back to article Microsoft-Facebook: Welcome to the Hotel California

Silicon Valley's onanistic elements have been in vinegar-stroke mode for an age over the tussle between Google and Microsoft to invest in $15bn profit-lite social networking phenomenon Facebook. Facebook claims about 50 million users. By our reckoning, that rates them at $300 a piece. The webtastic jerkers wake up today on the …

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Joe
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The intro...

The introduction to this article has got to be one of the funniest and bizarre life/web analogies I've ever heard - brilliant!

I'm worried about my data cadaver turning into a zombie and coming after me, though...

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Gates Horns

I see where this is going and im scared

Check this out...I envision mass legions of AIM'less people connected through the great social engineering site facebook. With real time access to each other through MSN Messenger and NETMEETING. As it is right now Google and Myspace are Toying with their own instant messenger and this is the Beast's chance to crack the market wide open and take complete ownership. Just imagine 50 Billion users instantly able to track every movement of their "friends" all they need is a MS OS (as it comes loaded down with all of MS's apps) and HOTMAIL/MSN account and presto you are now in facebook reconnecting with a bunch of Porn bot's and people ready to show you how to make money doing nothing. Even if you opt out your Carcass is still out there for all of your "friends" to find....

</adding song Don't fear the reaper by B.O.C (Blue Oyster Cult)>

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Go

You know what you call a territory whose population is made of of cadavers?

A graveyard.

Myspace, facebook, et al, are dying. Not because of corporate involvement, not because of adverts, but because of the basic principle of signal to noise.

To wit: The model which social networking sites rely on to sell advertisements is the principle that the users will generate enough content to entertain themselves, as well as draw in new users. However, the people who generate most of the (and I'm being kind) 'content' on these sites are, well, losers and phonies. People who don't have a bunch of friends, anyway.

At this point, the signal to noise imbalance is becoming exponentially greater: If you put a million monkeys on a million typewriters, maybe one of them will have something to say, but are you going to sift through the other 999,999 manuscripts to find it?

Among my own social circles, there were (usually nonintellectual, even 'dumb') a number of adopters of these particular technologies. It was a fad. It's going away faster and faster. For academic purposes, do a myspace search for your own region and age group. See the "last logged in" dates? Most of them show less than one or two logins per month, which is way, way down compared to the height of the fad last year.

I'll compare the illusion of the popularity of social networking sites to an already invalidated corporate technology: Groupware. What MS-Exchange has done for office productivity, MySpace would like to do to our private lives. Where both technologies veer madly off the rails, though, is that they attempt to force human communication into a quantifiable database structure. Databases are great for finance and inventory, but are terrible things for communication. Just think of using shared calendars in Exchange, those of you in the audience unlucky enough to have that bit of sadism forced upon you.

Bold prediction: Within six months, the user demographics of Facebook, Myspace, and their derivative buddies will be comprised of the following---

40% -- Porno spam bots, inviting anyone who's ticked the "male" checkbox to check out their naughty webcams.

45% -- "Free gift card" spam bots, inviting all the users to please install the new version of the storm worm.

4% -- Teenagers trying to get laid

1% -- Users who might actually buy something from a banner ad.

Good luck to them, the morons!

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Coat

Already bored

As a facebook account holder I must say this rings true for me. I've had my account for 4 months and I'm bored. I don't want every app to have my email address thanks. And all those people I lost track of, there's a reason I lost track of them... The last think I need is all those drunken shags from 20 years ago being able to find me. <shudder>

I'm gettin me coat.

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Anonymous Coward

Did you get clearance for those lyrics...

... from El Reg's tame music-biz lawyer?

Nice article, though it could have done with also mentioning the BBC's unnecessary and inappropriate coverage of (and use of) Facebook, in addition to t'Torygraph and the Dirty Digger's Organ.

I reckon the majority of the social networking franchises will be the next big bubble, far bigger than the bubble that was 3G. As AC 19:09 said, it'll just be another marketing opportunity for the spam farmers. There's a slight chance that more focused "social networkers" like Linked in might survive, but they're not offering quite the same get rich quick opportunity yet.

