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September 07, 2007

Facebook: Open All Hours

Now I would have expected somebody to have beaten me to this by a long way, but it seems to have sneaked by WB unnoticed that Facebook is opening its doors to Google, and with it taking the last bastion of “privacy” from the site.

Facebook, of course, started out as a North American collegiate networking site, which then expanded to international students. It then opened it doors to the general public, but during all this kept the spiders out, so that what was in Facebook could only be tracked down by logged-in Facebook users.

But now Facebook is directly pitching itself against major rivals like MySpace and Bebo. The two target audiences are arguably significantly different – potentially there could be a continuous migration from Bebo to MySpace to Facebook with age, but as those who despair at the state of SPG of schoolchildren will know the “infiltration” of the MySpace userbase onto Facebook is changing the face of the site.

Of course, being able to be tracked down by Google raises several issues, although I can leave talking about “infringement of privacy” and “protection of personal data” and stuff like that to others.

I reckon Facebook has left a niche in the market behind, which it used to fill. By targeting collegiate students and not allowing anyone else in, it very powerfully segmented a userbase who had intent to procrastinate. But by going open in this way, could Facebook be leaving their niche behind for somebody else to fill? Another potential scenario is that “even more ‘grown up’” sites like Linked-In could benefit with a Facebook userbase dissatisfied with the opening out of the site.

But if it make Facebook Inc more money, then why should they worry about this?


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