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Facebook Beacon Archive
I get that Facebook has a ton of benefits for social networking, business rolodex building, that some believe it’s better than LinkedIn for business networking, etc. Some of my friends like Jeremiah Owyang have fully pimped-out Facebook profiles, while I must admit that my profile is a bit bare. But there are parts of it that I just struggle with seeing where this is a viable company worth $15 billion dollars. I’d like to share two examples from today.
Is this Beacon?
I logged in today to approve friend requests and see what the people on my friends list are up to when I was presented with the first "sponsored" message inside of my News Feed for Blockbuster Video and a one-month free trial. Alright, I get the sponsored messaging inside of the feed. But what makes this ad a bit different is that Techcrunch editor Mike Arrington appears to be endorsing this company. I am guessing that Mike didn’t approve this message to be sent to his friends in a manner that looks like an endorsement (I will try to contact him for confirmation). It’s one thing to say that "x friend installed y app" but to use the friend’s photo next to the advert which is clearly below the install message seems over-the-top.
So I went and installed the Blockbuster app and nowhere did it say on installation that I might be used as an endorser for the app and for the Blockbuster rental service. So could my face be now injected into other’s feeds that I am endorsing Blockbuster? Facebook apparently still has work to do with their ad program. Maybe they should stick to ads for "sexy women in their 30s" in my area — because you just know those ads work.
Creating Groups That Are Meaningless
No one cares about the "save xyz" groups – let’s stop creating them, please. Then I receive the following email today which I get similar ones about three times a week.
Ian invited you to join the Facebook group "The I Bet Jonas Will Get Atleast 300 Friends on Facebook Group". Ian says, "This is an emergency. Jonas need 300 friends. Now! –I".
Why do I give a crap about Jonas and why is it an emergency?
I believe Facebook is going to have to decide whether it’s a social network or a business network or at least give users a choice to decide which side of Facebook to participate in. If I want only business, give it to me. If I want only social, give it to me. And if I want both, that’s up to me. How do you use Facebook today?
The big Facebook news today is that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for the company’s handling of the Beacon launch. The net result is that Beacon is now opt-in though it’s still data collecting for everyone UNLESS you specifically tell them not to using this link.
But WHY ISN’T this on the member’s profiles as an announcement. When I login, I see nothing about Beacon nor about these new options for privacy. So it’s easy to apologize in a closet but why not stand up and let all of your customers know? Naturally 1% (maybe) of Facebook customers read the FB blog. So it’s a good attempt but doesn’t win me over.
As for the valuation issue, since MS was banking on this from the conference call I listened in on, there’s certainly some financial issues that will still need to be addressed.
I guess I need to update the through the years post about Facebook.
Some additional good reads on the apology:
- Om gets NYC-style fired up and questions exactly what the change means
- Dave McClure who is the #1 facebook fan believes it should still be opt-out (I haven’t commented on my thoughts yet)
- Donna says the apology wasn’t good enough and we went from “revolutionary new ad product” to something less revolutionary
side note: I hate the term mea culpa. Let’s not use it anymore kthx.
It’s always amazing to me to watch how quick the Internets shift on a product, service or person. One day it’s love, the next day it’s hate. It seems that we are in the hate portion of Facebook these days. Let’s take a quick look back at the past few months for Facebook:
May 24, 2007
Facebook launches Facebook Platform in San Francisco in front of nearly 1,000 bloggers, journalists and developers. Facebook called the Google killer, the next Web, G-d. Applications work overtime to create Facebook versions of their apps and the press releases continue like mad over the Facebook app releases.
August 23, 2007
The WSJ reports that Facebook is working on a new advertising project to revolutionize how ads are served to Facebook users. Mild concern but very few details.
August 27, 2007
Facebook changes the way it lets apps speak to profiles to curb abuse. Appears the top applications spammed users to get the counts they did. Questions arose whether the top apps should be able to keep the users they had, but were left alone in the end.
September 17, 2007
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces fbFund, a program to offer monies to developers who create Facebook applications. Developers excited and begin sending in applications via email (WTF?). Allen worried about this as to how they will manage the requests.
September 21, 2007
Google holds confidential meeting about opening it’s technology to developers. It’s since released and is named OpenSocial and some wonder if it was a response to Google being scared of Facebook.
October 8, 2007
Facebook takes a mulligan, requires all developers who applied to the fbFund to resubmit. Allen to say, "I told you so".
October 24, 2007
Facebook takes Microsoft’s money – $240 million on a $15 billion valuation.
October 30, 2007
Google’s OpenSocial goes live – blogosphere lines up in sheep formation and moves from Facebook camp to Google camp.
November 6, 2007
their revolutionary advertising platform Beacon. Shortly thereafter, backlash begins around privacy concerns.
November 21, 2007
A variety of Google’rs moving to Facebook causes alarms to go off.
November 28, 2007
BusinessWeek reports that Facebook is getting ready to announce Beacon changes based on user feedback.
November 29, 2007
Facebook’s Beacon advertising platform moves to 2.0 based on user outrage over privacy concerns.
November 30, 2007
Facebook picks up another $60 million from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing.
December 2, 2007
Coke backs out on Facebook ad deal.
If you remember anything I have shared since CN began, it’s the line from the Honeymooners:
You better be very nice to the people on the way up… because you will see the same people on the way down.
Is Facebook headed for doom? Certainly not. Is it time to suck up and apologize and not act like some mythical g-d like figure? Yes. Let’s watch how the pendulum swings for the balance of 2007. It certainly seems like it’s swinging further out on the "hate" side each day the last few months.
Anne has already called 2008 the year of the business network. A bit early for 2008 predictions but I can’t disagree. Perhaps the big winner out of this year was LinkedIn and MySpace.
Please add in the dates and events I have missed – thanks!