Anyway, I've got this wonderful work from home career opportunity I need to tell you about.

+++NO CAREER

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Happy

yet another fad

I missed due to confusion and indifference . Go! Me. I still don't understand what it's for but now it's owned by people who's claim to fame is making software that can bring a quad core dual processor machine with 8G of memory and 15000 rpm scsi disks to a death crawl when copying a 2M file to another directory and can't make said machine emulate an old smith-corona convincingly, so yes I assume it's well and truly dead so long myface I hardly knew ye (really).

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Relevance

Facebook is as necessary to human life as space shuttles are to giant squid.

Frankly, the purpose of "scoial networking" sites has been obvious to me since ICQ was new. Anyone who is so thick that they don't know that "Web 2.0" is about selling *you* as a product to advertisers... Well, they shouldn't be allowed out of the Home without adult supervision.

So, to sumamrize: MS buys Facebook; who f-ing cares?

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Happy

well

you can leave - get your account deleted. Post up some guro or some prons, spam people with hate mail, talk about white supremacy, generally have a laugh. Some one will report you eventually.

Or in my case just don't use your real name, they delete you for that. It wasn't even offensive. They banned me, I lolled.

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GIGO

Hmmmm, I've got a facebook, Ts & Cs are pretty harsh, you effectively grant them an eternal, non-revokable license to do whatever they like with anything you host there - but if you just give them just basic info an fill the rest with junk *shrugs* - garbage in, garbage out - personally I reckon anyone who buys it will be getting an original Chris Ofili, it's ok to look at, probably worth a bit for a while, but it doesn't matter how you dress it up, elephant dung is still shit.

What's it good for? Well my local pub has a group, saves a few text messages when organising a pissup - but then I've only got 5 friends on facebook, and they're all people I know in the real world (oddly enough I'm not bothered about making new "virtual" friends). Oh, and I like the app from iLike - bulked out my wish-lists on some new tunes which I may not have found otherwise - I have fairly obscure musical tastes, Funker Vogt anyone?

Longevity - well, I only signed up a week ago, I'll give it a few months.

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1.6% = ownership????

They bought 1.6% of the shares. That's not even a blip. Yet suddenly Microsoft is "in control"? What's to stop Google from buying, say, 5% of the shares and outvoting Microsoft? Or is that 1.6% not really 1.6%, but actually 51% of the voting shares, which comprise 3% of total shares?

Because as it stands, all these news stories about Microsoft "taking over" Facebook don't seem to have any basis in the facts that we've been presented with.

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I'm only here for the adverts!

you are not your 'social network'

you are not your witty avatar

you are not your 'mash up'

I'm of the staunch opinion that all these myarsespacebook are simply preying on the idiot sholes of the interweb and as such are deserved of their current like reputations as bloated sharks.

Kill em all thats what I say! shopping lists for serial killers!!

...this coffee's a bit strong?!?

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Anonymous Coward

Regrets

How do you remove yourself from Facebook? I joined about 3 months ago because some people at work were on it. Must have needed my brain tested! I should have just writeen my name, email and personal details on a postcard and sent it to every direct marketing outfit int he world!

These social networking sites are like yesterday's sausages, being kept warm by a lazy media. "Wanna look cool and with-it, BBC Online Journalist? Here, have this press releasse about how social networking sites can cure all known diseases! And whlie you're about it, here's one about how, if it weren't for bloggers, the world would be a dark, depressing hell-hole."

Sorry, slightly unfocussed - I just hate these sites!

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"pumping adverts based on your age ..."

Concern about privacy of my actual personal data fair enough, and when it comes to the ID card fiasco and so on I'm as paranoid as the next Register-ite (Registrar?) - but why should I actually care about the difference between being served a random advert and being served a targeted (based on anonymised demographic/usage data) advert if I never take any notice of the things anyway?

