Saturday, February 28, 2009
Here is the third and final installment of my interview with Paul La Monica, editor at large for CNNMoney.com 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!
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...
Sunday, February 22, 2009
...and his name is Paul R. La Monica, CNNMoney.com editor at large.
In a recent article entitled "Why I Hate Facebook," La Monica indulges us in good dose of anti-Facebook rhetoric. Here is one of my favorite lines from the article:
My brother recently harassed me over the phone about why I wasn't on Facebook. My response was, "You want my status update? I'm about to hang up on you."
Sigh...a man after my own heart. Besides from an all too brief anti-Facebook rant, Mr. La Monica puts his money where his mouth is and legitimizes his claim that “Facebook or any social network can never truly be a major generator of ad revenue.”
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. La Monica further during an in-depth interview. Enjoy Part 1!
Me: As much as I proclaim to be an anti-Facebook advocate, I still couldn't resist the temptation to try it out. I quickly confirmed my suspicions and canceled my account after realizing it wasn't for me. But I needed that proof. As a tech savvy guy with a wife and brother on Facebook, how have you managed to avoid succumbing to the peer pressure and curiosity?
PL: Truth be told, my wife will show me things on her Facebook page that I'd find interesting, such as photos/videos of our friends' kids and messages from my brother. But I'm happy to let it all go through her. I still don't feel the need to set up my own page.
Me: The fact that my boyfriend needs to check Facebook on his iPhone every 2 seconds is grounds for a break-up. Do you and your wife's differing views on the subject ever result in an argument or tension?
PL: Ha! That is an amusing question. We haven't had any arguments about Facebook per se. Sometimes I have to nudge her on a Saturday morning to stop playing Lexulous when I want to do more practical stuff like go grocery shopping. But honestly, it's not a big issue. Plus, I'm sure I wind up wasting enough time on the computer looking at "important" things like checking out fantasy baseball stats and scouring for Lost spoilers. So it would be hypocritical for me to be too concerned about her time on Facebook.
Me: Have you had experiences with any other social networking sites like Friendster, MySpace, Twitter, etc? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
PL: The only social networking site I am a member of LinkedIn. And even there, I rarely use it. I don't think I've ever invited someone to my network. I simply respond when people invite me. But I haven't had any bad experiences with social networking sites per se. In fact, I enjoy checking out MySpace for music recommendations. My brother has a band so I visit his page frequently. All that said, I see no need to set up my own page.
In Part II we get into the bad AND the good of Facebook...to be posted shortly...
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Ok- sorry for the flip headline, but this is actually really sad. Sexy model/actor, Paul Zolezzi, committed suicide on Friday in Mount Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Police found his body hanging from the monkey bars of the playground in the early morning hours. Apparently Zolezzi, 30, left what appears to be a suicide note by way of Facebook status update:
"born in San Francisco, became a shooting star over everywhere, and ended his life in Brooklyn . . . And couldn't have asked for more."
Zolezzi had been struggling with a heroin addiction and a lack of stardom. When Zolezzi was 8, his father threw himself off the Golden Gate Bridge, his mother told the NY Post yesterday. So tragic.
Zolezzi's other updates suggest that he wasn't happy and looking for an escape:
"Paul is wondering, what unspeakable act did I do in a previous life to deserve this one?"
"Paul is going to be the first person ever to hang himself on the way out of Portland! Everything here sucks!"RIP Paul.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
According to psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman (see totally creepy pic to the left), spending too much time on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace and less time interacting face to face might leave you with a greater risk of developing serious health issues like cancer and dementia. (And no I didn't pay him to say that!)
According to Sigman, increased isolation results in a decrease of the "cuddle chemical" known as oxytocin. Oxytocin has been
found to prevent heart disease and may explain the relationship between social contact and reduced cardiovascular disease.
Although I love what Sigman is spewing, I think that the press may have picked up this story and ran with it. Sigman's homepage is notes the following:
NOTE: This paper has been misrepresented by many news reports as claiming that social networking causes cancer or disease. This is not true. The paper addresses the extent to which time online may be displacing face-to-face contact, and that lack of social connection is associated with physiological changes, increased incidence of illness and higher premature mortality.
Hmm....it seems as if the press may have the same agenda as me....
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Apparently, the old TOS stated that Facebook would forfeit the rights to any original content uploaded to the site once a user closed his or her account. The new TOS ammended this to read:
You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.
The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.
