Do you remember hearing a while back about Facebook shutting down? Yeah, it was apparently supposed to happen today or something. And it’s totally plausible. Because internet companies that have over 600 million users typically shut down virtually overnight.
The rumor was first reported by The World Weekly News which is, as you know, the second most reliable news organizations after yours truly here at Autistic Disdain. Then it was picked up by another news outlet that apparently has some kind of reputation for actual news reporting (this claim has not been verified at the time of publishing).
The rumor goes that someone heard Zuck say he hates his life or something, and he’s gonna shut Facebook down to de-stress. Maybe go to a spa or something. Travel around for a year, maybe. Experience life while he’s still young, get back to the whole “worldwide revolutionization of web-based social interaction” once he gets back from backpacking his way through Canada.
When WWN pressed their source for info on why Zuckerberg couldn’t just give control of his company to someone else, they replied, “Come on. Do you know anyone who understands social interaction as well as Mark Zuckerberg? Of course not. No one else can possibly understand how people interact with each other using the internet. We’re lost without him. The internet is lost without him.”
The rumors turned out to be entirely false, though further investigation did reveal that, in the event of an inexplicable CEO breakdown, Facebook does at least have a contingency plan to offload the more important duties of Facebook like Farmville, poking, and accidentally revealing drunken photos of yourself to your boss to third-parties.
In case you were counting, in the U.S. market, there are currently more Android handsets in users hands than iPhones. What can that tell us about the U.S. population? According to Frank Meehan, CEO of INQ, an Android handset manufacturer, we can determine that there’s more geeks than pretty people in the U.S. Because only geeks use Android. And none of them are pretty. And also none go to clubs:
“If you go to a nightclub in any city in the world, the pretty girl has an iPhone or a BlackBerry. She doesn’t have an Android phone. She has no emotional attachment to an Android phone. It’s too complicated. It’s a geek device, it’s all wrong.”
So, remember girls. If you want to be pretty and not a geek, get the plastic black phone with a huge clunky keyboard. confusing symbols, and a low-res, grainy touchscreen, instead of the shiny black device with a smooth touchscreen keyboard on a large, crystal clear screen. Unless that shiny black device with a smooth touchscreen keyboard on a large, crystal clear screen looks positively delicious. In that case, by all means, continue.
Frankly, Mr. Meehan’s image of the smartphone market seems less influenced by any actual consumer impression and more fueled by reruns of The Jersey Shore. either way, it’s good to know that the creator of such landmark, classy devices as the Facebook phone is well-versed in picking up hot chicks in the nightclub scene. That’s where CEOs of tech industries hang out, right? Well, at least, that’s the impression I got after watching The Social Network. And hey, when has Justin Timberlake ever portrayed a character that wasn’t entirely realistic?
Most major rumors tend to have a broad spectrum of plausibility. Before the Nexus One came out, for example, one rumor said it would cost as much as $1,000. Another rumor said Google was going to buy Microsoft and force Steve Ballmer to personally build every single handset by hand and then give the devices away for free. Part of that last sentence is actually true. And typically the truth of the rumors fall somewhere in the middle. The same principle is true of the mythical Facebook phone.
Some rumors said Facebook was going to be building an entire operating system all on their own. This is likely largely due to Facebook’s extensive experience in writing low-level hardware control software that one typically encounters while designing a website. Ah, who doesn’t remember writing their first WiFi controller in Web Design 101. Of course other rumors, started by highly questionable sources stated that there would be no Facebook phone at all.
As usual, the rumors of the Facebook phone fell somewhere between “We’re not building anything” and “We’re building everything.” And TechCrunch got to watch some guy fiddle with it. You know what it’s got? Widgets! You know…like on your Android app! Or integrated Facebook contacts! Like in Android!
“Well, that’s all well and good for folks who are on Android, OC, but maybe this is targeted to people who want that kind of Facebook experience, but don’t want an Android phone? Maybe this phone is for them? Did you think about that?”
A valid question! And yes I did! Answer: tough cookies! This is an Android phone! This is merely a Facebook skin, much like HTC’s Sense or Motorola’s Motoblur. Actually. No. Wait. It’s exactly like Motorola’s Motoblur.
I think my favorite part of this walkthrough is when the guy shows off Facebook chat (and I quote): “which you might not have had before.” Facebook chat, of course, being a part of the standard Facebook app on Android. Though, admittedly, I can’t speak for our overseas friends, whom this Facebook phone will be targeting first. Maybe they just don’t have Facebook chat in Europe, who knows?
