Is Facebook Evil?

18 May 2010|Leigh Marinner

A recent NYTimes article talked about the fact that as more people use Facebook, Google’s search results are becoming less comprehensive. ““The beauty of the Web is that it is open, and anyone can crawl it. But Facebook does not permit Google to reach most categories of information placed on the site.” The point of the article was to glorify the Open Web, as epitomized by Google, and as undermined by Facebook. “The statistics point to is a rise in Facebook, a decline in blogging, and before that, a decline in personal Web pages. The trend is clear — Facebook is displacing these other forms of online publication.”

But is Facebook evil? If people find it easier to write on Facebook than on a blog or a personal web page, then that shows consumers voting with their feet. You can’t blame Facebook. Just look at the current privacy flap about Facebook. What if they let Google crawl everything on the Facebook site?

It’s true that we all benefit from Google crawling the web and ranking the data by how often people link to it. While we all get information and recommendations from our friends, just because someone belongs to your social network, it doesn’t make them a good source.

So what is the solution if the web evolves into two buckets – open information and tons of information protected by privacy policies? Probably Facebook will have to develop robust search capabilities that will rank the data in some fashion while protecting user privacy. An example is the new “like” button. Facebook could share data on the number of likes without attaching specific user names. It’s unlikely Facebook will let Google in to crawl their data. Facebook and Google are rivals for being the base site that most users go to first.

prev next