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Is Mark Zuckerberg the Next Steve Case?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the case-in-point dept.

America Online 470

theodp writes "With all signs for Facebook pointing up, author Douglas Rushkoff goes contra, arguing that Facebook hype will fade. 'Appearances can be deceiving,' says Rushkoff. 'In fact, as I read the situation, we are witnessing the beginning of the end of Facebook. These aren't the symptoms of a company that is winning, but one that is cashing out.' Rushkoff, who made a similar argument about AOL eleven years ago in a quashed NY Times op-ed, reminds us that AOL was also once considered ubiquitous and invincible, and former AOL CEO Steve Case was deemed no less a genius than Mark Zuckerberg. 'So it's not that MySpace lost and Facebook won,' concludes Rushkoff. 'It's that MySpace won first, and Facebook won next. They'll go down in the same order.'"

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470 comments

Dead on. (5, Interesting)

headhot (137860) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813858)

In my network, posts are getting sparser and sparser. Just like the end of Freindser, or Orkut, or any other social network system. People get bored and stop. It the infusion of new users that drives their survival, and Facebook my be nearing the end of people willing to sign up.

Re:Dead on. (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813892)

Why do a social network need new users for the existing users to be willing to communicate?

I haven't seen any difference in the activity in my feed, and I haven't added more than just 5 users the last year.

Re:Dead on. (5, Insightful)

muuh-gnu (894733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814032)

Why did those users need a web based so called "social network" to communicate in the first place? Before FB, they had email, forums, IRC, IMs, why did they need a web based communicaiton tool? Once they were all over those web based networks, why did every 2-3 years one network win over the users of a former network-de-jour? Because every one was purely technically "better" than all the former ones? Dream on.

I think this "ease of use" premise with regard to socal networks way always false, I think what always drove people to new means of communication was the quest for other new people. Communities of any kind, be it RL cliques, IRC channels or social networks, tend to dry up with regard to interesting new content once there is no influx of new blood. Then users one by one, beginning with the influentiel trend setters, like queen bees, tend to wander around in search for a more interesting, cool new beehive. If, no, _when_ they find one, all the lower status worker bees will naturally follow, since the value of the old place drops significantly without the social leaders. People, especially the more easily bored social leaders, are somehow in an eternal quest for change. They tend to easily be bored in a low flox environment. The only thing FB _can_ do is prolong the time the queen bees will be interested enough to stay before their search goes on. They may hold them for 5 years but even that does not sound realistic. They will never be able to simply stop the migration, since this would mean rewiring hardwired behavioral patterns, which one tiny website, no matter how much users it by chance may have at a certain point of time, will simply not be able to do.

Re:Dead on. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814058)

I would disagree.

I don't post on facebook much but it has gotten me in touch with a lot of past friends.

It is an easy way to post pictures of the family without clogging people e-mail box.

Also, and most important to me, if I have a situation where people wants regular updates(my kid deathly sick in the hospital),
it is an easy way to send them without annoying people.

I can also follow friends and family with annoying them.

Re:Dead on. (0)

calzones (890942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814220)

A personal CMS does the same.

Re:Dead on. (2)

AnttiV (1805624) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814324)

Yes it does. But which one takes more resources to install/maintain? Which one is easier and faster to set up for "moms and pops"? And the latest trend.. which one runs/can be used straight from Android/iOS without the need of a computer of any kind...

Re:Dead on. (0)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814342)

which one runs/can be used straight from Android/iOS without the need of a computer of any kind...

Except the one running Android or iOS, and of course the program itself. Software does not run on aether, you know.

Re:Dead on. (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814358)

Blogspot is just as easy as facebook, and a lot more customizable for that kind of stuff. The only thing facebook is really good for is stalking.

Re:Dead on. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814444)

A "persona CMS" isn't really a solution yet, I'm surprised it was suggested.

I would bet very few of the people capable of setting up their "personal CMS" really care to spend time on it to build up the features they want, keep up with all the security patches for the CMS, various plug-ins and the underlying server. Even supposing it was a solution, then you have a matter of different friends and relatives having different CMSs and no simple means of accessing it at one site with one login. Such a system would make finding relatives a bit hard. Hopefully Diaspora solves all this, but until that's truly ready, I just don't see how a personal CMS can really take the place of anything that looks remotely like a social network.

Re:Dead on. (1)

calzones (890942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814480)

It's only a matter of time before someone releases a personal cms that is easier to use than facebook, requires no visiting of websites or ad-riddled pages, which networks you automatically with other friends using the same or similar competing cms, which allows you to microblog instead of relying on centralizes twitter and which also gives you, the user, your own customizable "web portal" news and friend updates aggregation dashboard of your own -- instead of relying on something like yahoo.com

This will come form both the OSS movement and from someone like Apple or Google.

