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Has Facebook Reached the Tipping Point?

May 14th, 2011 · 3 Comments

The question on everyone’s mind is has Facebook finally reached the tipping point?  Will the latest PR gaff result in a mass exodus from the dominant social network?  Well perhaps I am over stating it, let me bring you up to speed:

This week Facebook with chagrin announced that they had hired the well known major PR firm Berson-Marsteller to initiate a smear campaign against Google using bloggers.  What could possibly go wrong?

Why didn’t B-M say no when Facebook asked them to do something unethical?  Money.  Facebook is the big client and you do what the big client asks you to do.

Why didn’t someone at Facebook say something like, “Hey, we don’t have the public’s trust in the area of privacy so maybe we shouldn’t be trying to make it an issue.”  I’ll put that one down to a lack of maturity.  It seems that Zuckerberg and team simply don’t have any adult supervision to tell them when to give it another think.

But the real question, the one that I started this blog post with is the one that should be on everyone’s mind: Is this the tipping point? Has the public finally grown so weary of Facebook’s snafu’s with our private parts that we’re going to go en-mass somewhere else? The answer to that question is no.  This latest gaff doesn’t effect any customers, it only further erodes the public image of Facebook.  It’s going to take a combination of two things for people to move away from Facebook happening simultaneously:

First Facebook will need to make another very public blunder which effects a large number of user’s feelings of personal security.  That blunder doesn’t need to be materially significant, but it needs to feel like a violation of privacy.

Second and simultaneously, a viable alternative to Facebook must be present  at the time that Facebook stumbles.  While there are many social networks, many of them with better features than Facebook, none is a real competitor.

In my opinion, when these two things happen at the same time, we’ll see a mass exodus from Facebook and not before.

Give me 1 good reason why you think we’ve reached the tipping point?

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kimmo Linkama // May 14, 2011 at 6:32 am

    While I admit that a mass exodus is possible, I don’t really think so. FB has reached such a critical mass that it will be hard to change that inertia.

    This is not meant as a defense of FB, I just think it is so deeply embedded in so many people’s online lives that they simply don’t want to go through the hassle of transferring all their friends, their businesses and their ingrained habits of interaction to another platform.

  • 2 Jonathan Trenn // May 14, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Kimmo is right. A second one is that the vast, vast majority of the 600,000,000 users are really aware of this. A small portion may have heard of this story, but most of them really won’t care. Unfortunately.

    Another point…I disagree that Facebook “asked” Burson Marstellar to do this specific thing. I’m betting that B-M came up with thei concept themselves as part of an overall strategy and FB said let’s roll. Or at the very least it was a collaborative idea. B-M is large enough to push back on even FB and say that this is a lousy idea. And unethical. They didn’t because they didn’t want to.

  • 3 Chris Kieff // May 15, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I think I’d disagree with Kimmo on the idea of critical mass. Or in other words “too big to fail”. The reason Facebook has shown such a meteoric rise is the low barrier to entry. Having 600MM friends on Facebook is useful, but not all friends are created equal. If the 10% of your friends who are most influential, most informative and most innovative- in other words the cool kids stopped going to Facebook and started going elsewhere- that would be a strong motivator. It’s what makes night clubs the hot spot in town. I’m not saying it would happen quickly, but I’m saying that it could happen.
    Chris

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