Thursday 7 October 2010

Facebook Groups: their own Trojan Horse

When Facebook announced their Facebook Groups yesterday, I had a funny feeling. I was following Augie Ray who was doing an absolutely great job at live-tweeting the event, and there were a lot of words used. A lot. An awful lot, really.
What was the big news? Well, you are now allowed to download your own stuff, and there now are Groups on Facebook

Downloading is what you think it would be, and Groups also are what you would think it would be. Still, so much noise around these 2 small and slight improvements

One of Augie's tweets in particular made me worried:
"It's not a product or algorithm problem, or someone else would've solved it. It's a social problem, which is why we solved it." Mark at
Now I don't think very highly of the Social aspect of Facebook, given the events over the last months. Other than that, I don't see a problem at all there.

So, I tweeted twice at Augie, not to tick him off but to let him know what I thought of it, and I didn't think of it highly:
I made a remark about the download,
RT @ allows you to maintain a copy of your Facebook data on your PC. < how noble... ?!
and one about the Groups:
RT @ As you cross 250 people in group chat will get turned off < great mass-marketing instrument, bringing broadcast to FB

I'll admit I was very underwhelmed indeed, but also worried: what is the use of a Group when chat is turned off automatically when it crosses a certain size? 250 people is nothing! I immediately got visions of masses of people being targeted with advertisements without being able to protest - a marketeers' wet dream: a 1.0 situation in a 2.0 world!

Today, Jason Calacanis found out the same and wrote a blog post about it - although I'm unsure whether he realises the mass-marketing bit

Is it a goof-up? A typical Facebook whoopsey-doopsey? I don't think so. Facebook people don't get out much, so all Mark Zuckerberg could do was break down the Privacy Walls around Facebook - well we all know how that ended. So, this is another attempt, not to expose Facebook users to the outside world, but to let in the Trojan Horse of the 1.0 world

People like Jason will get mass-invited to Groups, and slammed in the face with old-fashioned advertisements, or subtly lured into Groups and seduced with corporate spam. Either way, Facebook is open hunting grounds now for the "adverteers" and that's not going to change fast, I think

The majority of Facebook users will find it's rather useless to keep fighting "being invited", and will just end up in every Group they get pushed into

Facebook finally found a way to monetise. Not a very elegant one though, I think - or am I being too harsh here, and seeing ghosts?

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