Strong opinions, weakly held

We should be afraid of Facebook

First, I started seeing more and more Web sites with Facebook like buttons on them. Then I saw Facebook widgets that showed my friends’ activity when I visited third party sites. Now, I’m seeing lots of blogs switch over their comments to use Facebook as a third party comments system. In the meantime, I’m seeing more and more people use Facebook to host images and video, and even Facebook as a URL shortener. Today, Nelson Minar commented on the fact that Facebook is taking over single sign on.

Here’s his warning:

The problem is that Facebook is creating a monopoly. That’s a huge risk to every other company on the Internet. It’s bad for users too, we’re losing the ability to use pseudonyms online. And while Facebook’s technical execution is excellent the company has demonstrated over and over again its willingness to act unethically towards their users. We don’t want them controlling user identity.

In my opinion, Facebook is more like the old, proprietary AOL that it is like the Web. When you put content on Facebook, it’s walled off from the rest of the Web, and yet I see more and more people and worse, organizations, as the repository for their photos and so forth. There’s no doubt that Facebook makes it easy to do that sort of thing, but I don’t think it’s too smart to turn your valuable work over to them to take care of. And if you publish a blog, I certainly don’t think it’s a good idea to turn your users over to Facebook to manage, either.

I just don’t trust those guys.


  1. Facebook has done a really good job of making people feel like it is “open” when nothing could be further from the truth.

  2. Every single time I see a company’s web presence as facebook.com/company I cringe.

  3. Is it any better to trust single sign-on to Google?

  4. They’re also busy vigorously denying that they just lost 6 million users in the US and over a million in Canada. I think Facebook will be cyclic, like those before them.


  5. Glad you agree with my concern. It’s important to distinguish, though: Facebook Connect doesn’t contribute to the walled garden problem, kind of the opposite really.

    I think it would be better to trust single sign-on to Google than Facebook. I’m biased, but I think Google has a better track record of acting ethically. Anyway, that’s a false dichotomy, there’s no need to trust any one company. Much of my blog post talks about OpenID which everyone hates on but solves the exact single sign on problem in an open way.

    (I should have comments on my blog :-P)

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