So what exactly does that mean? It means that what you upload onto Facebook belongs to Facebook FOREVER. Scary right? (Particularly scary for an SNR like me who has a cancelled Facebook account filled with content floating in cyberspace)
Once the internet community and SNR converts picked up on this story, Facebook had a full-blown revolt on their hands and founder Mark Zuckerberg was forced to come out of his hole and respond:
"In reality, we wouldn't share your information in a way you wouldn't want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment."
No good enough Mark. It's hard for me to trust a blood-sucking corporation such as yours. And so the revolt continued and today Facebook felt the pressure:
If you want to share your thoughts on what should be in the new terms, check out our group Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
It seems like Facebook did the right thing this time but they need to remember in the future not to fuck with the hand that feeds them.
Yet another reason to jump on the SNR bandwagon...
Here's an update in case you haven't been following the story of George Appleton (aka "Facebook Fugitive"), key suspect in the brutal murder of ex-girlfriend, Clare Wood, whose body had been found strangled and burned in her UK home on Feb. 6th. Police's pursuit of Applewood ended on Feb. 12th when his body was discovered hanging from a rundown building in Manchester.
Appleton, who met Wood on Facebook, had a long history of sexual assault and had been jailed twice prior for offenses against women. Reports indicate that Appleton was introduced to internet dating in prison in 2005. Prior to the discovery of his body, police released a list of the dating websites and usernames used by Appleton as a warning to women that they should not arrange to meet him.
This story is nothing new. Since it's birth, the Internet has been a haven for creeps and sexual deviants. But you'd think after all these years of being warned by shows like "To Catch a Predator" us women would know better than to go looking for love online. Okay, okay so I know I'm being a flaming hypocrite since I met my honey bunny on Match.com, but at least I used some sort of screening process. There are some people out there- women AND men- who post their mailing addresses on sites like Facebook. Not only is this stupid but in the age of email, it's totally unneccessary. When was the last time you received an actual letter? That's so 1989! But in all seriousness people, learn from poor Clare and protect your identity!
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Unless you live with the mole people. I'm sure you've heard about the dramatic events of last weekend involving the queen of branding herself, Rihanna and mega-douchebag boyfriend Chris Brown. The night before the Grammy's, Brown allegedly beat the Barbadian singer to the point of unconsciousness. Both celebs were scheduled to perform but were no shows at the awards ceremony. Brown has been in seclusion in Vegas since the incident but spoke out for the first time on what else but FACEBOOK. Probably not the smartest move to make a public statement on a social networking site but we're talking about a man who thinks it's acceptable to "pimp slap" women. One would assume that he would perhaps offer an apology or show some sort of remorse but this moron not only changed his relationship status to "single" but also posted the following: "You'll begin to see her true colors. Believe it!"
Okay, so let me get this straight Chris-- your 100 lb girlfriend is to blame for the heavy bruisng and BITE MARKS you inflicted on her? This guy needs to be locked up, with or without Rihanna's testimony.
But Chris's actions is apparently a growing trend in social networking ettiquette. A new survey has revealed that 48% of those under 21 and 18% of 22-30-year-olds say they have publicly dumped a loved one in the last 12 months via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This reminds me of the Facebook Divorce story I posted recently. I'm glad to hear the percentages lower as one becomes more mature but it still seems like an awfully shitty way of getting dumped. Happy Valentine's Day!
"A source close to Brown tells Usmagazine.com that the R&B singer has not been updating his Facebook status with messages about Rihanna.
Earlier the New York post reported that Brown updated his status to say "Single" and wrote "You'll begin to see her true colors. Believe it!"
But the source tells Us: "Due to the dubious nature of the Facebook page, I don't know how anybody would believe this. Of course Chris did not comment himself and this is not his Facebook page. A little research shows that there are tons of Chris imposters on Facebook and none of them are Chris, including this one."
Brown remains free on $50,000 bail as the D.A. decides whether to press charges against him for the alleged altercation last Sunday."
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
This is getting ugly. In the war to see who controls the moldable minds of today's youth, Facebook appears to be the victor. And to him should go the spoils. In an interview today with The Sydney Morning Herald, MySpace's co-founder, Brett Brewer, "tapped out" and conceded that Facebook is the true UFC (ultimate friending champion).
More interestingly is Brewer's reasoning behind the smackdown:
"There's a fundamental shift going on. Both sites are … different. We built MySpace for people to find and connect with people they don't know. Facebook is … built around connecting with people you already know. Clearly, the world eagerly embraced MySpace, but as the average person has adopted social networks, where they come to first is making connections with the people they already know."
