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Facebook – Food For Thought
March 18, 2012Posted by on
Well, I wanted to tweet out a question that I knew would spawn off a number of conversations that would far exceed 140 characters. So here goes:
Will Facebook ever be usurped, as was MySpace?
The typical answer is “of course!” All good things come to an end, and Facebook will inevitably fall to someone else given enough time. That’s the rationale most people I talk to about this have, anyway. I think it’s a little deeper, and more complex than that.
Most people look at Facebook in its current form. They see it as a website they have to visit (albeit, one they visit a LOT, presently). Even with the mobile shift Facebook has seen, people still look at loading up that app as “visiting Facebook.” Right now, Facebook is a destination for people. But what people aren’t thinking about is: “What happens when Facebook becomes the source?”
Just how far off is Facebook from becoming the universal authentication / online identity registry for the entire connected world?
What I mean is, consider the number of apps that currently connect with Facebook. Now consider the rate at which businesses are embracing Facebook. Couple that with the direction Facebook seems to be moving with the Graph and other platform infrastructure (Google it, I won’t waste everyone’s time here)…. Hell, some companies / applications / games with their own separate business models and corporate structures are 100% reliant on Facebook for their revenue.
Facebook makes it incredibly easy to give companies access to an alarmingly well defined, well analyzed install base of customers who use Facebook every single day. It’s almost taboo if your company doesn’t connect with Facebook these days… Are we really that far off from a shift whereby all companies exclusively connect their users via Facebook?
Personally, I hate having different authentication policies & profiles for practically any site I visit on the web. I have never had my Facebook (or any) personal account compromised (excepting security breaches outside of my control). So for me, if I could authenticate with every site on the Internet, through Facebook? I’d totally be down with that! As I’m sure many other people would be as well – especially if (pronounced: “when”) security and privacy innovations are bolstered to further lock down my life should that fateful account breach occur.
So I guess what I’m asking is, can you imagine a connected world – Internet, mobile, you name it – powered completely and utterly by Facebook? Is that possibility practical? Rather than trying to comprehend the magnitude of such a question (and invariably failing, so just defaulting to “No, that’s not possible” as your answer), try asking the reverse: “What’s to stop this from happening?” If Facebook makes it so easy for businesses and governments to access its constituents – what stands in their way?
“Well the user, of course!” The users stand in their way, and people wouldn’t tolerate this kind of change. I’ve heard this argument once today. Facebook talked about a stat a year or two ago, I can’t find it now and don’t want to waste time sourcing it, but it said that the majority of users who “quit” Facebook, return. The social pull from their friends is too overwhelming to resist. If that social pull is too overwhelming to resist, do you really think if all your favorite companies and brands began utilizing Facebook for authentication, you could resist it? If the only way you can order a pizza online is by signing in with Facebook, would you really stop ordering pizzas online?
So ultimately, this feeds back into my original question: Will Facebook ever be usurped? If they keep innovating at the pace which they are currently setup to maintain, such that at a product level consumers always remain happy — And if they continue to colonize world economies, governments, organizations, and industries as they have been — Is there any real way to stop Facebook?
And if this is indeed the direction Facebook is heading, will that be too much power and responsibility for one company, public or private, to handle?
I expect a lot of people at all levels of society – consumers, businesses, and especially politicians – are asking these very same questions. Regardless of Facebook’s publicly stated and planned direction, I expect to see a great deal of scrutiny from world governments, beyond your average “company Xyz going public” probing.
What are your thoughts? Please share them in the comments below . Oh and if you liked this post, please share it with the buttons up top! <3