realize they don't belong on Facebook.

I Heart Jason Segal

I'm a big fan of the Judd Apatow genre. I must have seen 40-Year Old Virgin at least two dozen times and have even watched the deleted scenes (which are hilarious and should not be missed). It took me awhile but I finally saw his latest project Forgetting Sarah Marshall which suffered from a really poor marketing campaign- weird, irrelevant subway and bus ads that didn't relate in anyway to the witty romantic comedy. Needless to say it didn't do terribly well at the box office. But it was actually surprisingly good- no 40-Year Old Virgin but good none the less. I immediately fell in love with its star and writer Jason Segal- that cute guy from the lame CBS show How I Met Your Mother.

I fell even more in love with Mr. Segal seeing him diss Facebook on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (20 minutes into the video if you care to see for yourself):

"I'm not on the Facebook. I don't do the Facebook thing and I'll tell you why...I don't not keep in touch with you cause I can't find you. I didn't like you in high school and I'm not gonna like you now."

Jason, would you like to join SNR?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Facebook Wants Me Back!

How funny is this? I got the above email from FB a few days ago. In order to reactivate my account all I need to do is simply click the button and POOF- all my info and photos and friends will be back as if I never left.

This email interested me for two reasons. 1) It means there are many people like me out there who for whatever reason decided they had had enough of Facebook. As much as I disliked it, I agonized over the decision of ending my account for fear that if I changed my mind down the road, I'd have to do the work of setting up another profile all over again. It's extremely time consuming to determine how you want to appear to exs, frenemies and the like. This email let me know that all of my witty profile responses were just waiting to be read and all I needed to do was come back and drink the kool-aid.

This leads me to my second point. You may remember the Facebook Terms of Service scandal from a few weeks ago. The new TOS stated that basically anything you uploaded to the site belonged to Facebook even after you closed your account. The online community banded together and said I DON'T THINK SO and Facebook was forced to change their TOS. Okay, so even though Facebook doesn't own my clever words, they are still entitled to hold onto them in case I should ever decidedto come back. Something about that still doesn't seem quite right to me...

Roadside Facebook Memorials

There's nothing sadder than a roadside memorial. It reminds you not only of someone's tragic death but also of your own mortality. It could have been you on the way to the local grocery store when all of a sudden a drunk driver slams into you head on. But the other thing that has always disturbed me about roadside memorials is how they age. The friends and family of the deceased have gone to all the trouble of adding plastic flowers, cards and other memorabilia but nature has a way of aging these mementos. Who is responsible for eventually removing the disintegrated memories?

There was a kid my sister when to high school with who recently passed away suddenly and tragically. She told me how his Facebook wall became somewhat of a roadside memorial. I'm sure at first this kind of memorial provided some comfort to the young man's family. But what about five years from now? Won't it simply serve as a tarnished reminder of the son/friend/brother they once knew? Who is responsible for eventually updating or taking down his page?

Enter Legacy Locker, a new online service that allows people to securely store usernames, passwords and other access information for all their digital assets — from Facebook and MySpace accounts to Gmail and PayPal — and pass that information along to beneficiaries in the event of their death. “It’s the online equivalent of a safety deposit box,” said Jeremy Toeman, co-founder of Legacy Locker. Upon the death of a Legacy Locker member, family members simply call or email Legacy Locker and supply the death certificate, along with other verification criteria. Once that’s done, Legacy Locker sends the information onto the designated beneficiaries of the deceased.

While this in theory sounds like a good idea, who of Facebook's young demographic is thinking and planning for their inevitable demise? A bit ill conceived, don't you think? Plus, isn't this similar to a computer's cookies? Couldn't the family member of the deceased simply logon to the account provided that their computer's cookies have been enabled? But perhaps this service will appeal to Facebook's older, more mature demo although somehow I doubt it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hulu + Social Networking= Disaster

I discovered Hulu this past fall and have since fallen in love with it's simple yet effective interface. Being able to watch my favorite shows (see clip below from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia- best show ever) in their entirety or just funny clips for those short attention span moments, is a luxury I've come to treasure.

What also impressed me about Hulu is it's business model. This is the first site of it's kind that's found an effective way to monetize content without annoying the audience. The most you have to suffer through is two fifteen second ads per half hour show. And the beauty of it is, it gives you time to quickly check your email. As someone who is used to waiting through four to five 10 minute commerial blocks on shows like American Idol (yes I still watch it), two 15-sec spots is cake.

So as you can tell, I'm a huge Hulu fan. That was up until today when the Wall Street Journal announced that "the Internet-video site is adding social-networking functions in hopes of building user loyalty and mining data to attract more advertisers." The site, Hulu Friends, launched today in conjunction with Hulu's one year anniversary and includes many similar features to Facebook.

