I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars... and you. What else you need to know?
~Johnny Depp playing John Dillinger in the movie Public Enemies
I love that quote from the movie Public Enemies . Everything you want to know about a guy in one sentence. If you think about it, Facebook knows everything about you too. It doesn't ask you for a succinct, pithy summary like Dillinger gave his would-be girl friend, but it collects that information just the same in bits and pieces, and it sells it to marketers who want to know everything about you.
Facebook has been getting a lot of press lately. Some like Michael Arrington at TechCrunch believe we have entered " The Age of Facebook " and all other technology companies should be afraid, very afraid. Others are very unhappy with Facebook for its various privacy issues including the automatic opt-in in its recent "instant personalisation feature" that shares your activities on Facebook as you move around the web.
Just today, TechCrunch reported about a bug that left private chats exposed to friends. I realize it's a bug and these things happen, but you have to place this in context of everything else that's happened recently with Facebook. I get the idea that maybe people are getting a bit fed up with Facebook, but to paraphrase a quote from another movie, An Officer and a Gentleman , 'They got no where else to go!'
This general disaffection I've been sensing with Facebook seems to grow each week. Danny Sullivan wrote an interesting post on Daggle.com called Dear Facebook & Google: We Are Not Your Pawns. Enough with the Auto Opt-in . His point was clear. He was fed up with having popular services decide which features he was going to use without his permission. It got me wondering just how loyal people are to Facebook. Most people I talk to are there because their friends are there. I don't think many Facebook users are particularly fond of the service itself. It's just a means to an end.
If there were a credible Facebook Alternative, would you be inclined to switch?
I offered four choices for responses:
Hell ya, in a heartbeat.
No way, I like Facebook the way it is.
Only if I could import my Facebook friends.
Only if my friends switched too.
You can read my initial results here , but the overwhelming choice with 182 responses or 63 percent of the vote, was the first one: Hell ya. Only 10 people or 3 percent chose the second answer: No way.
Barely Scratching the Surface
Now before you start leaving nasty comments, let me be the first to admit that this isn't scientific and it represents literally a drop in the bucket of Facebook users. Facebook's own statistics page claims more than 400 million users. I got 287 responses. I get it. But a whopping 63 percent of those who responded said given an alternative, they would gladly switch.
Perhaps it says more about the people who answered my question than it does about Facebook popularity, but if this is even a tiny inkling of how users feel about Facebook, I don't think other technology companies have much to fear about Facebook, but Facebook sure does.
Photo by daveynin on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.