Monday, May 28, 2007

Is Facebook decreasing the relevance of MySpace?

I received a new invitation to join Facebook today (it's been about 20 in the past month) and the site seems to keep growing. Many of my friends are on Facebook right now, and former colleagues and associates keep inviting me to join. For the longest time, I thought of MySpace as the dominant social software/social networking site. But apparently everyone is on Facebook right now. Even 24Hrs recently published a two-page spread on Facebook, issues of privacy, etc.

This is not my area of research [I will leave that to Fred Stutzman and danah boyd] so anything I write here is just my own thoughts. Two things come to mind right now.

The first issue is data privacy. I noticed that Facebook requires you to give up your e-mail password so that it can get into your email account and find other people who already have Facebook accounts. This is somewhat troublesome. I wonder if doing that basically gives pretty much anyone access to your e-mail records.

Moreover I certainly don't know if I want to have my friends see everything I do and the people I hang out with. Those are just issues that are too private for me.

The second thought is that of monitoring. I read somewhere that college officials and employers can monitor Facebook to check your employability or what you do at school... The question is ... how would they monitor Facebook without having an account there? And how would you know that a college official/employer/potential stalker has a Facebook account?

The last issue that one could raise is whether these social software sites are decreasing each other's relevance. I have been told that MySpace has 80 million or something accounts where Facebook is only in the 2 million or whatever (I have never checked the statistics). But it makes me wonder... what is next?

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