Facing the Music?

As Criticism of Facebook Grows,
Zuckerberg’s Nowhere to Be Seen

It’s ironic that the creator of a social network that ostensibly trades in the private lives of its clients is himself a highly private person. As hostility towards Facebook’s business model is on the rise, Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard dropout boy wonder who founded it and became an overnight billionaire, has been less than visible these days.
For some, it’s all about poetic justice. While Zuckerberg fights accusations of having secretly profited from Facebook’s failed IPO, while thousands lost money with it, a tech site’s offering cash in exchange for unguarded pictures of him. His company’s also fighting European regulators over how it stores personal data, and, in the U.S., scrutiny for luring children under 13 onto its social network.
For the record, Facebook’s definitely not the only one being accused of unauthorized use of its members’ most intimate details. Google, another giant of the Internet age, faces similar charges by the European Union. And pretty much every other site, community board, job exchange and even smartphone apps are, in one way or another, guilty of making a so far illegal buck out of its users.
Facebook, though, for being arguably the most popular, and for depending exclusively of customer-generated content to attract advertisers, seems to be setting the (low) business practice standards for the industry. How successful efforts by regulators, consumer advocates, public officials and even some politicians will be, curbing its privacy-busting ways, remains to be seen.
But anything that may help prevent it from becoming the nightmarish, big-brother-like corporation some say it already is, may also establish a new consumer-driven regulatory framework for all other companies, Continue reading

Saving Face?

To the Millions of You
Who Made This Possible

That’s Facebook’s heartfelt thank you note to its 800-plus million subscribers, included at the end of the documents it filed for its first public offering. To an increased number of people, though, such touching gratitude may not be enough.
That’s because of three main reasons: the amount of money a select group stands to make with the IPO; misgivings about what the site does with the data it collects from its ‘friends’; and growing awareness that such data shouldn’t be for sale.
When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the stock sale last week, it was the culmination of less than 10 years since he envisioned an extended social network that would enroll his Ivy League friends and make them very jealous.
His greatest achievement was to tap into a then incipient demand for self-expression channels, where friends and acquaintances could exchange even the most inane pieces of information, and turn that Continue reading

About Face

We Don’t Need Another Friend, but Don’t
Throw the Book at Social Networking Yet

Facebook’s discreet rollout of its Face-Recognition feature, which so incensed its users, shouldn’t have caught anyone without their shirts on, as it just reaffirms a pattern.
After all, this is the same company that just last fall was accused of sending users’ personal information to dozens of advertising and Internet monitoring companies. Then, as now, Facebook’s attitude was less than up-front about it.
The fact that overnight billionaire founder Mark Zuckerberg has a complicate public image doesn’t endear him either. A Continue reading