Facebook as-is, is doomed. So is Twitter.

Re:Dead on. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814266)

> gotten me in touch with a lot of past friends.
> It is an easy way to post pictures of the family
> my kid deathly sick in the hospital
> I can also follow friends and family

You do not sound like a change leader queen bee who would ever want to change hives but more like a low-content worker bee who would just passively follow and sign up wherever another worker bees would sign up.

Re:Dead on. (5, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814294)

^ this,

Social networking has never interested me much, but during the birth of my child, my wife was in labour for nearly 15 hours. Normally, we would have had all sorts of friends and family trying to ring us or text us or whatever, just to know what was going on. Instead, I opted to tweet various status updates (which were automatically posted on facebook). This turned out to be a brilliant idea (I was just looking for something to do at the time) as people were kept up to date, nobody could complain that they weren't "told first" (something that happened when we announced our wedding) and all the messages coming through could be read at our leisure.

It was also just as easy to post up a picture mere minutes after he was born, once again everyone that WANTED to know did and those that didn't could just ignore it.
That would never work with email, or IRC or even instant messaging.

Re:Dead on. (1, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814334)

That would never work with email, or IRC or even instant messaging.

Uh...what? Your use case sounds like a perfect example of how to use a chatroom -- real time updates about a situation. That is exactly how I see LUG channels and 2600 channels being used.

There's one BIG difference. (3, Informative)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814204)

....for whatever reason. People signed on to Facebook with their real names.

It's the first popular social network where you can actually find people from real life.

Re:There's one BIG difference. (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814274)

Well, I guess if by "popular" you mean to include non-computer users, you are correct. On the other hand, there was once a time when people used their real names on Usenet (in fact, some still do), and people would meet each other using Usenet.

Re:There's one BIG difference. (2)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814412)

....for whatever reason. People signed on to Facebook with their real names.

It's the first popular social network where you can actually find people from real life.

I've heard this before, but why does that make them different? Why can't the Next Big Thing also use real names, if that is such a required feature?

And it seems like "real names" is one of the things that makes Facebook so annoying. Nobody wants "mom" or hiring managers reading the messages intended for drinking buddies. People hate being forced to choose between turning down friend requests from certain real friends and having to sanitize everything they write because everyone you know will be reading it.

Or to put it a different way, what's so hard about telling your friends, in person, through email, or using Facebook, that your user ID on some new service is joe@example.com?

Re:Dead on. (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814356)

Why did those users need a web based so called "social network" to communicate in the first place? Before FB, they had email, forums, IRC, IMs, why did they need a web based communicaiton tool?

Because they couldn't find each other over email, forums, IRC, IMs. Facebook's big innovation, if you could call it that, was pressuring people to give up their privacy and use real names. Of course, they did prove that giving up some privacy has benefits, as well as the well-known disadvantages we've been taught to fear.

Me, I wish I could believe Rushkoff, and that Facebook would go the way of Myspace and AOL. But it's not for many years yet - possibly very many.

Re:Dead on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814492)

2 years max. No, I don't have a citation. It is a prediction, pure and simple. I actually believe Rushkoff is correct and these things do ramp up, peak for some period of time, then die off. I'm putting my 1 cent on Facebook already being at that peak.

all form of comm are not the same. (1)

cenobyte40k (831687) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814468)

Right I mean we had phones before that so why the email or IRC and before that we had the USPS so why bother with the phone and before that we had messenger services so who needed the USPS. Just because it's a new form of communication does not mean it acts in the same way that all other forms of communication does. Following you logic is doesn't make sense to ever buy a new book.

Re:Dead on. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814490)

Haven't read the article yet, but I think it's also a generational thing. The last generation was on myspace, then before that AOL. These services have a shelf life of a generation. People just getting into net based services aren't going to be attracted to myspace. Why? It's old to them. Same with fb. Soon The current generation will see it as something as being established. They want a service they can grow up with, so they can feel like being part of a revolution. Look at any popular restaurant or department store. They are soo often defined by the generation they grow up with. In an effort to keep that generation's interest, they do stuff that makes it still backwards compatible. In doing so, they make it different for newer gens to identify with them. The fact that they aren't fresh and new doesn't help either.

Re:Dead on. (5, Interesting)

boxwood (1742976) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814090)

New users spend a lot more time on the site, post more content, send more messages, etc.

I've been on facebook for years. I rarely update my status or post photos now. All of my friends who have been on there for a while are the same. Sometimes I meet someone who just got on facebook and they post more messages so I load up facebook more often to see what messages they've posted to me. But after a while they get bored too, post less often, and so I have less need to go to facebook.

