In a world of expansion in media outlets, formats and hardware, will we ever go back to single (or even a few) points of connection? It seems like Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are doing what they can to make it so.
In Ben Sisario and Miguel Helft’s NY Times article, Facebook is Developing Ways To Share Media, it seems to be pointing to their strategy of making Facebook the end-all-be-all for social networking, media consumption and even transactional interactions. The article focuses on “in the know” comments at the time of Zuckerberg’s participation at eG8 that Facebook is looking to make it easier for users to post and share media – video, news, music, etc.
The article quotes Zuckerberg:
“Listening to music is something that people do with their friends. Music, TV, news, books — those types of things I think people just naturally do with their friends. I hope we can play a part in enabling those new companies to get built, and companies that are out there producing this great content to become more social.”
Zuckerberg and Facebook have already made huge inroads in online gaming, have stated the belief that they will change the very nature of email and have successfully introduced a new form of currency in Facebook Credits. They are obviously extremely intelligent, in a position of strength, know the social media world – and ready to take over the world all from the lovely confines of Facebook.
The question is, do we really want everything all the time in one place? Will I want to do my social networking at the same place that I watch TV or pay bills? This kind of interaction is already in play for those who use their computers for everything, but to think of it being the same for a site like Facebook is both exciting and tremendously concerning. When we developed FoxPop for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, we incorporated Facebook Connect into the service so that users could be connected in multiple ways all at once, but it was two-screen interaction and the amount of interaction was up to the user and the information collected was next to nothing – and certainly nothing close to violating privacy.
If Facebook were to become a media hub, the beauty would be that you could essentially and effectively consume that same media on your computer, mobile product, TV and who knows what else will come later. On its face, that’s pretty cool. But what would come with using one hub or solution for all media – especially from a company that has a track record of questionable concern for users’ privacy. If they were the outlet for all of your media, can you imagine what they would know about you and what they could then sell to advertisers? Don’t get me wrong, I understand and appreciate the pluses to this for advertisers AND consumers, but when could it be too much?
To me, the beauty of media today is that people are free to consume it in most any way they want. It is great that people can listen to music via CD, (MP3 or equivalent) or even vinyl if so inclined. They can, and should, be able to see a movie in a theatre, on Blu-ray/DVD, VOD or streaming on TVs, Mobile or other. To have that choice is great and only good for all of business. What really is at stake here is what happens to flexibility, quality, diversity and privacy if we were to all move to one place like Facebook as a hub for all of our media. I would certainly be happier if it were easier to control my privacy settings on Facebook – or even if they were to be more content-producer-friendly with their specs – but that doesn’t seem to be in the offerings for the near or distant future.
I’m definitely not a fearful person or a fear-mongerer in the least, but at what point is Facebook going too far?