When you consider that Facebook was launched in February 2004 and has grown to over 500 million members, it really is an incredible achievement. It is a feat of epic proportions and a tremendous success story which also reflects the growing popularity of social networking.
There are people whose career is now dependant of Facebook. There is an ongoing battle between independent application developers and development companies such as Zynga, around the world including web design London.
Zynga is a fantastic example of success with Facebook. After being in business for nearly three years the company has an annual revenue of over $100 million dollars and are responsible for some of the most popular applications on Facebook, specifically Farmville and Mafia Wars.
However, in the interest of fairness and objectivity, one could argue that Facebook is a bit like Marmite. You either love it or hate it. My fourteen year old niece for example will happily spend hour after hour on Facebook, whereas I will spend maybe five to ten minutes on it every day or two.
How many times have you been out with friends, maybe you had a few dozen too many drinks and made a complete fool of yourself, which would have been fine pre 2004 because even if your friends did have cameras and took pictures there was no website which could embarrass you in the same way Facebook can.
The influence of Facebook has also spread to businesses and careers. It is widely reported that employers will try and find your profile on Facebook, just to see if there is anything you perhaps forgot to mention. You have the ability share with the world absolutely everything that you like and dislike, your favourite music, food, movies and your political and religious affiliations.
For some the amount of information has gone too far. It is frequently said that knowledge is power, and if that is the case Facebook is all powerful because they have knowledge of over half a billion user. Some might ask what possible harm could come from all this knowledge?
Well a lot really. To begin with, companies will go to extreme lengths to gather data on customers and Facebook is a giant and rich database of customers. Since 2004 advertising has become increasingly significant for the company because it brings in revenue. With Facebook companies can set up highly targeted adverts, so one could argue that ad least users aren’t bombarded with random advertising. By localizing the site Facebook is sending out a strong message of willingness to improve their service which is encouraging.
There is also a much darker site to data which was demonstrated during World War 2. In Germany and elsewhere in Europe, as the Nazis grip spread to Poland, France, Holland and Belgium the census’ of the countries were used to hunt down Jews and other political enemies. Indeed this is a somewhat extreme example of the dark side of data but it did happen and does show how information can be used in the worst possible way.