Facebook became the most popular website due to the network effect, but they will become less popular due to the boredom effect. As more people become bored with facebook they stop posting and just go to read what everyone else is up to. But as more people transition from adding content to just viewing content, there is less content and less reason to go there to view content. And now that more people are becoming aware of privacy issues with facebook it becomes even less likely they will post stuff there.

So it has a big userbase, but a lot of that userbase is bored. When the next cool thing comes out that "everyone" is using, they will just use that and not bother with facebook anymore.

Re:Dead on. (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814258)

At some point, I think all social networking bullshit will inevitably be reduced to about 10% of what it currently is.

People will finally grasp what the rest of us grasped ages ago. That is, I have nothing worth saying that hundreds or thousands of people need to know about and none of them have anything worth saying that I give a damn about. We're all just a bunch of circle-jerking morons so wrapped up in ourselves and the trivial reciprocation (to ensure that those in our circle will continue to care about us, too). Eventually people will pull their heads out of their own asses and move on.

They'll return to the way things should be done. If you have something important to say and there are people in your life that are important enough to tell it to, you email them or call them. You have a direct dialogue with them, rather than this self-absorbed mass-broadcasting of everything, where those who are on the other end are merely absorbers of your greatness. And they'll contact you directly when they have something to talk about, too. Everything else doesn't need to be shared and you can have actual individual relationships and discussions with people.

It's the same way we went through the whole web thing. The first time you discovered the web, you probably spent endless hours doing random things, just because it was new and amazing. Fifteen years later, you recognize that the web is a vast wasteland of shit and you only utilize it and things on it when you have a specific objective. Random surfing is largely a thing of the past.

It also reminds me of the AOL days (during the time, I was an engineer at Netscape) in that "everyone" was amazed by it as a consumer or an investor, but everyone I knew saw it as an obsolete toy for people that hadn't yet grown out of it. And people eventually did. Just like there are countless rational people who step back and shake their heads at Facebook and the never-ending self-important social-networking habits of people . . . which we recognize as doomed to become obsolete.

Re:Dead on. (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814350)

It is kind of hard for people to be motivated to post more when they aren't assured of their privacy and they don't know how their messages may come back to haunt them.

Huh? (4, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813860)

So if the Facebook hype is fading and FB already cashing in, what is the competitor and why did their user base just go from 500 million people to 600 million people? Facebook is stronger than ever, and I don't see why they have to keep increasing their user base to remain profitable. Google don't need to attract new users to their search engine all the time in order to stay profitable, since it's ad driven, not driven by signups.

Until there is a good competitor to Facebook, Facebook has absolutely no problems, and its future isn't even dim.

Re:Huh? (1)

Leon Buijs (545859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813906)

Come on, how many of those accounts are updated regularly? If they were all that active, FB would be Google.

Re:Huh? (5, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813944)

There are 3 stages.
Early adopters: It is the new hip thing to do. Also this is where the zealots and the big fans come in. This was the area when face book was considered a social network for college kids.

Middle adopters: This is where the product gets it's name recognition. And big envesters come in. This is where it really grows. you don't need to be hip to use it it is mostly expected.

Late adopters: Ok it isn't a fad. That is when grandma gets an account. It is big and the early adopters start leaving to the next big thing.

So even when you go from stage 2-3 you are still growing. But you are approaching the end.

Re:Huh? (4, Interesting)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814036)

I'd really like to see the demographic of the msot active accounts. Just from my own anecdotal evidence. the vast majority of facebook users seem to be teen girls. Most adults I know use Facebook as a specific tool; to get name recognition for an election, to spread word of an art show, etc.

The teen girls seem to use it for social networking the most.

Teen girls grow up, get boyfriends, move on. Adults, with few exceptions, don't really use facebook in a way markedly different from a blog or even an email newsletter.

So a demographic would really be instructive.

Re:Huh? (1, Interesting)

supremebob (574732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814224)

Actually, I noticed that bored stay at home mothers seem to dominate the majority of my Facebook posts. They just LOVE posting pictures of their kids doing stupid stuff, and sharing parenting tips that they found online.

Re:Huh? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814240)

And I think the problem for the teen girl demographic is that their parents are on there. In the UK, Blackberry Messenger seems to be more popular in that demographic.

Re:Huh? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814300)

Most adults I know use facebook to communicate with one another, find long-lost friends, or keep tabs on their teen children (then they gravitate to the former options).

Re:Huh? (1)

supremebob (574732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814202)

Only problem is that I haven't seen a worthy replacement for Facebook to migrate to, yet. Sure, I'd love a place to post stuff to my network of friends without having to worry about my mother/nosey uncle/boss reading it, but there doesn't seem to be anything out there that seems superior.

Re:Huh? (1)

craigminah (1885846) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814262)

Only problem is that I haven't seen a worthy replacement for Facebook to migrate to, yet. Sure, I'd love a place to post stuff to my network of friends without having to worry about my mother/nosey uncle/boss reading it, but there doesn't seem to be anything out there that seems superior.