Hulu was on its way to becoming a real threat to traditional television but the The Wall Street Journal made a very interesting hypothesis that social networking component might actually take away their competitive advantage:

"By underscoring that the site is about providing entertainment on the computer, and not replacing television, the new social-networking features also could help ease concerns about Hulu's potential to undermine the business interests of TV networks and cable operators."

Oh Hulu, why couldn't you just leave good enough alone?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cellphone Blogging

This is an experiment in Twitter-style blogging as discussed in previous post:

Hi snr. On bus home. Promised a post via text so here it is. Short & sweet. Attempting 2 develop social network site for project @ work. Ironic no? Reading groundswell and they suggest joining existing network whenever possible. Audience is teens so facebook app may b way 2 go although boss wants something he has propriety over. Interesting dilemma. Problem is we need 2 seed content on either. Not enough staff. Not viable option? All this in less than 500 characters. Not bad anna.

Okay, so this is longer than a Tweet but it was the maximum text length my cell phone would allow. Still an interesting experiment in brevity. Managed to a) express myself in a very limited space and b) occupy my time while commuting. Apparently most cellphone novelists composed their books while on the subway in Tokyo. Just goes to show what can happen when you put idle time to good use.

Martha Twitters About Dead Doggie

Here's a case in which the brevity of Twitter may not be the best option...

Seems a little cold, no? And to make matters worse, here's the Tweet Martha posted an hour prior:

I wonder what she's making- Chow Fun? Chow Mein? Tee hee.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Otto on Dogbook!

Oh, it's times like this that I wish I had a Facebook account! I just learned that there is a Dogbook application that lets you connect with other dog owners and their pups! Problem is you have to have a Facebook account in order to access the application :(

As you can see from the above, I have the world's cutest Boston Terrier named Otto. And since I can't put Otto on Dogbook due to my own biases towards it's mother organization, Facebook, I've hijacked my boyfriend's account and have created the following page for Otto!!!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Twitter Literature

I've heard that in Tokyo, people are getting novels published that they have composed on their cell phones. These "cellphone novels" topped the best-seller list in Japan last year. Pretty incredible. Most are written by young women and involve love stories written in short sentences with little plot.

I once kept a journal using the notes function of my cell phone. I loved the challenge of fitting my thoughts into such a small space. There's something about brevity that really forces you to prioritize your feelings and focus on the things that are troubling you most. And it was for this reason that I actually enjoyed Facebook's update function.

I'm told that Twitter is exactly that- the update function without the rest of the junk that comes along with Facebook. I like the concept but I refuse to get sucked into yet another social networking fade. However, journalists are now using Twitter to report on breaking news stories.
Tweets are restricted to 140 characters and are therefore forcing reportes to be brief. Connie Coyne of The Salt Lake Tribune gave a great example of this using the Lord's Prayer:

R dad in sky: U r cool here & on high. Ur will is all. Feed & nurture us. 4 give us & we forgive. Let us evade temptation & evil. Amen.

This has inspired me to compose my next blog post via cell phone...stay tuned.

Listen to the Pope!

Pope Benedict the 16th recently warned his congregation via YouTube (yes, the Vatican has its own YouTube channel- see below if you don't believe me!) against what he called "obsessive" use of electronic communication. The Pope even went as far as to suggest they attempt to go without texting or social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook.

And in keeping with the Pope's advice, many Catholics are giving up social networking for Lent. A modern take on the traditional Christian practice of giving up something to represent the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the desert. There's a reason why some refer to Facebook as "crackbook" due to its addictive nature.

In my brief time on Facebook, that obsessive need to constantly check my page and my friends' pages was too much for me to handle. I already have 4 e-mail accounts- 2 for work, 1 for school and 1 personal- plus this blog not to mention the blogs that I'm a loyal reader of. That alone is enough to keep me occupied without having to continually update a Facebook/MySpace page or Twitter tweets. I can understand teens and stay-at-home moms who use this technology, but how does the rest of the social networking community have time?? Lent offers a nice reprieve from the burden imposed by such technologies. Go Pope!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mad Men Meets Web 2.0

Too good not to share with my fellow SNRs...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cybernerd Sues Facebook

College student Denise Finkel recently filed a $3 million lawsuit against Facebook and four of her former high school classmates who she has accused of cyberbullying. According to Finkel's lawyer, the classmates created a password-protected Facebook group "calculated to hold the plaintiff up to public hatred, ridicule and disgrace." Allegedly, the defendents claimed that Finkel had AIDS, was an intravenous drug user, and practiced beastiality.

Facebook's response: "We see no merit to this suit and we will fight it vigorously.