I do not know who David Dalka is. But he is a man who is mighty peeved at Facebook, and indeed, the internet at large, for moving around pixels! In general, I find TechCrunch to have the second-most inflammatory, inane, hogwash writing, worthy of the unsavory glare of my autistic disdain. This piece, on internet updates, is simply unprecedented in the gloriousness of it’s crap. A thorough review, if you please:
The piece begins with a reminder that not so long ago, the internet was outraged-furious I daresay!-when Facebook introduced a slightly smaller default font-size. I remember where I was that day. The day the internet turned red with anger, and the wrath of the internet community was felt such that it had not been felt since 4chan committed its first DDoS. The death toll was in the hundreds of thousands.
But what our dear friend Mr. Dalka has courageously pointed out is that this font size change was not merely made to instill bloodlust in every living soul to ever walk the earth. No, the objective is something much more sinister and evil: ads.
Yes. Ads. You know them, right? They’re those things that allow the internet to run for free? And, while yes, some sites are rather intrusive with them (the Yahoo! home page, anything from a major cable network, Gizmodo), most major sites prefer to have at least a little class with them. Until recently, Facebook was one of those classy individuals that opted for small, text-based ads with a small image, practically a thumbnail, above them.
Here’s the insidious part of the plan: Facebook used a smaller font size to get users used to a small middle column so they could place small, text-based ads with a small image, practically a thumbnail next to them!
That’s right, dear readers. Facebook’s ads have now gotten slightly wider, and slightly shorter! If you are not already heading towards your gun cabinet, you may turn in your Internet Citizen card this moment. Mr. Dalka sums up the situation far better than I ever could have:
Do they actually disrespect your personal space that much? Is this how little (pun totally intended) Facebook thinks of you, their userbase? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be yes.
Now, while many of you may be ready to leave a nasty, profanity-filled comment on Mr. Dalka’s article solely for that pun (and you’d be well within your rights), I want you to look past it and see his larger point:
This conversation is about much, much more than Facebook….Only you have the power to end this cycle of abuse by social networks and it is time for the web community to stand up and shout that they are sick and tired of constant terms of service changes, privacy changes, steps backward in usability that degrade our mutual experience, comfort level with the sites we use and our enjoyment of the web.
This is the core of his argument. As you are well aware, it is in the Internet Citizen’s bill of rights to constantly enjoy every single site you ever use. It is also expected that every site be made perfect before release. Features may not be added, nor accommodated for. And perhaps most importantly, your personal preferences should always dictate the design of a site viewed by 500 million users. You can see a prime example of this last right demonstrated by Dalka here:
Amazingly, the new ad sizes have been mentioned favorably in certain circles.
Do you see what he did there? There is someone on the internet who sees how adding a couple more, mildly intrusive ads, while still managing to maintain almost exactly the same user experience, can be a good thing both for users and for Facebook. Facebook, in case you forgot, is that company that’s providing an always-on service to 500 million active users completely free of charge. However, none of that matters. Mr. Dalka has invoked the IC’s Bill of Rights to establish that none other than his own opinion is right. Not much more we can do from here.
The pinnacle of this righteous fight came here:
The same is true of social networking sites. This is typically not seen as a problem by individuals. It also goes unnoticed by most traditional brand marketers as they are used to expiring, non-measurable media in the pre-Internet era of marketing and often not held accountable by senior management. Once fully understood by senior business executives, the microeconomics of marketing channels has emerging implications for enterprise business strategy, marketing budget resource allocation and eventual redefinition of the skill sets required to lead businesses into the future successfully.
…….I need to be honest. I-…I have no idea what the hell any of that means. Frankly, I don’t have the mind for translating corporate bullshit into lay speak. But it seems that the jist of what he’s saying is that startup internet companies need to be required to have a clear idea of how they’re going to make money before folks invest in them. So that….folks like Dalka don’t have to ever have changes on their websites? Hell if I know. You know how in the new Indiana Jones movie, there’s that one crazy old guy and while, yeah, he’s probably brilliant, no one really understands anything he’s saying? No? You didn’t watch the fourth Indy? Ah, well. You’re not missing much.
