David Carr in his piece entitled, “Hey Friend, Do I Know You?” laments that the real losers on Facebook are you and your real friends. His proclamation stems from his observation that Facebook is increasingly morphing into a platform for tapping into “friends of friends” for business purposes. He further comments that this gives rise to a new strategic decision-making process for posting things on Facebook for fear of revealing photos that could be too compromising, sharing stores that could be too candid, and posting comments that could be too controversial.
I could be missing something but I sort of regard Facebook as the friend’s cocktail party or backyard bbq on steroids. Except that instead of making new friends over cosmos and burgers you virtually “friend” people within your friends’ networks. Either way, you meet new people via the “social platform” created by your friends that sometimes leads to the opportunity to follow up with them in a professional context. Facebook just opens up a whole new community of people that would otherwise be impossible to find. And isn’t the best way to find a new friend thru a referral anyway?
Carr makes the point that Facebook is quickly becoming a mash-up of MySpace and LinkedIn – and he may be right. I suspect that Facebook will never evolve as a platform that caters purely to business users, but it can enable business relationships by giving you a chance to first meet people in a context that in some ways levels the playing field. We may all have different business goals, professions and ambitions, but we can all laugh at funny pictures of friends, come together in groups, and live vicariously thru the ruminations of other’s descriptions of the weekend. As Facebook’s exec Palihapitiya says, Facebook is a relevant social utility that becomes more powerful the more friends one makes. It could be the reason that the fastest growing segment of Facebook user is the 35-54 crowd.
Bottom line is, you can’t predict the topic of conversation at a bbq and you can’t control the viral nature of Facebook but what you can do is opt out at any time – excuse yourself to the restroom or manage your control settings on Facebook – either way your “friends” will only hear and see what you want them to.
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Filed Under: Social Networks, Internet