Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

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Zuckerberg has lost touch

January 11, 2010

On watching this interview, I was struck by the naivete of Mark Zuckerberg’s view of the world.

The Good

Zuckerberg, the 25-year-old CEO of Facebook, argues that privacy is ‘no longer a social norm’.  It’s an interesting proposition, and one that deserves exploration.  Are people’s views of privacy changing?  Was privacy ever a ‘social norm’, and if so what does that mean?  Is there  evidence now that public views of privacy have changed?

Interesting questions.

The Bad

The problem is that these are not simple quesions, and it is unclear whether Zuckerberg’s view is based on anything more than his particular 25-years’ experience.  The closest thing he has to an argument is this:

When I got started in my dorm room at Harvard, the question a lot of people asked was, ‘why would I want to put any information on the internet at all? Why would I want to have a website?’.  Then in the last 5 or 6 years, blogging has taken off in a huge way, and just all these different services that have people sharing all this information.

It’s not an argument, it’s a personal anecdote, followed by a platitude about the growth of blogging and ways to share information online, reaching a conclusion about the views of all the people, presumably, in the world.

Zuckerberg’s argument is further flawed because it is so obviously self-serving.  In a way, no matter the validity of what he is saying (and it is not valid), he of all people just can’t credibly say it.  If Facebook wants to make this case, it should find ways to come across as objective.  Let others say it, perhaps, or provide evidence.

The Ugly

Facebook’s decisions about my privacy, which are taken from time to time without my permission, are simply out of my control.  That is not the same as my not expecting privacy – which is what Zuckerberg is implying by his statement about social norms.  Perhaps he has some evidence that paints me as abnormally focused on privacy.  If so – let’s see it.

The long-term issue here is trust.  The more Facebook fosters distrust among its users, the sooner they will leave at the first genuine opportunity.  Don’t get me wrong – Facebook currently is the best platform in the market for doing what it does.  But it won’t be forever, and it’s popularity can disappear as quickly as it has grown.  Time to go back to having a ‘beginner’s mind’, Mark, and start listening.

Posted via web from The good, the bad and the ugly

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Facebook’s last roll of the dice?

May 27, 2009

Facebook has sold a $200m stake to a private Russian investment group. This is its last chance to succeed by going down a road nobody else has tried.

Is that alarmist? I don’t think so. Zuckerburg and his team should be complimented for their attempts to do things differently – after all the biggest prize often goes to the innovation that leaves the competition behind. Just look at Apple and the success of iPod, which eight years after its launch, still easily leads the portable music device market.

But the problem with rolling the dice is that you need to show the audience at some point that you have a knack of winning, otherwise you look like you are gambling.

Look at Ev Williams – there’s a guy with a knack of winning. Having founded both Blogger and Twitter, he epitomises not only Silicon Valley entrepreneurial success, but business success.

But Zuckerburg is still dining out after his first success – the launch of Facebook. Since then, he has overseen the launch of the Facebook Platform, had to quell – and then acknowledge – rumours about a Facebook payment platform, and totally redesigned Facebook to resemble a twitter hybrid.

The problem is that none of these has had the effect of changing the game. In fact, the latest design changes to Facebook to some extent diminished the impact of third-party apps (i.e. I can’t find them any more), and repeated customer service failures (see here and here) mean some people are beginning to think Zuckerburg and his team don’t have a game plan – or winner’s luck.

Whatever Facebook does with this $200m had better rewrite the rules, or there will be a very unhappy group of Russian investors wondering where their money has gone.

Facebook *has* to become more than this (though it is very funny):