If what he says is true, it's fasinating to me that people are so desperate to cling to what they already know, even in an anonymous setting. I'm no different. I hate change. But I think the fact that Facebook beat out MySpace because of this says a lot about society and it's unwillingness to depart from their comfort zone.
However, I'm not about to trust this guy's concession completely. The Herald also mentions that Brewer left the company to set up an online ad network that deals with BOTH companies. Looks like Mr. Brewer may be playing for the other team now.
Monday, February 9, 2009
So far an estimated 5 million of these notes have been created— that's 125 million facts- approximating about 800,000 hours of work!
Come on people! There are better, more productive ways to spend your time. I'll be the first to admit how fun talking about yourself is. Hell, I've been know to fill out a few of those e-mail surveys myself. But does anyone really care that I occasionally enjoy dipping my pizza in blue cheese (a by-product of going to school in upstate NY) or that my favorite pastime is shopping at TJMaxx or that I used to scare my little sister by telling her that she'd end up marrying Willow? The obvious answer is NO.
Therefore I've decided to craft my own little list entitled:
25 BETTER LISTS I COULD BE MAKING:
1) 25 reasons that Octomom should have her kids taken away
2) 25 things I could do to apologize to my sister for torturing her all those years (re: Willow)
3) 25 things I would do to the jackasses that graffiti all over my building
4) 25 tattoos I would get if I was ever tacky enough to get a tattoo (no offense to readers with tattoos- just not my personal thing)
5) 25 ways to make more money
6) 25 friends I could invite to an Oscar party
7) 25 reasons why social networking sucks
8) 25 future goals
9) 25 reasons I'm lucky
10) 25 people I could help
11) 25 influences in my life
12) 25 things I could do to be a better citizen
13) 25 things I could do to help clean-up my neighborhood
14) 25 things I could do to spend more time with my parents
15) 25 reasons why Suri Cruise is an alien princess
16) 25 classic movies I need to see
17) 25 reasons why Verizon Wireless is an evil monopoly
18) 25 things I can't wait to do this summer
19) 25 places I'd want to go on a honeymoon
20) 25 of the first items I'd get if I was ever on Supermarket Sweep
21) 25 things I would grab if there was a fire in my building and I needed to evacuate
22) 25 things I would do for a $1 million
23) 25 things I would do if I had $1 million
24) 25 names for my future French bulldog (although I'm leaning towards "Beef")
25) 25 reasons why this list is probably no better or more important than the one on Facebook
Friday, February 6, 2009
After driving myself (not to mention my boyfriend) nuts with my endless agnozing, we decided for the sake of our otherwise healthy relationship that one of us would need to end our Facebook relationship. In the end, it was me that took the plunge and I am grateful for this one less stress in my life. Unfortunately, not all situations ended as happily as mine. According to the Daily Mail, Emma Brady will be getting the "world's first divorce by Facebook."
The Daily Mail also reported:
Brady, a 35-year-old conference organizer, claims that she found out that her husband wanted a divorce via Facebook. She said her friend was looking at Facebook and discovered that Brady's husband, a 39-year-old IT consultant, had posted this message: "Neil Brady has ended his marriage to Emma Brady."
And it gets worse: Emma said that she then saw a message from someone else that stated that Neil was "better off out of it."Can you even imagine? How awful! This is the ultimate Dear John story of the digital age.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
This week on the Howard Stern Show, Howard revealed to his audience that wife Beth O. had created a Facebook account for him over the weekend. In true Howard fashion, he decided immediately that he hated it especially after discovering that much of his staff was using the social networking site at work. To drive his point home, he pulled up the Facebook page of Howard TV employee Mike Gange and proceeded to critique all of Mike's update messages which ranged from "Mike is happy" to "Mike is going to see 'Taken'." Howard made an excellent point- who cares?
In past discussions, Howard commented that anyone over the age of 15 shouldn't be on Facebook or any other social networking site: "People want to share themselves with the world. Everyone's so interesting- get a job! If you're on Facebook and you don't work, then shame on you. If you have time for Facebook than you have time to work." Click here for more of Howard's rant:
Everyone wants to know what the next big thing will be and I have a feeling Google will take the reigns on this too. I've been hearing a lot of buzz about orkat. According to Wikipedia orkut is the most visited website in Brazil and second most visited site in India. In 2008, more than 23 million of Brazilians had an account on orkut.
This intrigues me because orkat it has the potential to truly be a global social networking site. People may eventually use this amazing technology to reach beyond there comfort zone instead of befriending all the people they already know. But seeing how most people (including myself) use facebook to stalk ex's, I may just being idealistic.