First, and most simply, none of the blunders they’ve made have directly affected me: none of the privacy violations invaded my personal privacy since I do my best not to have anything to hide, anyway. The closest thing to an invasive blunder Facebook has ever made to me, personally, was the inclusion of SuperPoke, Funwall, and that confounded Zombie application without including an “ignore forever and ever and ever” button.
I think during the initial wave of Facebook account deletions due to, Tara Hunt said something along the lines of “Facebook has made some lousy decisions, but they totally have me by the social graph”. Now, I’m paraphrasing (I wish I could find the original tweet, this was the closest I could find). But Tara’s and my shared sentiment about why we are still on Facebook is similar to why, for instance, I have an account on Pownce and Twitter but spend ALL of my time on Twitter: it’s where my peeps are at.
I can do the same thing and more elsewhere, but my stuff and more importantly, a great deal of my friends, are there.
Remember, I’m from a generation where I was on Facebook before it was open to non students. Remember, the majority of my friends outside of the social media/new media space are either recently graduated or still finishing school. Unlike most of the users of Facebook, who are more of a layer of very rich sod sitting just on top of the surface, I’ve got deep and twisty roots buried into photos, contacts, comments, connections, messages. And many of them are personal, not the casual “nice blog post” or “I think Scoble is a douchebag, too, who needs 8000 friends?” type exchanges that happen for many others.
Roots via Wikimeda Commons – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Roots_by_cesarpb.jpg
Now…I’m not interested in tangent-ing down the road of, “well, if the data was portable like it should be…”. Because it’s not portable. That’s Facebook’s M.O. and I accept that. We’ve got plenty of other opportunities to make it better. Then, Facebook can play catch up (or not).
So really, the value of ANY social network, be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, ZipKarma, my blogroll, or any other NETWORK OF SOCIAL CONNECTIONS, the value is in those connections, not the tools that the network provides.
In the case of right here right now, the majority of the people that I care about can be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Maybe this is why I chuckle every time someone tries to identify value in social media. I think value is the wrong word.
Value, to me, suggests that it must be for sale because something is only “worth” a certain amount if someone else is willing to pay for it.
I learned that lesson as a kid collecting comic books. It was during a collector “bubble”, and me and my friends were excited to have gotten our hands on comics that were “worth” hundreds of dollars. The reason this bubble was a bubble, though, was that much like many valuations they are arbitrary until someone is willing to shell out. People invested big bucks into comics, and since not many people were on the high end of the buying scale, the whole thing fell in on itself. Comics are still very popular, but people collect them for the enjoyment of them, not necessarily to own a “valuable” collection.
There will never be “value” to a social graph because a social graph’s “value” is highest to it’s creator. And even then, my friends aren’t for sale.
I don’t value Facebook. I don’t value Twitter. I don’t value LinkedIn or even my Blogroll. I appreciate Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all of the individual connections, nay, the individual PEOPLE that make up the social graph. In the case of Twitter, I totally heart twitter because of the WAY that it’s let me connect.
But Heart != value.
Heart = Appreciation++
Now that I’ve identified a new term to replace the overused and diluted term “value” with something more relevant in this context…on to the next task. Getting rid of “social graph” and “join the conversation”.