At least once a month someone asks me "Do you have an account in Facebook?". Generally, my answer is a simple "no, you can find me on LinkedIn or in ASW" without further explanation.
Some of my friends that know my interest in almost any online product though, couldn't believe I have not an account there and asked why. My explanation has been always the same: I just don't want to be part of a product that became big by basically betraying the users that made it an interesting product.
Now, believe me, I know my share about repositioning and changing strategies. Sometimes is something that simply can't be avoid. But this wasn't the case. Facebook didn't NEED to open themselves to everyone. They could have grown and become a very interesting product still being a network close to certain group. It is true though that by opening the network, they became bigger, faster, and they obviously decided to betray their user base for their own profit.
Again, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against free enterprise and profits. My thoughts were that considering they have betrayed their user base once, they may do it again. So I didn't have an account at first because I didn't have the 'credentials' needed to get in there when it was a closed network and I decided not to have one when they became an open product, because I felt I couldn't trust the product...
Not so long ago, they came up with their new advertising system and someone at LinkeIn asked:
"Facebook to Turn Users Into Endorsers. Is this a way to 'monetize' the value of friendships? Thoughts, reactions... "
My answer was (sic):
"My first thought (that of course can be totally wrong it wouldn't be the first time) :)) was "how many users may NOT like how this information will be used?" How many professionals in the top tier will stay there and allow to be used that way?
I know I wouldn't like it on a personal level, of course as an advertiser I love it!. But me, Sandra, the person/professional? Why would I be an endorser with their words? I am an endorser of products but but when I want to, with who I want and with my own words.
Again, as an advertiser, good for them and great for me. As an user..., don't count with me buddy!"
"This is a fantastic step forward and a giant leap for social network advertising. "
Now, after they step back from Beacon and publicly apologized for this try (that I also see as a major intent of betrayal to a bigger base of users) I have decided to be a bit mean and I will jut say "I told you so!".
PS: (You will still find me in LinkedIn and ASW..., I was also using Plaxo but I may close my account there since their new Pulse is driving me crazy..., but I will leave that for another article)
Want to read more about why you shouldn't trust Facebook? Read this article and this one.
And if you are interested in online social networks and advertising in them, you may also find this article interesting.