I’m still struggling with the issue of running two blogs; the blog you’re reading right now and the BIMA blog. Most of my posts are applicable to both audiences, but there’s an overlap in those audiences. Some of you read both blogs.
Do you read both blogs and if so, do you mind the duplication of stories covered on both? Are there specific topics you’d rather I covered, or didn’t cover on either of them? Any feedback you provide will be greatly appreciated. Until I received feedback, I’ll continue to post what I think is relevant, to both blogs. Thanks to Dennis Howlett for advice regarding this matter.
Now onto the article you came here for…
I must point out that I like Robert, a lot. I think what he does is brilliant and his contribution to industry is nothing short of fantastic. So, my post isnâ€™t directed at Robert, but the Facebook conversation thatâ€™s taking place in the social arena that is Twitter.
If you break the rules, you should expect to be treated like everyone else. Just because Robert has thousands of connections and is very well known to millions, it doesnâ€™t mean he should be treated any differently to anyone else. I have a friend who sent me a text message whilst I was on holiday as her account had been disabled. I just happen to know the VP of PR & Marketing and the VP of Sales so she thought I could exercise my connections in her favour. Her account was probably canned due to the number of event requests she sent out each week â€“ there was a lot, but people signed up to her notifications. I must add that they were very exclusive events too.
Everyone who considers themselves as a â€™social mediaâ€™ guru should know that Facebook is closed and that youâ€™re not permitted to use scripts to remove contacts. So, you should either join the club and abide by the rules, or leave. Right?
Well, yes and no. You shouldnâ€™t break the rules and not expect to be punished. But, we should try to persuade Facebook that being closed isnâ€™t good for industry as a whole. We should be able to retain ownership of our data. If youâ€™re still unsure about what Iâ€™m talking about, try to export your friendsâ€™ email addresses. Youâ€™ll notice that itâ€™s impossible because email addresses are made up of images. To comply with basic industry best practices, email addresses like everything else, should at least be text. To take this a step further, they should come in the form of a Microformat. Youâ€™d then be able to download email addresses automatically to a client such as Outlook.
Oh wait, making it easy for people to export hundreds, possibly thousands of email addressesâ€¦ wouldnâ€™t that make it easy for unscrupulous companies to harvest and then SPAM? You could argue that Facebook is helping to protect the vast majority whilst upsetting the minority. Personally, I think itâ€™s just a matter of time. Facebook only opened itâ€™s doors to non-universities a year ago. The business community has only started to flirt with it since the summer with London boasting the largest geographical network in the world.
What Facebook does well, is very small iterative changes to improve the user experience. Youâ€™ll notice that itâ€™s not inclined to make huge changes to the platform – thatâ€™s probably because theyâ€™ll upset a lot of people if they get it wrong. Given that itâ€™s still early days, getting major changes wrong is more likely. So, perhaps opening up email addresses is on the long â€˜to-doâ€™ list and will only be executed when theyâ€™ve figured out how to protect users from themselves.
I was one of the first employed by AOL in Europe in 1995, when it was a small startup, so I get the whole â€˜walled gardenâ€™ thing. I donâ€™t think itâ€™s healthy for industry in the long term. But it is a necessary evil at the beginning to ensure users have a positive user experience within an environment where they are protected.
However, there comes a point in time when you need to knock down the walls. Iâ€™m not sure when that time should be for Facebook but one thing is for sure, their decision is not going to be influenced by early adopters. Theyâ€™ll most likely listen to audiences which include influencers with a lot of connections, who would follow them to a competitor.
I believe itâ€™s a little harsh to automatically ban users from Facebook. This should be done manually after humans have first given a warning and second, made sure that theyâ€™re making the right decision. If AOL could do it more than 10 years ago with millions of users, Iâ€™m sure Facebook can today given the technology available to staff.