I must admit, I’m a huge fan of today’s online social networking craze. I just think it’s great that people can connect, share information with each other, and learn about each others’ lives through social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook.
It just seems with their amazing success, these websites will be around forever. I mean, all the time spent signing on new friends, poking Uncle Eddie, and commenting on each other’s status would never be in vain, would it?
Recently I read two articles that made me wonder if in fact the great online social networking experiment will survive unscathed.
The first article I read was about the popular news rating website Digg.com. In a recent article on Sean SEO.com, blogger Sean Rasmussen writes an open letter to Digg and lists 10 reasons why he believes the social news rating website is destined for the grave.
Digg, Rasmussen believes, is burdened with irrational moderators, conflicts of interest, political jockeying, user intimidation, and poor site functionality. The irony? As of the writing of this article, Rasmussen’s anti-Digg blog received several hundred votes – on Digg.com.
The New Face of Facebook?
The second article I read was an eerie, big-brotherish shocker from the pokey, app-happy social website Facebook.
Recently, the blogosphere (including the unapologetically nerdy blog Slashdot) was lit up on news reports that Facebook had changed its terms of service (TOS) to say that even if the user’s account is permanently deleted, they can repurpose deleted content in any way, shape, or form they want, in perpetuity.
Due to a massive user revolt, Facebook promptly withdrew the changes to their TOS.
MySpace, Oh MySpace
MySpace is another story altogether. Back in the late 1990s, I got hooked on a rough and tumble western-themed PC game called Dust. One of the characters in the game referred to the late-1800’s fictitious wild west town as “full of thieves, flim-flammers, and lawyers.”
MySpace isn’t much different, really. Made famous in those NBC Dateline shows where police nab unwary pedophiles who arrange sexual encounters with young teens through the site, MySpace is chock full of scammers, identity thieves, celebrity impersonators, and those annoying “have sex with married women” ads. Give me a break!
It just seems to me that MySpace only cares when their website is the target of media scrutiny, e.g., the pedophile problem. Everything else – celebrity impersonators, spammers, criminals, phishers, and identity thieves – is pretty much brushed under the carpet.
Okay, so MySpace has rooted out 90,000 sex offenders in the last two years. That’s good, but recent reports have suggested the sex offenders flew the coop and set up shop on Facebook instead. Now Facebook has to deal with rooting out sex offenders in the same way. And then when Facebook cracks down, the sex offenders will go to Bebo. And on it goes…
Is online social networking doomed to failure? While it seems unlikely at present, public unrest against these sites along with ongoing safety, security, and identity problems may very well signal the death knell for online social networking as we know it.
Sean Rasmussen, “10 Reasons Why DIGG Is Digging Its Own Grave,” Sean SEO.com
CmdrTaco, “Facebook’s New Terms of Service,” Slashdot