by Emily W. Sussman
Is “too free to be trustworthy” today’s web-wise version of the old adage “too good to be true”?
MediaShift’s Mark Glaser had a great cautionary post last week about the dangers of professional and/or personal overreliance on any one sharing-is-caring 2.0 platform, such as Facebook or Twitter. [I’ll refer to these types of sites here as ‘SN/UGC’ for Social Networking/User-Generated Content.]
In today’s unpredictable climate of spend-venture-capital-cash-now, find-revenue-later SN/UGCs, Glaser advises, it’s folly to put all your information eggs in one basket. Better to spread your (virtual) self across a number of platforms, so if “your” SN/UGC tanks or becomes a capricious master, you won’t feel like your (real) self is lost at sea, too.
The piece provides a good “I got burned” anecdote from a Facebook user who found herself socially stranded after her account was abruptly revoked by the site’s powers-that-be. And though she doesn’t bring it up, I presume other “deliquent” users might have an even bigger reason to worry: what a wounded Facebook admin plans to do with their information, post-banishment.
For a look at more proactive web users, Glaser interviews professional bloggers and developers who say they stay vigilant not to rely on SN/UGCs to host or promote their unique content.
“I believe in building your own community and keeping control of the content you work hard to create,” says video blogger Cali Lewis, explaining why she’s reluctant to stake her business on Facebook, despite its powerful social-viral capabilities.
“You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” adds tech blogger Chris Pirillo. “If [a given social networking site] changes one component or policy, you could be out of business… Never invest too much time and attention into one platform or another.”
What could fix this (apparently) broken trust?
Money might be a start. Lewis says she would be willing to pay a user fee for a SN/UGG like Twitter— presumably because along with it would come the assurance that her content and information would stay secure.
Makes sense. In real life, we pay for services because, well, they’re worth paying for. A transaction that involves money is the real-world assurance of accountability.
On SN/UGC stability:
Simon Hooper: “Facebook Turns Five… But Can It Survive?” CNN.com, pub. 2.4.09.
David Cohn: “What Is and Isn’t Important to Learn: Lessons from Friendster,” from DigiDave.org, pub. 2.3.09