What about Ping? (yes I'm being sarcastic)

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814440)

ah.. the reason it never took off is that hipster douchebags are still (thankfully) in minority.

Re:Huh? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814302)

What about...email? You know, email is a good way to send pictures and updates about your life to your friends and family, and the best part is, you have total control over who gets to read it -- no complex privacy settings needed. Sure, your friends might get annoyed with you sending them one inane update about your life after another...but maybe that is an indication of how interested they are in what you have been posting on Facebook.

Re:Huh? (1)

Xacid (560407) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814464)

I'm going to have to agree and disagree with a lot of these sentiments. Overall I think the Early Adopters are getting bored. Afterall - we're the early adopters because we like "newness".

However, because of the late adopters (our older family members we didn't keep in touch with very well before) are the reasons a lot of us will stick around.

There was another post on here suggesting email being a viable replacement...who wants to teach grandma how to attach pictures and cc everyone she wants that email to go to? It's simple for us of course, but not as simple as facebook.

The thing that sold me on facebook was a certain level of it being more streamlined than the other social networking sites. Now it's as bloated as say AOL's software suite. But maybe those increased features are at the level of "newness" that the early and middle adopters need to keep interested.

The next big thing will probably just be something almost exactly like facebook but with a better interface and set of features.

Facebook doesn't fill a necessary role (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813992)

When you get down to it, Facebook doesn't actually do something people need -- it is fun, people like it, but people had friends and social networks before Facebook, MySpace, BBSes, etc. People talk about how Facebook puts them in touch with lost friends; my experience has been that people are "in touch" only to the extent of clicking adding the person to their friends list, and then never speaking to them again. Farmville is not really a killer app, it is just an amusement. Facebook could vanish suddenly tomorrow, and I doubt that society would be seriously affected by its absence.

Re:Facebook doesn't fill a necessary role (5, Insightful)

takowl (905807) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814038)

When you get down to it, there are several multi-billion dollar industries entirely based around things we don't really need, and many that have been around for a good while. Music, film, drugs, sports, perfume, computer games... In fact, in first world countries, stuff people don't need probably accounts for the majority of economic activity*. Facebook is hardly unique in that respect.

*Disclaimer: this claim is a wild guess based on no actual statistics, and what people "need" is arguable anyway.

Re:Facebook doesn't fill a necessary role (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814060)

Well, I was replying to a post that said it was unfathomable for Facebook to die, because of how many users it has. My point is that, in fact, it is not unfathomable, because Facebook everything that Facebook does is either redundant or useless, in terms of what people need. All of the industries you named have prominent examples of companies and styles that have go under because people just stopped being interested or because their product or style was not fashionable anymore.

Re:Facebook doesn't fill a necessary role (1, Interesting)

N3Bruce (154308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814124)

I had the Farmville virus for a few months last winter, until the program got impossible to load. Fast forward 6 months, I decided to try again just for the heck of it. I had something like 30 neighbors at my peak, but when I looked around about 80% of the farms were withered, fallow, or plowed with nothing planted. Same with Mafia Wars, which I had also given up on and not really looked back. Got tired of all the stupid stuff the games put up on your wall if you want the game to help you. The messages sent to friends that have already quit the game are an annoyance to them as well.

I still check in daily, mostly for a few characters that tend to put up entertaining links or posts. Mostly I am a lurker, but I occasionally comment on someone else's post, but 90 percent of the stuff in my Top News is trashable.

Re:Huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814026)

You can't go by account numbers. I know many people creating extra accounts purely to enhance their zynga gaming.

Re:Huh? (2)

Brewmeister_Z (1246424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814186)

The ship Titanic was doing great too... until it ran upon an iceberg. The Facebook problem is that it is over-valued based on what private investors have dumped into it. They don't want to go public since their books would reveal how little Facebook makes of its ads (which I block since many are one click away from malware so the whole lot must be blocked). When Facebook goes IPO, people will buy it up and make money for the current investors and then it will dry up like the last .com bubble burst.

User base growth is deceptive since many of these accounts are duplicates. Many people have an account for real life friends and then fictitious accounts for games that require and army of 501 "friends" to actually have a chance of advancing and not be beat up by everyone else with a larger army. With these fictitious accounts, the users add only other users active in those games. Farmville and Mafia Wars have driven casual non-gaming users insane with all the requests and status updates. Zynga has probably hurt Facebook more than it has helped for long-term growth and user retention. Granted, changes to Facebook to separate games into there own feed and block applications has helped but the dilemma is still upon the users to either learn the controls or just abandon their account. How many of those 600 million users are dormant and visited less than once a week/month or never again?