And it's not as if the targeting appears to be particularly good, my profile clearly says I'm married and all I get is adverts for dating sites... err...

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Paris Hilton

Time to test S.14(4) DPA 1998?

In order for Facebook's processing of personal data to be lawful, one of the conditions of Schedule 2 to the Data Protection Act 1998 has to be valid. The only relevant one is para. 1 "The data subject has given his consent to the processing."

So, it all comes down to - is that consent irrevocable, once given? This needs testing, as I can't see the Information Commissioner agreeing to that: it flies in the face of common sense as far as data privacy is concerned. Yes, no-one should be stupid enough to sign up in the first place, but is a change of heart unreasonable, and should a commercial company be entitled to exploit the data forever as a consequence? The answers have to be "No", and "No".

But S.14(4) states:

If a court is satisfied on the application of a data subject—

(a) that he has suffered damage by reason of any contravention by a data controller of any of the requirements of this Act in respect of any personal data, in circumstances entitling him to compensation under section 13, and

(b) that there is a substantial risk of further contravention in respect of those data in such circumstances,

the court may order the rectification, blocking, erasure or destruction of any of those data.

So... time for a suitable case to go to the County Court (Sheriff Court in Scotland) to claim damages under S.13 and to seek an order for destruction of the data under S.14.

And from the point of view of jurisdiction (Facebook being in the States), as soon as they establish a defence that no UK user has any rights over their personal data on Facebook because no "safe harbour" provisions apply, then it will be unlawful for Facebook to collect ("process") personal data in the UK, and that would open the door to legal and financial sanctions against any third party so collecting data on its behalf - not very likely to encourage UK advertisers to but its ad space... no one like to be seen to do business with criminals...

PS - Paris Hilton was not harmed in the making of this rant...

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Anonymous Coward

'A great man'?

Kent Brockman a great man? I mean, I like the quote, but really....?

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@cadaverous coward

"Within six months, the user demographics of Facebook, Myspace, and their derivative buddies will be comprised of the following..."

This has pretty much already happened to Myspace. After the initial "excitement" of creating a profile and <s>stalking</s> tracking down and adding old friends, I have logged in about twice in the last 3 months. Maybe once or twice a week I get friend requests from "Brittany", "Lana" and "Jessica", all of whom are rather attractive females who would love to put more explicit pics on their pages, if only myspace would let them...

The only category you missed was the unsigned bands desperately trying to build a "fan base"; their "friend requests" get binned just as fast as the pr0n spam.

I haven't encountered any spam profiles on Facebook (perhaps I'm lucky), and it has been far more productive in terms of getting/keeping in touch with old friends (I've even created a group or two), but I'm logging in less and less as the noise from apps gets louder by the minute.

Opening the API should have been on a licence-only basis to companies that could afford to generate decent, stable and *useful* apps. Myspace drowned itself by letting anyone spray garish HTML and embedded audio all over their profile page. In a similar but slightly more sophisticated way, Facebook is now suffocating itself under the weight of thousands of amateur PHP developers.

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Happy

Deregging from facebook

How hard can it be. Instead of deregging, just login and mess up your profile with fake info. then throw out all your pals. You will never hear from them or facebook again.

Also Why worry? We are not talking about the Russian mafia here, just a bunch of hackers who got lucky and their icky marketing crews.

Have a great weekend

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Linkedin is so much better for me

The people I have trouble keeping up with are business acquaintances and linkedin is perfect for that. No BS, just who you know and where they are.

I trird Facbook and it's a waste of time for me. I don't want to spend my time responding to quizes and getting poked - online.

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Alert

It's worse than you think

I promised I'd leave Facebook and I did.

And I took your warning to heart about mail from Facebook, so I checked the box that said "don't send me any more e-mails". And guess what's waiting in my inbox a couple of hours later? A message, a note tag, and a super-poke!

And the link in the e-mail that claims it lets you "control which emails you receive from Facebook" requires that you login and reactivate your account.

The spamming sods deserve Microsoft.

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