Authentic Identity, the Savior of Friendster 3.0?

I never cared much for Facebook. I have an account, I have 100 friends (mostly my big Irish Catholic family), I post on it almost daily. But without passion. There’s no love for the Facebook.

My participation comes from a sense of obligation because I’m interested in social media and this blog is primarily about how social media changes (or should change, or, more likely, will change, whether they like it or not) the litigation equation for companies protecting intellectual property. When to sue? When to find a softer solution?

The days when it was safe to trust this decision to Legal are drawing to a close. Marketing and Public Relations need to be consulted as well.

But I don’t get what’s so special about Facebook. As far as I can tell, it’s Friendster 3.0, the flavor of the moment. It’s been done before, it will be done again. Will we get this excited about Friendster 4.0 when it comes out in a few years? Probably.

And some of what I see makes me think Facebook is already past its prime. If it is valued at 100 billion on IPO day the way some people think it might be, then I’d say the play of the year is shorting Facebook.

All of THAT notwithstanding, in Foundations of the Social Web (or, Fake Tales of Menlo Park), William Carlton of Counselor @ Law has an interesting take on one innovative thing about Facebook that he gleaned from an in-depth reading of the IPO prospectus: Facebook is ready to take advertising to the next level.

Among other of his discoveries, Carlton presents a fascinating juxtaposition regarding something called authentic identity (basically, “be who you are”).

To its users, Facebook says, “Representing yourself with your authentic identity online encourages you to behave with the same norms that foster trust and respect in your daily life offline.” Then, a little later, to its advertisers, Facebook says, “Because authentic identity is core to the user experience on Facebook and users generally share information that reflects their real interests and demographics, we are able to deliver ads that reach the intended audience with higher accuracy rates compared to online industry averages.”

Shorter Facebook to its users: Suckers!

In case you were wondering how serious Facebook is about its authentic identity program, Facebook Temporarily Denies Access to Users with Invalid Names

While I appreciate and, from an idealistic standpoint, share Mr. Carelton’s antagonistic take on advertising, I can’t argue with Stephen Green’s observation that “[w]hen a service is free, you are the thing being bought and sold.”

So there’s THAT to consider in your buying and selling decisions.


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