Re:Huh? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814278)

There's a huge supply of people who haven't participated yet, but of those who have, many are not looking for the "next hot new competitor" to jump to as much as they're simply opting out of the whole social networking bullshit. It's just a matter of time before the tide turns and even more people wake the fuck up, look at their phone, and say "why in the hell do I need to announce my geographical location to five hundred "friends", every time I go to a bar or hit the 7-11?". They'll grow up, put it down, and move on.

Re:Huh? (1)

brainscauseminds (1865962) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814462)

While reading your post, it suddenly came to me: "Why the heck am I reading all this!? I won't get much smarter reading slashdot posts and I have a lot of urgent things to do!" Thanks man, I'll continue finishing my schoolwork now! :) +1 Useful, If there was such an option.

If a (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813870)

If a tree lands on Facebook would anyone care?

Then again I won't use sites like that as i won't have control of my data. You are never really gone from facebook, it is all still there at best you can hide it somewhat. Even that though is difficult.

Or maybe I just don't have a large enough ego to be on there.

Re:If a (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813978)

I won't use sites like that as i won't have control of my data.

Like slashdot. User 659227

Re:If a (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814232)

And what can you tell about me other than my posting history? No pictures, websites, links, or journals. one listed friend.

You can google that ID and come up with similar story on a variety of forums. Some of them have an email address linked in, however that address is my honeypot for spam.

I used to have a website, but my ISP took down all custom made websites, and I haven't found / bothered to replace it.

So you have a name and number that leads maybe to my home city if your lucky. But that doesn't help much as my name isn't in any phone book either.

Re:If a (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814056)

And your account can be unilaterally removed because they don't like how you are using that. I know two people who have had their Facebook accounts removed. There are people uploading their photographs to Facebook and not keeping backups, without realising that Facebook can permanently remove their ability to access them on a whim.

Wishing won't make it so. (5, Insightful)

superdude72 (322167) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813876)

Except that when AOL was deluging the world with free installation CDs, it was clear that most of AOL's users would migrate to The Real Internet as soon as they got a clue. I don't see a successor to Facebook on the horizon just yet. Not that it can't happen.

He has a point in that in there are some unknown quantities in Facebook's revenue model. We don't know how valuable all the information they've collected on users will turn out to be in terms of actually increasing the effectiveness of advertising. We know that it is desireable to marketers at the moment, but marketing trends change.

Re:Wishing won't make it so. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34813922)

Perhaps the successor to Facebook is the REAL WORLD. The virtual novelty is wearing off. Real physical communication is just so much more satisfying. Who needs a bunch of virtual quasi friends anyhow?

Re:Wishing won't make it so. (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814330)

I'm not so sure. With so many taking up second amendment alternatives these days and the global climate changing to a new equilibrium point that doesn't favor life on the planet, the real world is getting too scary for most people and so they become busy either arming themselves against it or trying to pretend it were not so. Facebook may have staying power because it provides sort of a psychological bomb shelter of the kind provided by excretment to flies, as after all how could 30,000,000,000,000 be wrong, especially since hacking it can help you keep an eye on the personal data of the other 29,999,999,999,999,999 and know what they are really up to.

Re:Wishing won't make it so. (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814082)

Maybe Facebook sers will migrate to The Real Internet too? Facebook chat and picture hosting seem to be the two killer features that people (at least, people I talk to) seem to want. Facebook chat is just a non-federated Jabber server with a web interface. Google and others provide a federated Jabber server with a web interface for free.

Picture hosting is just a special-purpose web server; when Internet connections get slightly faster I can imagine this being a built-in feature in consumer routers. Don't upload your pictures to a remote server, just copy them to your own web server and send people links. A competent ISP could start offering this service now and run a transparent reverse proxy so anything people actually download is cached and doesn't use the last-mile upstream.

FB lost it's reputation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814160)

Here is what I've heard by talking to real people: Facebook is pimping out their data. People are increasingly putting up fake information and entering fake information into FB's forms in order to get their accounts - all that personal information. AND this requirement for cell phone numbers.

At a party, someone who was notorious for putting pictures she took on her FB page. As soon as she took her camera out, folks were declining to have their pictures taken and saying, "I don't want my picture on your FB page."

She put the camera away real quick.

FB's popularity is going to plateau and anyone who "invests" in their IPO will be seriously disappointed.

Marketing value of EU data: Zero. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814256)

The info FB has collected on EU citizens may be valuable to marketers, however they won't get their hands on it. Thus the value of it to FB's bottom line is very nearly zero.

Basically FB and similar huge online sites collecting personal info, like Amazon and eBay, would run afoul of EU's Data protection Directive: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Protection_Directive [wikipedia.org] if they start sharing their databases with third parties. FB has specifically been told by the EU that they, FB, will be blocked in most EU member states at the firewall level if they do this.

