For as one star another far exceeds, So souls in heaven are placed by their deeds.
- Robert Greene, English Author (1558?-1592)
Over the weekend, Facebook took down a message by the Special Operations Speaks PAC (SOS) which highlighted the fact that Obama denied backup to the forces being overrun in Benghazi.
The message was contained in a meme which demonstrated how Obama had relied on the SEALS when he was ready to let them get Osama bin Laden, and how he had turned around and denied them when they called for backup on Sept 11.
I spoke with Larry Ward, president of Political Media, Inc — the media company that handles SOS postings and media production. Ward was the one who personally put the Navy SEAL meme up, and the one who received the warning from Facebook and an eventual 24 hour suspension from Facebook because Ward put the meme back up after Facebook told him to take it down.
Mark Zuckerberg may have more money than God, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the Facebook of today is tomorrow’s MySpace – the way the Internet evolves, even though it really wasn’t all that long ago, you almost have to think back hard to remember when MySpace was cool. It will be the same thing with Facebook, a place in the social media world that was, back in the day, a cool place to hang out at – a billion accounts that will become used less and less and ultimately the whole Facebook phenomenon will be just a be a period of time that will be remembered with a quaint nostalgia, a trend that came and went on the Internet.
Facebook’s flash in the pan may last a little longer than MySpace, but that’s exactly where they’re headed and that’s a good thing because their whole existence is based on selling out you and all your personal data and not just the data they’ve accumulated from the time you’ve spent on Facebook, but from data they compile on you from all corners of the Internet.
Max Schrems, 24, the Austrian law student who sued Facebook for its complete record of his personal data was recently astounded to receive 1,222 pages of information. As Steve Klingaman says, “Some of it made sense – old Wall postings and photos – but some of it was material he had never even entered into Facebook. His action spurred more than 40,000 requests for Facebook data in Europe.”
It’s not as harmless as just watching your habits and then offering you up relevant pay-per-click ads the way Amazon does, it goes way beyond that. Facebook’s revenue from pay-per-clicks is miniscule compared to what they get selling you and your 1,222 pages of info to third party aggregators who then sell you and your 1,222 pages to lenders, credit agencies, insurers, prospective employers, the IRS, you name it.
The one thing you can say about Facebook is they timed their IPO perfectly when they were at the height of their hype, but when you consider that whoring out your personal data is their only real profit model and when you consider that there should have been some lessons learned from the dot com bust, I feel no pity for people who bought into Facebook’s IPO at $38 and now see their shares at $21. The company that has lost about $50 billion from its original value of $100 billion at its IPO is never going to see that money rematerialize.
Apple is the richest company on the planet because they sell tangible things that consumers crave. Same with Cisco and Amazon who both survived the dot com bubble, losing about 90% of their value only to reclaim it and then some in the decade that’s followed, but Facebook has all the same characteristics of every other company people lost their asses on during the dot com bust – Facebook is all sizzle, no steak.
As a person who has laid myself bare to the world on the posts all over this blog, the privacy issues are obviously not the main source of my disdain for Facebook as it is for many, and for most people, Facebook will fall out of relevance for the simple fact that it’s already peaked and there will be new places to move on to. For me though, it’s incidents like this – Special Operations Speaks, Facebook Censors – that will make me enjoy every moment of their slide into lesser relevance on the Internet.
UPDATE: Facebook reversed itself, but they still suck.