Google+ Badge

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What Do You Know About Facebook?

Facebook History Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook with fellow computer science major students and his roommates Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes while he was a student at Harvard University. At first, membership was limited to Harvard students, but later expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. Facebook came about as a spin-off of a Harvard University version of Hot or Not called Facemash. Mark Zuckerberg, while attending Harvard as a sophomore, concocted Facemash on October 28, 2003. That night, Zuckerberg was blogging about a girl who had dumped him and trying to think of something to do to get her off his mind. According to The Harvard Crimson, Facemash "used photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine Houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the 'hotter' person." To accomplish this, Zuckerberg hacked into the protected areas of Harvard's computer network and copied the house's private dormitory ID images. Zuckerberg was charged by the administration with breach of security, violating copyrights and violating individual privacy and faced expulsion, but ultimately the charges were dropped. (Kaplan, Katherine (2003-11-19). "Facemash Creator Survives Ad Board." The Harvard Crimson) "Perhaps Harvard will squelch it for legal reasons without realizing its value as a venture that could possibly be expanded to other schools (maybe even ones with good-looking people ... )," Zuckerberg wrote in his personal blog. "But one thing is certain, and it’s that I’m a jerk for making this site. Oh well. Someone had to do it eventually ...." (O'Brien, Luke. November/December 2007) Facebook also faced several lawsuits from a number of Zuckerberg's former classmates, who claim that Facebook had stolen their source code and other intellectual property. In 2004 ConnectU, a company founded by classmates of Zuckerberg, filed a lawsuit against Facebook, claiming that Zuckerberg had broken an oral contract for them to build the Facebook site, copied their idea, and used source code that belonged to them. ( McGinn, Timothy J. 2004-09-13. "Lawsuit Threatens To Close Facebook." Harvard Crimson.) The parties reached a confidential settlement agreement in February 2008 disclosed for 65 million dollars. A February 2009 study has ranked Facebook as the most used social network by worldwide monthly active users, followed by MySpace. ComScore reports that Facebook attracted 132.1 million unique visitors in June 2008, compared to MySpace, which attracted 117.6 million.The website has won awards such as placement into the "Top 100 Classic Websites" by PC Magazine in 2007, and winning the "People's Voice Award" from the Webby Awards in 2008. In August 2008, Business Week reported that private sales by employees, as well as purchases by venture capital firms, had and were being done at share prices that put the company's total valuation at between $3.75 billion and $5 billion. Disabled Accounts

Facebook is known for disabling accounts and not allowing further access to content associated with disabled accounts, without referring to specific incident(s) causing disabling. Behaviors that have been reported to cause Facebook to disable accounts comprise: adding friends too often (despite a feature in Facebook called "Suggestions" that may be used to add people a user knows as friends), browsing Facebook too often, posting too much, and sending too many messages. It is also reported that Facebook does not disclose the limits to behaviors that cause account disabling. ("Facebook Principles." Facebook. and "Product Overview FAQ: Facebook Ad." Facebook)

Facebook members whose accounts have been disabled—some with good reason, some not—are increasingly frustrated with the company’s opaqueness when it comes to trying to figure out what they did wrong. They find that their accounts have been turned off and access to the site and all their data is denied, sometimes without so much as a warning.

What began in 2007 as a trickle of users complaining about deactivated Facebook accounts has turned into a "much larger" group of people posting complaints at Satisfaction Unlimited's site, noted Thor Muller, the site's CEO and founder. "What was alarming to some extent ... was that some of those people were disabled without warning, without being told what they did wrong and were given no clear path to resolve the issue," Muller said. Here's the problem according to Muller:

"Users that are algorithmically flagged are given the runaround when trying to get even basic information about their situation. The lucky ones get their accounts back after a disconcerting and unknown period–but many never do. Considering that Facebook encourages people to revolve their lives around their accounts (it’s an email replacement! the only social graph you’ll ever need!) it is an incredibly traumatic event for each and every one of these people. People are freaking out because they can’t even login to download–let alone delete–the years of data they’ve accumulated."

If Facebook is truly a social utility though, should they be shutting down accounts so frequently? Have you ever had an email address disabled? Anybody that decides to send out spam from their server typically has little issues because the hosts don’t care how you are using your servers for the most part as long as you aren’t affecting other customers. The bottom line is that when you get an email, sign up for hosting, or get any other type of service you can use it how you’d like and rarely are accounts shut down except for those that have blatantly disrupted the service.

I think Facebook should address this problem with specific answers for restrictions and shutdowns. For example, if you start adding a ton of friends when you register for the site, you’ll immediately get a warning that you are adding too many friends and that your account could be disabled. Often times users don’t pay attention to the warnings and their accounts are soon unusable.

Post a Comment