The background is that the data FB is likely to have, in many cases will include particularly sensitive information relating to gender, sexuality, political observation and more. This type of data are especially sensitive in the view of EU law and subject to extremely strict restrictions on how it can be used and shared. In particular some kind of click-through EULA absolutely isn't sufficient to consider the user to have given consent to sharing of data. Please see this page for more info: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/policies/privacy/index_en.htm [europa.eu]

Also check the last paragraph in the section marked 'Scope' if you wish to argue that FB isn't based in the EU. The short answer is that - as far as EU law is concerned - this doesn't matter. The service provider, FB in this case, will by definition need to use electronic equipment, IE. networking equipment, inside the EU to reach their users.

So now you know why the info collected by, say, eBay isn't already used for marketing purposes by third parties.

All this was made clear to FB in no uncertain terms not too long ago, and may be one reason why people try to cash in on FB. Once the market realizes the collected EU info is worthless, then things may change a bit on the valuation front...

Re:Wishing won't make it so. (1)

TroyM (956558) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814376)

For a long time people kept expecting AOL users to migrate to the real internet and they didn't. What killed AOL was broadband. Most AOL users saw no reason to switch from AOL to another dial up internet provider. But when the local cable company offered them easy setup and webpages that loaded in a fraction of the time that dial up took, that was reason to switch.

I agree there's no successor to FB yet. But I wouldn't invest in FB now, because eventually one will come along.

I absolutely agree (1)

Evets (629327) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813882)

The one thing facebook has going for it is media attention. Outside of that, they are a very easy market to attack.

Re:I absolutely agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814114)

The one thing facebook has going for it is media attention. Outside of that, they are a very easy market to attack.

And the only reason nobody is successfully doing this "very easy" thing is because they don't want those pesky billions of dollars?

He's right, it's a cycle (1)

Leon Buijs (545859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813890)

Facebook is the next bubble. There is just too much money investors are trying to put away. FB seems a good bet for them. There will be more FBs in the near future.

Boring (5, Interesting)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813894)

People are already getting bored of Facebook. It's just there and taken for granted now.

What has been lost with Facebook is the spirit of social networking. It's more a site where you add all your friends or people you have met in real life. Other sites allowed you to make new connections with people you didn't know.

I put this down to Facebook's ability to enter all your details, name, address, phone number and so on. It was pretty obvious once your profile allows you to add some very specific information that is valuable for ID theft that people would then lock down their profiles and no longer be networking outside of their group of friends.

Re:Boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814080)

Other sites allowed you to make new connections with people you didn't know.

What other sites? OkCupid? Linkedin?

It's hard to make connections with people you don't know if you don't have a declared and specific common interest (some hobby, something related to work, the wish to find a partner).

I'm far from an expert in social networking sites, but I think they're mostly designed to connect people who already know each other.

Can't wait (3, Insightful)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813898)

I think my retinas get a rash every time i see the word 'facebook'... But there's one flaw with this argument -- we haven't observed the Internet long enough to be able to make definite conclusions about how on-line companies evolve. The Internet 10 years ago was a very different place from the Internet today, and I'm not sure the AOL case generalizes to FB (unfortunately).

Re:Can't wait (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814102)

It's not so much companies as communication models. Initially, any new form of communication is dominated by incompatible proprietary systems. Then these give way to some form of standard and the market is either filled by government monopolies that interoperate at a national level or by smaller companies that interoperate at a smaller scale. We've seen this with postal systems, telephones, electronic mail, computer networks, and instant messaging. Social networking might be the one that breaks the trend, but it seems unlikely.

Re:Can't wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814282)

VoIP and video chat have been around for ever a decade, we still cannot cross communicate without crappy 3rd party tools that break every few weeks when one of the player changes something. It's about time we have a proper communications protocol like httpd for point to point comms that all people work towards, including Apple, Skype, MSN.

Man predicts obvious... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34813910)

Its happened before. it'll happen again..

First it was everyone had a useless page. Geoshitties ect..

Then everyone wanted to be IM connected all the time to everyone. AOL, icq, ect ect ect.

Then everyone wanted a blog.

Myspace/Facebook is back at the top. A useless page.
SMS might be the next stage...

I wonder what the new version of the blog will be...

Everything old is new again.. And again... And again..........

Re:Man predicts obvious... (2)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814048)

You could be right.
I never had a page, or used IM, or blogged and now I don't use MyBook.