In any case, Mr. Dalka? You’re a moron. Sites change. For that matter, so do mobile apps, desktop apps, heck, pretty much any piece of software changes. You learn, you adapt. You grow with the tech. That’s the way it’s worked since the first PC, that’s the way it’s going to continue to work. And no. Startups can’t know exactly what they’re doing before they decide how to monetize things. The internet is growing and changing at such a rapid pace, even the “visionaries” who are paving the way have no idea what they’re doing. And that’s how tech works.
In the immortal words of Jessi Eisenberg: “We don’t know what it can be, we don’t know what it will be. We know that it is cool.” Such is the way of the internet.
Get used to it.
I went out on a limb and said Mark Zuckerberg was actually not a total douche. Time Magazine has a slightly higher opinion of him. He was just named Time’s Person of the Year. His reward is to get the creepiest of all possible photoshoots.
Go put on the soundtrack to The Day The Earth Stood Still and tell me this photo of Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t make you pee your pants a little.
I admit it. I liked The Social Network. Like a lot. I’ve seen it a few times. I will own it. I never really liked Zuckerberg, though. Whether it’s calling early users who trust him “dumb fucks”, constant redesigns that include not just aesthetic modifications but forced changes in privacy policies, or just his face, his Michael Cera/Jessi Eisenberg love-child face (there’s a reason Eisenberg was cast in that role). Whatever it is, never liked the guy. I use Facebook, I see it as a necessary evil, I don’t hate it enough to ditch, but yeah. Never liked the guy.
Then he went and did something fantastically, wonderfully, admirably stupid like pledge to give the majority of his wealth to charity.
To quote a CEO I admire: “Dumb fuck.”
Bah. I want to not like the guy. I want to say he’s careless. I want to say he’s a douche. I want to say he’s a horrible human being. But at the end of the day, he’s an entrepreneur* who created a successful website that mildly inconveniences users with the possibility of embarrassment, or exposing some indiscretion, that is now going to be responsible for educating children, feeding the hungry, providing for the homeless and who knows what else over the course of his life.
To all the billionaires of the world who have managed to frustrate millions of users of your software and neutralize our hatred by being absurdly generous philanthropists: Thank you. And screw you. And thank you.
*- Note: This is the first time in my life I’ve managed to spell that word correctly on the first bloody try. Hate that word.
I went offline for two days, and you, gadget news world, went and threw a party, trashed my house, and left me to clean up the mess. Thanks.
First, Facebook decided to raid my inbox, taking all my best aged IMs and malt messages for a Wave-knockoff cocktail. It tastes like a worn-out Web 2.0 spritzer with just a dash of dogfood. Facebook then proceeded to spray it all over my drapes. I am pleased. as. punch. Which, I might add, you guys also spilled everywhere.
Then Google decided to rifle through my wallet, taking out the credit cards and such and adding them to Android Gingerbread as a new NFC filter. Google, you are the only guy I know who will come to a party to work on a project. You’re going to spend days on end in your basement ignoring a lovely wife someday.
Though, really, I could get past all of that if you guys didn’t invite a band. The Beatles? I mean, how did you guys get them to show?
Ah. New Deal with iTunes. I see. Still, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.
Get the groupies off my couch, wash the stink of gin and Facebook out of the car’s fur and please, don’t mess with the-
What, Google? You made a Google Voice app for the iPhone while I was ranting? Fan-freaking-tastic.
Next time, ask before you guys do anything while I’m gone.
So, you can import your Google contacts into Facebook if you’d like. However, if a few years down the road, you decide that you don’t want to use Facebook anymore (surely Diaspora will have hit critical mass by this point. Surely), you will be unable to export those contacts for use in some other service.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Oh no, they di’n’t! Boyeeee, Facebook best back up before they start sumthin! Dat’s sum seriously effed up stuff right dere!”
Well, it turns out, Google thinks just the same way you do, because they’ve been engaging in a digital smackdown that rivals that of the infamous clash of the titans between Palm and Apple over iTunes sync. First Google is all “Facebook, you can’t import contacts from us unless you open up.” So Facebook sneaks in the back door and imports Google’s contacts anyways.
Google, being the victim of unwanted intrusion does the only thing they can do: make a formal notification of Facebook as a Registered Data Offender. Now, if you try to import data to Facebook from Google, you’ll see the above warning. Also, Facebook has to notify their neighbors of their status as an RDO when they move into a new server. Oh yeah, and once you’re on that list, you’re on it forever. Awkwaaaaaard.