Now granted I'm sure the poor girl has been subjected to a lot of torment but $3 mil seems like an awful lot of money. As one who is no stranger to bullying, I feel for her. When I was in junior high, back in the days before cyberanything, this bitch Caryn Weiss used to torment me. Her and her clique would laugh and make fun of me because I was a little developmently challenged and had not yet mastered the concept of hairspray, fashion or deodorant (plus this was during my mullet phase). But I survived and slowly caught up to my classmates (and grew out the mullet). My point is that I dealt with this torment face-to-face on a daily basis- not online in cyberworld. I'm not saying that it doesn't have the same impact but is it really worth starting a lawsuit over? I'm a firm believer in karma and I'm sure the pain that Caryn inflicted on me as well as the pain Finkel's tormenters inflicted on her, will be paid back tenfold. All I can say is that Caryn better start teaching her little girl how to use deodorant sooner rather than later.

Sorry for the rant but this felt good! But seriously Denise, you are always welcome to our group here at Social Network Reject!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Think I'm In Love...Part III

Here is the third and final installment of my interview with Paul La Monica, editor at large for and author of the brilliant article "Why I Hate Facebook." In this section we get into the nitty gritty of Facebook's ify future. Enjoy!

Me: Someone once said to me that Facebook isn't for anyone born in 1978 or before. Being that I was born that year, I tend to concur. Do you agree that these sites are in some ways generational? And now that more and more parents are joining Facebook, is it just a matter of time before kids find a new trend? Do you foresee any viable alternatives?

PL: To a certain extent, social networking sites are general in the sense that for many younger people, they won't know a word without Facebook, Twitter, etc. However, I don't think the generational gap is that much of a hindrance. My brother was also born in 1978. I'm older than him. So is my wife. And most of my friends that are on Facebook were all born in the late 1960s to early-mid 1970s.

But you raise a great point about parents joining Facebook. I do fear that from a business perspective, the challenge social networking sites will face is staying relevant. I do think that there is a certain degree of fickleness and that there probably is a site right now that's just getting started that will become the hot new site for younger Web users in 2010...which means it will become the media darling of 2011.

Me: Your article mentions Google's monetizing capabilities. Can the same be said of orkut- their venture into the social networking world? In your opinion, has any social network site come close to finding a solution to the monetary issue?

PL: Google has not really made that much money off of orkut. And even YouTube, which you can argue is much about social networking and user-generated content as it is video from "traditional" media companies, is not generating major profits yet for Google. MySpace has been somewhat of a success for News Corp., partly due to the ad agreement it has with Google. But it still seems that social networks are still searching for the way to justify the massive amounts of hype, not to mention venture capital money plowed into them.

Me: Do you think people would ever be willing to pay for a social networking subscription?

PL: It's possible. And it may not have to charge a big fee in order to generate meaningful revenue. The problem though is that if Facebook, for example, started to charge a subscription, you'd immediately have a flood of new companies cropping up offering free services that would try to steal away users.

Just to make my point clear, my reasons for "hating" Facebook, and the reasons I wrote the column, were to simply point out two things. For me personally, I don't want to spend the time updating a social network page...mainly because I don't see a need to share so much information with others. But more importantly, I still don't see how Facebook can get from being a cool, extremely hyped company to one that actually can generate enough revenue and profits to survive for the long-term. I don't have any horror stories about or axes to grind against Facebook or any other social networking sites.

A big shout out to Mr. La Monica for taking the time to speak with me and for sharing his insights with us Social Network Rejects. Thank you!

I Think I'm In Love...Part II

My interview with Paul La Monica, editor at large for, continues as we discuss the Good and Bad of Facebook:

Me: As a journalist, do you see any ways in which Facebook could be beneficial in tracking a leed or gathering information?

PL: Yes. Despite my professed dislike of the site, I am not naïve enough to think that it doesn't have a good use for many other people. And anything that attracts as many users as Facebook does could be something that is helpful to reporters to gather information. Many media companies, CNN included, are using Facebook and other social networking sites like Twitter to quickly gather information and get a sense from readers/listeners/viewers about what they think about topics in the news. This is good. One of the best things about "new media" is the instantaneous feedback.

Me: You may have heard about the controversy a few weeks ago surrounding the change to Facebook's terms of service- a change that gave Facebook ownership of anything uploaded to their site- even after you canceled your account. After an online revolt (similar to the Beacon insurgency), Zuckerberg was forced to reverse the policy. What do you think was behind this policy change? How would owning pictures of Tiffany wasted at Halloween help Facebook make money?

PL: I honestly don't think Facebook was trying to become some sort of Orwellian Big Brother figure. But I do think that the company was trying to prove to advertisers that it has this valuable database of information, even if it involves former members. I understand why the company quickly switched gears. The backlash was fast and, dare I say it, furious. But the controversy just further underscores in my mind why it may be difficult for Facebook to ever be a viable business. Users don't view Facebook as a profit-making entity. They see it as a cool site that has the best technology and interface to allow them to share information easily with their friends, family, etc. Anytime Facebook makes an overt move to try and "monetize" the users, they could run into privacy concerns.

Stay tuned to the third and final segment of my interview with Mr. La Monica in which we discuss the future of Facebook...