Facebook Lite and Other Things That Terrify Me

By Elisa Gabbert August 13, 2009 Comments: 0

Last week, Twitter optimization; This week, Facebook optimization?

It’s yet another “big week in search,” and not just because of SES. Seriously, lately every week feels like a big week in search, what with all these deals and acquisitions, revamped home pages, yet more announcements from Google of dubious significance.

The deal of the week is Facebook’s $50 million acquisition of FriendFeed. The purchase (which has stirred up some feelings of resentment and betrayal in loyal FriendFeed users) suggests that Facebook is trying to stay competitive with Twitter. Late Tuesday, the company sent out limited invitations for a “Facebook Lite” application, and I think this pretty much closes the case. Mashable broke the news and released a screenshot of what the stripped-down app will likely look like—very similar to Twitter.

(Some are saying that FB Lite is just a low-bandwidth version for developing countries and not intended to be a Twitter killer, an idea Jack Loftus swiftly squelches with an expertly Sharpied illustration.)

Facebook is also now searchable, a further signal that it’s positioning itself as a competitor to Google and Twitter. (I blogged about the merging of the search and social media spaces last week.) Is this (another) privacy violation? My guess is most Facebook users don’t think of their updates as archives to be searched by the masses in perpetuity (whereas Twitter is explicitly public—in fact I think it’s almost designed for voyeurs and exhibitionists).

ReadWriteWeb notes that Facebook has been pushing its users to be more public and less private for a while, and calls the move creepy. In the past they’ve asked if Facebook is a cult. Sort of feels that way—I’ve watched resistors be coerced to join before (Come on, we’re having all these great conversations about without you!) At the very least, it seems like it will make Facebook more spammy.

There’s been some other Facebook-related news, but, being a Facebook resistor myself (or perhaps a conscientious objector), the rest of it either bores me or makes me nauseous, so, moving along …

Social media is bigger than porn

I also want to again call your attention to the Socialnomics blog, where Erik Qualman runs off some crazy social media statistics (the post also ran on Search Engine Watch, leading one commenter, hilariously, to accuse Erik of plagiarizing himself), pointing to the conclusion that social media is bigger than you think. Some highlights:

  • By 2010 Gen Y will outnumber Baby Boomers….96% of them have joined a social network
  • Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web
  • 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media

There’s a big list, click over to read them all. Possibly the most shocking to me was that, because Generation Y (kidz theze dayz) consider email passé (totally lame), Boston College didn’t assign email addresses to the 2009 incoming class! What?! RIP email, already? A friend on Twitter asked how students are supposed to pester their teachers with stupid questions (that are probably answered on the syllabus). I mean, is that going to happen via Facebook now? Or will teachers give out their cell numbers so kids can text them? I’m baffled.




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