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Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s broken law of social sharing

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 — by

Facebook logoLike most laws, there are exceptions and then there are instances where the law itself either gets broken, or is identified as being broken — Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s claim that social sharing will double each year is a law that’s broken…

Recently, at the Web 2.0 Summit, Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook had this to say on social sharing:

“I would expect that next year, people will share twice as much information as they share this year, and next year, they will be sharing twice as much as they did the year before … that means that people are using Facebook, and the applications and the ecosystem, more and more.”

Saying is one thing, but Zuckerberg needs to back that up with reasons why. There’s an upper limit to how much we can share about ourselves (and by extension others) before we get either too personal or too invasive.

Right now, people are already sharing vast amounts of information, be that information personal or professional. And there are only so many hours in the day for anyone to tap out an update into their Facebook status, or into a Twitter update, or anywhere else for that matter.

Even if we include geotagging services like BriteKite, we can only be in one place at any one time doing so many things. Do we start tagging ourselves in real time?

Starting up my “What if?” engine for a moment, I suppose we could see a time when we wear our video-enabled mobile devices, which record and log our every waking moment, but the question is: why? Of course, some would subscribe to such services in a heart beat, but most wouldn’t.

We’re already lamenting the passing of certain privileges, as successive governments introduce legislation that incrementally erodes our fundamental rights, so why would we walk head long into a potential privacy stage show willingly?

So I have to question why Mark is saying these things. Could it be a genuine prediction of his, or is this just wishful thinking, in an attempt to get us to prop up Facebook’s social graph to help bolster their weak advertising revenue?

Mark, I agree that we’re going to see more people sharing more things by next year, but this isn’t going to go on forever because there simply isn’t the need, the desire, the demand or the time…

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Comment and be known

Matt Ridout → Tuesday, 10 March 2009 @ 17:13 BDT

Hi Wayne,

Interested thought really. I went to a conference not too long ago where the general thought by the big names was that online society would return to almost a village status.

For example you know a group of people extremely well, you know nearly everything about them and their history. This does not mean obviously that all your friends online will have this relationship with you but some will. Maybe this is the angle?

Carl Crossman → Wednesday, 11 March 2009 @ 1:41 BDT

I think most people will only share so much about themselves. Sure, now and then we may decide to “let it all out” but for the most part we wear the masks we made.

Ed Richardson → Wednesday, 11 March 2009 @ 18:26 BDT

I think your right on all counts here Wayne.

There is only a finite amount of ourselves, I’m talking average joe here, that we are going/willing to share with the on-line community.

Obviously there will be exception to this rule and equally, certain communities where we might share more, for example I keep my Facebook account to friends only.

Where there maybe growth for Mark, to help ease his ad status, is in areas of the population that aren’t currently on-line. These exist within developed countries where sectors of the population simply haven’t yet embraced social networking (they may never, although I do expect to see the percentage growth in this to increase) and within less developed countries where they simply may not have the facilities readily available to do so.

But, as you previously stated, even these markets will reach a saturation point where there simply isn’t any more data that they wish to share with the on-line community.

I think Marks statement is aimed at his ad revenue generation market. He might have been better saying he sees an increase in shared information, but also a percentage increase in the population sharing information on-line.

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