May 11, 2010

The Facebook Revolt

Everyone, it seems, now has a problem with Facebook, Laura McGann's kiss-off to the site being the latest example. Besides being a sieve when it comes to personal information (and a G-rated porn site to boot), Facebook's ubiquity has, ironically, taken the luster off its value as a social network. A while back, Matt Frost wrote that he gave up on Facebook because seeing the daily online activity of people he knew long ago ruined his appreciation for them. No one is a hero to his valet, and, it seems, no one is a fondly remembered long-lost pal to his Facebook friends.

I'm not ready to give up on Facebook just yet -- although my inability to fully delete information from my profile made me almost delete it out of frustration. (Fortunately, Facebook's strategic use of emotional blackmail kept me around.) I have some friends I keep up with on Facebook that aren't on Twitter -- which with Gmail is where I spend most of my online life -- and having even a placeholder Facebook account is something of a necessity for managing your online reputation. Perhaps just as important is the fact that Facebook is quickly becoming the de facto universal login key: Unlike OpenID, which was supposed to have fulfilled this function, a Facebook ID already has value to the user, and so it's easy to move from that to using it to log in to other websites. Of course, Twitter can also serve that function, but not nearly as many websites offer login through Twitter as they do through Facebook; hopefully, that will change.

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