Re:Man predicts obvious... (1)

medcalf (68293) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814170)

Yeah, and that dynamic plays out all over the place in tech. We keep reinventing things, giving them new names, and acting like we've changed the world. My favorite example: SOA. SOA is nothing more than port-based services all running on one port, and distinguishing themselves by publishing their identity over that same port (to specially crafted messages) rather than the port implying their identity, coupled with the idea of software reusability but without copying the code to whatever projects need it.

facebook owns eveyones real identity online (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34813938)

I'm not sure this guy properly understands that Facebook is not just a website that someone can make a better alternative to and everyone will ditch. Facebook knows who everyone actually is online and everyone has invested time into building their profiles on it. Thus people value their Facebook profiles and are much less likely to spam, say obscene things, troll and generally be a total idiot on the internet if it is tied to their Facebook profile. This one thing is priceless and subject to massive network effects making it very hard for a competitor to enter.MySpace fell due to being offline and not being an adequate website.

Re:facebook owns eveyones real identity online (3, Interesting)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813990)

What facebook are you one that people don't troll with their logged in identity? I've seen plenty of people being absolute jackasses in a variety of painful ways to anyone and everyone they could be, all while signed in under their own names. I've seen people use their facebook login to sign into other sites that allow it and continue to be jackasses in brand new places.

Having your name attached only shuts up the moderately sane.

Not quite (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814242)

Facebook knows who everyone actually is online and everyone has invested time into building their profiles on it.

Facebook knows who everyone who set up an account with them is. As much as you might not realize it, there are still people who have never set up facebook accounts. Facebook may know our friends but they don't know us, or how we relate to those people since we aren't on their website.

They will never have everyone.

people value their Facebook profiles and are much less likely to spam, say obscene things, troll and generally be a total idiot on the internet if it is tied to their Facebook profile

Plenty of foolish college undergraduates have already proven that statement false.

Re:facebook owns eveyones real identity online (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814332)

The biggest problem with social networking is that it exposes more about people than you ever needed to know. It's easy to get by day to day with a lot of people that you have a good standing with and maybe even socialize with and spend time with. A large part of that is because you aren't subjected to the views and beliefs and personal drama and endless random fucking thoughts of each and every person you come across every day. There is a very tight circle of people around you who you know the most about and as that circle widens, the amount of information you know about them narrows. It's that fog-of-distance that allows you to have perfectly decent interactions with the majority of people.

I have seen so many stupid or dramatic things come out of so many people's mouths on places like facebook that completely obliterated how I regarded them. People I never needed to know those things about and could have otherwise thought well of. I don't see that it's much different than having a nice dinner where you invite some friends -- a few close and some not so much -- and everyone has the common sense not to start up a big argument about religion or politics. You and I can get along just dandy, but maybe not so much when I wake up every single morning to see yet more "birther" conspiracy bullshit from you about the president clogging up my "friend news feed" or your endless passive-aggressive comments about your shitty relationships.

stupid (5, Insightful)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813962)

AOL died because it was impossible for them to transition from dialup to broadband. While they could easily serve the entire country with dialup, it was impossible for them to do the same with broadband because broadband access is controlled by an oligopoly of companies who knew it was in their interest to keep tight control.

AOL died when the open access rules died.

There is no parallel to facebook because there is no oligopoly who can keep facebook from upgrading their website.

Actually, that may turn out to be the dumbest thing I've ever written. The lack of net neutrality rules could kill facebook just like the lack of open access rules killed aol.

Even if that doesn't happen, I would not eagerly invest in facebook. Of course, I said the same thing about Google when they IPO'd, so what do I know?

Re:stupid (1)

Edsj (1972476) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814420)

But wasn't the reason of AOL merger with Time Warner to get a broadband infrastructure? AOL even with broadband avaliable failed to get advantage of it.

Give them credit too for their own failure.

Re:stupid (1)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814450)

Time Warner offers broadband, but they do not serve the entire country. Nor was Time Warner ever interested in serving the entire country. AOL was essentially a marketing company designed to market Internet access to the entire country. Without that, AOL was not going to survive.

Second life (5, Interesting)

pepax (748182) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813970)

Does anyone remember it? Even real companies were spending money to build their spaces there. How long ago was that? And now? Just tumbleweed...

Re:Second life (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814042)

From what I hear Second Life is still thriving except everyone's hanging out in the adult section which can only be reached by teleporting over to those areas so they can don their fursuits and three foot furry blue penises.

Re:Second life (2)

js_sebastian (946118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814386)

Does anyone remember it? Even real companies were spending money to build their spaces there. How long ago was that? And now? Just tumbleweed...

I remember it! sometimes I type "sl" into the firefox address bar and fail at using the awesome bar to get to slashdot, and end up at the second life website....

Social networking is not their business. (1)

arunce (1934350) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813972)

With all that data they're getting everyday, the real loss will be at who had it given. That data will be very useful for the next 50 years and if they go under radar they will have more freedom to work and sell it.

