Bird’s Eye: Google’s motto is “Do no evil”; Facebook’s is “Move fast and break things.” The excellent opening piece looks at the unprecedented amount of information Facebook has, and explores the kinds of power that gives them. I don’t think Facebook/ Zuckerberg is evil; I do think unconstrained power is problematic, at best. And we have two useful followups, particularly if you use Facebook. As Cory Doctorow often quotes, “If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.”
* What Facebook Knows Technology Review
If Facebook were a country, a conceit that founder Mark Zuckerberg has entertained in public, its 900 million members would make it the third largest in the world.
It would far outstrip any regime past or present in how intimately it records the lives of its citizens. Private conversations, family photos, and records of road trips, births, marriages, and deaths all stream into the company’s servers and lodge there. Facebook has collected the most extensive data set ever assembled on human social behavior. Some of your personal information is probably part of it.
…Marlow says his team wants to divine the rules of online social life to understand what’s going on inside Facebook, not to develop ways to manipulate it. But… unlike academic social scientists, Facebook’s employees have a short path from an idea to an experiment on hundreds of millions of people.
In April, influenced in part by conversations over dinner with his med-student girlfriend (now his wife), Zuckerberg decided that he should use social influence within Facebook to increase organ donor registrations. Users were given an opportunity to click a box on their Timeline pages to signal that they were registered donors, which triggered a notification to their friends. The new feature started a cascade of social pressure, and organ donor enrollment increased by a factor of 23 across 44 states.
Hey, here’s something really stupid and annoying: Facebook abruptly switched everyone’s default email address to the @facebook.com account you’ve never used. Here’s how to switch back Facebook’s obnoxious overreach right now. So people can actually, you know, contact you.
Remember long, long ago, when Facebook launched a Facebook email system and then nobody used it? That’s fine—it was always just an option you were more than welcome to completely ignore. And we did, because we already had Gmail and work inboxes, and didn’t need yet another. If our friends wanted to email us, they could just head to our profiles and have options.
Not today! If you go to your profile (or anyone else’s), you’ll see the @facebook.com email account listed—which just forwards to your Facebook messages inbox—and none of your others. They’ve all been hidden in a ham-handed attempt to make the Facebook inbox relevant.
* Five Hints on Our Facebook Future Technology Review
As Facebook heads for an expected $100 billion debut on the stock market two weeks from today, many users of the site may be wondering what this means for their experience of the social network. The 30-minute “retail road show” video made public by Facebook yesterday to tempt investors gives some clues. Here are five of them.
1. Your like button clicks make ads more valuable. If you “like” a business on Facebook, the company will sell ads to them that show up on your friends’ pages to say that you did so. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, says people are 50 percent more likely to recall an ad with that “social context.”
2. Facebook may start selling more than just purple cows. The social network has its own currency called Facebook credits, mostly used by companies like Zynga to sell virtual goods in games, that pulled in $500 million in revenue for Facebook last year. “In the future, we may seek to extend our payments into areas outside of games,” says CFO David Ebersman, “but with Facebook likely keeping a lower revenue share than 30 percent in areas where developers costs are higher.” Digital content such as movies and music would be a good fit with Facebook’s ability to let you see what friends are doing.