How much bigger can Facebook be?

28 December 2009

Apparently there are around 350 million users of Facebook at the moment, and it seems likely that this figure will hit 500 million at some point during 2010. I haven’t been using Facebook recently. I’ve added pages that I read and so forth, but I have never used it intensively. To be honest, I could not and cannot see the point of embellishing my profile beyond the minimum.

To me, Facebook is a useful place to keep all the contact details, and exchange one-to-one (wall-to-wall) messsages, however I really haven’t used it as a communication or networking tool. Partly that’s because I’ve become much more withdrawn from communciating and networking, due to a number of different reasons, but also I find that Facebook is too restrictive. There isn’t much scope for customization or adding personal touches. I also don’t like the idea that I’m giving away personal information and connections to a company, which I wouldn’t do in other circumstances. This wealth of personal information is Facebook’s largest asset, and whatever privacy policy may say, I’m too much of a cynic, and I think the company will cash in at some point.

Anyway, if Facebooks becomes even larger, then I will probably dislike it more. I believe MySpace used to run an advertisement campaign that said Your mum’s on Facebook. Now, not only your mother, but a huge number of groups and companies are on Facebook. It’s no loger a place where friends and acquaintances meet, and sometimes form a group of like-minded people for shared goals. It is now used by groups and companies to further their agenda and profit. There are strategies to maximize exposure of the groups and companies. Facebook is becoming ever more commercialized and impersonal.

Internet’s main characteristic is its openness and accessibility to all. I think there’s something in human nature that yearns for the real, the personal and the familiar. Facebook managed to give that to its users earlier within the vast openness of the internet. It no longer does.