It used to be that people needed products to survive.
Now products need people to survive.
Always remember that you are only Facebook’s users, not Facebook’s customers. The customers are the advertisers who pay Facebook’s bills and they do it to have access to your data in order to better manipulate you to buy their products.
And there is a problem with that. Sure, it makes sense to connect everything and make everything available (to the right person), but there is a lot of stuff going on that makes Facebook absolutely unsuitable for my purposes. And it isn’t always the obvious stuff (“all your data belongs to us”) or that I get ads that are so personalized that they are hard to refuse.
There are other problems as well. Take face recognition for example — beautiful idea, you upload a photo, Facebook tries to automatically identify the people on it and link it to their profiles — very useful in the general case. But what if the model used a Pseudonym (for more expressive photos) and Facebooks face recognition would link these expressive photos to her private account, which is likely linked to her friends and family and co-workers. Sure, why would you want to share expressive photos anyway? Probably because it is a(n important) part of my life, a part I would like to share with some friends — but not the whole world, and I would like to make the decision myself.
Sure, there are settings to prevent this situation, the main problem is that I cannot and do not trust Facebook. The way they use profile photos to advertise for their services (these people used feature x) — very bad vibe. And I am willing to bet that Facebook will implode. It’s another web-bubble, another dot-com-burst, and I find it confusing that few people see it. It might seem that it is hard to leave Facebook (“Hey man, all my life is on there.”), but it is not. Migration is not hard, especially when winter comes for Facebook and something new comes along — and suddenly “In every wood in every spring — There is a different green.” (Bilbo’s song from “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien).
Simply put, the problem is that Facebook is not on my side. Which is fair, like said by the interesting young woman, it is not my social network site, I do not pay for it (nope, did not buy any stocks, but my condolences to those who did). Google+ is no alternative — it has the same basic problem. Currently, there are a few specialized communities that are more on the user’s (if not customer’s) side, like LinkedIn, deviantART, Xing, OK Cupid, PhinisheD, etc. pp., but the big overall site is missing. And as fun mashups might be, there does not seem to be one which easily integrates these different specialized sites. Update: Dang — that is not the worst idea to solve it this way. Integrate different specialized sites, use the tight communities but make it more transparent — users, interests, etc.
But frankly, I would be willing to pay for a good social network site (in user fees, not stocks) — for a social network site that has my interests in mind — and helps me connect with other like-minded individuals (and quality usually trumps quantity).
So, I wonder — is there anything out there that is not specialized yet allows me to be a customer or at least is on my side?