Wednesday 26 May 2010

The Fatal Flaw Of Facebook

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. - MacBeth

I don't understand why Facebook continues to use the old "ask for forgiveness and not for permission" approach to their privacy policies.

Mathew points to an article by Bruce Nussman that asks the question if Facebook has a cultural problem? Mathew says yes but that if they move quickly enough those mistakes don't have to be "fatal".

I'm not so sure. The issue is definitely cultural and it's one of core DNA. Zuckerberg has always been about closed and exclusive - it's been at the core of what made Facebook so successful in the first place. He has the attitude (that some call arrogant) that assumes Facebook is the boss and can do whatever it is they want without major repercussions. Can't you just hear 'em? I bet you pounds to peanuts that Mark said something like this:

"Oh come on guys. No one's going to leave FB because of this stuff except for a few zealots....besides if there is a big backlash, I'll just apologize like i did for Beacon. No harm to foul!"

But I think Mark (and Mathew) are wrong. There is harm, and as any good Shakespearean professor will tell you, that's the problem with fatal flaws - they are generally fatal. It's not one decision, but the accumulated path of a thousand smaller decisions. Just ask Rupurt Murdoch who believed that Myspace was his space. I think we can all agree now, he was wrong.

I've said it before in my "Zuckerberg Shrugged: Man vs. Ecosystem" post the network will go around obstructions. When the network IS your business model, not proactively soliciting feedback on major changes to your service, will eventually be your kiss of death.

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