Can You Claim to Be in Social Media without Having a Facebook Account?
Tags: Facebook, Mitch Joel, Social Media, Social Networking, Social Software, Social Computing, Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Collaboration, Communities, Euan Semple, Quechup, Control, Privacy, Web Presence, Matt Moore, Engineers without Fears, Interactions, MySpace, Orkut, Ziki, Social Media Adoption
You bet! Let’s see… Over the course of the weekend Mitch Joel twittered the following question: "Can you claim to be in Social Media and not have a Facebook account?". Of course, that made me think about it for a bit, since it is not the first time that I am confronted with such a question when people keep asking me why I am not in Facebook just yet. And here is the thing.
Facebook is not the ultimate social networking application. In fact, it is not even a social network -*love* this blog post from Euan Semple on this very same topic; to start with "Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you", taken directly from its homepage and clearly not mentioning the terms social networking or social media at all, because, to me, it also breaks the number one rule from any true social computing application: you always in control of your own privacy. (Anyone reading up on the mess that quechup has provoked lately?)
Yes, that is right. Facebook does a pretty lousy job respecting the privacy and Web presence from the individual. And if you want to read a really good story about it and the kind of stress that it can provoke not respecting that privacy, check out the superb weblog post put together by Matt Moore on this very same topic: I want to stay hidden, where one of Matt’s comments is just spot on about my own sentiments regarding the adoption of Facebook:
"I think we all need to own our boundaries as much as we can. And respect the boundaries of others. I don’t have any issues with LinkedIn, Facebook, etc at the moment but I do want to control my interactions with others – I want to retain the right to say "no" or even to say nothing at all. And if that right gets taken away from me then I will leave" (Emphasis mine)
Thus, to the question put together by Mitch on whether you can claim to be in social media with or without having a Facebook account, the answer, to me, is very clear: Of course you can! Facebook is just another Web application that helps you aggregate content about the stuff you are interested in and that you may want to share with others. But that is it. Social Media has been running for years. And it is not going to stop there with Facebook. In fact, the latter has been running for years already in the past, but no-one made such claims before till 2007. Thus what happened then? Why did we all lived social media in the past, and why can’t we go on like that all of a sudden, just because Facebook is there?
To me, it is just pretty much like MySpace, Orkut, Ziki, or whatever other offering you would use to aggregate your content into a single Web space. Like many of those offerings, at the very beginning you decide whether you would want to stick around with it or not, and that would be it. Facebook just doesn’t cut for me. Not before, not now, not later.
But that does not mean that I am not interested in listening or reading about the kind of impact it’s having (After all, most of the folks I hang out on the Web do have their accounts in there already, so I get to learn a lot about it as time goes by). Just because I want to protect my privacy and my own Web presence does not mean that I cannot claim to be in Social Media. Because after all, how soon would it be before Facebook is taken over by the next big thing on the Web 2.0 space? (Pretty much like it happened with Orkut or MySpace or … <please insert name here>).