And how will this affect me? (3, Interesting)

brentc3114 (1047790) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813988)

I don't really see too much value in Facebook. Its nice to keep track of your relatives and friends but it becomes a pain to maintain. I laugh when I hear people at work who actually put effort into their Facebook page-especially since some of them got fired for for what they posted on it. I have my 15 year old daughter put some generic pictures of the family up there and occasionally I answer the friend request. I may be lazy or greedy but Facebook doesn't put money into my pocket so I don't put much effort into it. In fact I see it as a potential liability that can be used against me on the job, or give the general public too much information as to what I am doing. If I am going to post on a website it will be Slashdot or one of the hobby websites that I subscribe to. Now my 15 year old daughter lives for Facebook-this news might affect her. This may be a generational thing. If it is fading I don't see it with the younger set-yet. I wouldn't blame Zuckerberg for cashing out-isn't that what every computer geeks dream is?

The Next Steve Case? Try Kenneth Lay (4, Interesting)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814024)

Comparing Zuckerberg to Case is an insult to Case. AOL wasn't the best internet service - what with being a kind of walled garden - but it was built on providing internet services to novice customers. Zuckerberg on the other hand built a service based on selling profiling data to advertisers. Zuckerberg would be lucky to be compared to John Sculley (or if you want scumbags, try Kenneth Lay), let alone Steve Case.

Do they really care? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814044)

Seriously, do they care if they become the 'next to fade out'? They made their billions, and if their company fades away they can just do something else that is fun to them. No real skin off their nose, so to speak.

Not $50Bn but $quite a bit (1)

sgt101 (120604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814070)

Facebook has a very large number of active users, and it will have a very large number of active users for at least the next 3 years. The photo albums and friend networks are very good reasons why people will keep coming back, and I think it would take some fairly strong disincentives to get them to stop.

All of this means that they have a way of making money for at least the next 3 years, probably far longer. It won't be enough to justify their valuation, but it will be a lot.

I think that they are a far better bet that Google or Apple right now, but they are hugely overvalued. None of these companies will go bust or just disappear, but all three will find tougher times ahead for sure; and all three will be worth much less in 3 years than they are now. On the other hand if you had bought stock in them three years ago and keep it for another three years you will still be quids in (I know that you can't buy facebook stock)

It is a good company, and a great idea, but it's worth something like $10bn not $50bn and that's factoring for big growth in revenue and maintenance of the user base.

Shallow (5, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814072)

What an idiot. He just says "MySpace falls first, Facebook falls second" without even attempting an analysis into why MySpace fell to Facebook. It's not the definitive analysis, in fact it's off-the-cuff, but here's mine:

MySpace was infantile. It encouraged aliases, whereas Facebook encouraged valid names. MySpace also had GeoCities personalization. There's nothing wrong with infantile if that's what you want your market to be. Facebook appeals to people of all ages, and that is one of the main reasons it won.

Now that Facebook has its installed base of the whole world, it's not going anywhere.

For some reason, the author of this article has AOL on the mind. He mentions "AOL chat rooms" as being in the same spectrum as MySpace and Facebook. Never mind that AOL chat rooms, by being on AOL, limited the potential audience to those on dial-up. More interesting to me is why Facebook has replaced UseNet or even the blogs that supplanted UseNet. The reason is that Facebook is people-centric while UseNet and blog are topic-centric. There is a reason why we call it "social networking". It's different.

I see Facebook as being the Microsoft Word that beat out WordPerfect, WordStar, and a host of platform-specific predecessors to those. Once Microsoft reached the installed base of the whole world, the whole world wasn't about to switch, at least not for a few decades. There was an ultimate and lasting victor in that chain of previous market failures. In the analysis of trends of word processors, it was a case of "Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Results".

Re:Shallow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814284)

That sounds like a fallacy. Yes facebook is people centric, but clearly that has already started to change as Facebook tries to cash out. Unlike MS Word, people don't really need facebook. It's not like you're going to die if facebook goes away, or your 20 page paper won't get done in time. Since everything on the internet moves much faster than shrink wrapped software, Facebook will reach a peak and fall. That's just the law of the universe. The more interseting question is how big of a jackpot will zuckerberg walk away with?

now, why did I think of Stevie 'killcreek' Case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814132)

The image of Zuckerberg doing a playboy shoot, is disturbing in itself. On the other hand, the shoots of Killcreek never made it into playboy anyway.

Brainpower (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814146)

I really had to think to remember who Steve Case is.

But I guess that's the point of the story.

Net worth (2)

crachel (1970552) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814172)

Was Steve Case's net worth estimated at roughly 7 times AOL's all time cumulative profits? Cause thats the fantasy Facebook's CEO is currently enjoying.

facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34814304)

Facebook? They still exist?

Who? (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814368)

It should be a good indication that it took me as long to remember who Mark Z. was as it did to remember who Steve Case was.

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