Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Facebook may be on to something here.

And I may be on to something, concerning Facebook.

Well, beyond “may be.” They’re zeroing in on what could be bigger than Facebook: Becoming the web’s validator.

That’s the scary Orwellian (Okay, truthfully, it’s probably Huxleian) nugget in’s story on Facebook’s new offering to its old media cousins: Let us host your comments.

Here’s the paragraph:

It also builds on what’s becoming Facebook’s most important function: being the identity provider and validator for the wider net. The system opens the door for what’s likely inevitable: having news sites rely on Facebook to identify its users and eventually to serve ads to its readers based on their individual Facebook pages.

The whole story is here.

What Facebook offers, as Wired points out, is an escape from the anonymity of most commenting systems in which the lowest common denominator tends to rule and which Godwinning comment threads seems to be the goal of just about every yellow-bellied troglodyte looking to stir the pot. Commenters might think twice if, instead of anonymity, their trolling comment on a news story led the righteous back to their Facebook pages. And it might spur those few weenies on the planet who haven’t yet become part of Facebook’s evil empire to give up the fight.

But for old media, it presents a problem: Sure, you might end up with more links on Facebook – you know, the place on the Internet where lots and lots and lots of people hang out – but that won’t necessarily drive eyeballs to your site and your advertisers. Just Facebook’s.

But it’s a temptation. Over the weekend at our Uncharted retreat for instance, we contemplated posting stuff to our Uncharted Facebook page while we struggle to get our own site working. Temporary measure, you know. Though perhaps a tease or two on Facebook would work just fine. And then another. And another. Until we’ve abandoned our website entirely and become just another minor subset of the whole Facebook hairball. Which might not be a bad thing, given that our advertising revenue has ranked near zero . . .

Wait. This could work. And save us money. Yeah, we lose a bit on the whole individuality thing, but maybe we’ve been looking at this from an old media standpoint: Old media: You are our customers and you will go where we tell you and read what we tell you where we tell you. And you know what, for the most part that isn’t working. Maybe taking our content to where the people are – Facebook, you see where I’m going – would open up opportunities to us. We can still make money through our nascent gear store, podcasts, workshops, et cetera. But is that worth subsuming our identity into the Facebook collective?

Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

Used under the fair use doctrine for commentary purposes. You stupid eediot.

Maybe we ought to beta test pressing that button.


carl g said...

So what is unfolding here, perhaps, is that soon everything I post on the internet must necessarily be tied to my Facebook account, giving one for-profit entity a wholly-owned record of all that activity. It "solves" an anonymity problem and creates a much more serious privacy problem. I'm pro-privacy and, therefore, anti-Facebook. My account is unused; I do not friend. In a world where job turnover is so high, employment so scarce, internet profiling so easy, yet internet ranting so uninhibited, I'm amazed that there is so little apparent concern for privacy issues. I personally do not want a prospective employer to be able to easily dial up for inspection anything I may say online. This takes us yet another step in that direction.

Mister Fweem said...

It's fascinating and scary at the same time. Clay Shirky, who is kind of an Internet guru, says we've gone past the point in history when the term "Personal life" has any meaning -- because everything's public, or as public as we make it, and "we," meaning the digital world, have everything public. Those who choose to remain private are part of a dwindling minority.

It's no secret that employers are googling prospective employees. When I got the job I have currently, the guy who hired me said he googled me. Back then, my web presence was miniscule. Not so miniscule today -- but I have, for the most part, kept my nose clean. You hear stories, though, of the digital natives -- those of the current generation -- who are shocked to discover their "personal lives" are big factors in hiring and firing decisions.