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April 22, 2010

Will Facebook dominate the future web?

Posted: 09:29 AM ET

It's hard to make sense of Facebook's announcement from Wednesday's f8 conference without an analogy.

Here's one of my favorites:

"I think it's going to become the plumbing of the web," Alain Chuard, co-founder of Wildfire, a promotions app and website that piggybacks on Facebook's infrastructure, told me at the conference.

Others skip the infrastructure references and go straight to tech war:

"Facebook today launched its latest missile in the war against Google for the trophy of world wide web domination," wrote Jennifer Leggio at the blog ZDNet.

I wrote that Facebook is trying to turn the web into a big cocktail party.

Pick your metaphor. But the meaning is basically the same: As Facebook stretches its tentacles into websites other than its own, adding social and friend-making functionality along the way, the company is positioning itself not just as a website but as an essential piece of the Internet itself. It's infrastructure. It's piping. In this vision, it's the social lubricant that makes the Internet chatter.

That puts the site in obvious competition with Google and others who are trying to organize the Internet and make it more socially engaging.

Some say a Facebook-led social web will make online browsing more convenient.

As the entire internet becomes more tied with a person's social network, you'll get more recommendations that can help you find web pages you'll enjoy. Plus, Facebook is making it ever-easier to share with friends. All you have to do now is click a button that says "like."

Others say the Facebook model gives one company too much power.

"They're holding all of our data. We have to trust them not to sell it to the world," said Ricky S., an app developer who works with Facebook and didn't want his full name used because he wasn't authorized to speak for his company.

And what does Facebook say about it's ambitions?

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his goal is to make the web a better place. If his site happens to make more money by selling ads on, then so-be it.

In closing his keynote address at f8, he used a metaphor of his own, comparing the future web, as led by Facebook's social infrastructure, to heaven.

"There's an old saying that says that when you go to heaven, all of your friends are there and everything is just the way you want it to be," he said.

"So, together let's make a world that's that good."

What do you think? Is Facebook on the way to becoming the web's plumbing? Can it compete with Google? Should any private company have so much power?

Let us know with comments on this post.

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Clkonline   April 22nd, 2010 11:28 am ET

I generally have faith in the tech community, they are driven by a desire to make things better.

Seeing as people are using analogies I will use a quote just to be different "they are so preoccupied with whether they could, they don't stop to think whether they should" (Jurrasic Park).

I am all for moving forward but maybe a body who can put them under the moral and ethical microscope with authority but without stifling them would be helpful.

Erdell   April 22nd, 2010 11:48 am ET

Who Watches the Watchers?

jerembob   April 22nd, 2010 3:56 pm ET

Facebook has an air of evil about it . I trust nothing they do.

Sency   April 22nd, 2010 4:16 pm ET

I don't think the Like Buttons are going to end up being the future of the web

Franko   April 22nd, 2010 5:04 pm ET

Erdell - "Who Watches the Watchers?"

Do not question, show respect !
NSA CIA FBI KGB Ooogle are on a mission from God

nbcunha   April 23rd, 2010 5:17 am ET

One of the great things about the internet is the lack of regulation, and governments are still at odds of how to go about this, in my view lets keep it that way because the benefits and the freedom far outweigh the negatives.

Although Facebook is part of this open innovation and is a large part of the internet engine, lets not forget how much power they are getting. The sharing and dissemination of information, especially one's personal info can and should only go so far because sometimes knowing too much can instill doubts and fears. Imagine your neighbour suddenly rebuilds his house and it's now made out of glass. Suddenly you notice that he polishes his 50 gun collection every night at 10pm before he goes to bed, and you naturally start feeling uneasy about the guns and about the fact that he polishes every single one of them every night.

My point is that sometimes it's best we don't know everything, and Facebook is built on that culture of curiosity and people get off on letting strangers into their lives.

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Malm   April 23rd, 2010 6:08 am ET

Just add the dislike button.

But really, the "power" that Facebook holds is not that huge. Well yeah, they do have the personal information of its userbase but what would they gain by using it for their own benefits. Even if they would start to chase something by them surely governments and human rights accociations would be there to stop them.

What comes to Google – Facebook feud.. Now that's just absurd, ain't it..?

jennii krissee jussii   April 23rd, 2010 6:12 am ET

I think facebook is very GOOD place to spend time. And its not bad at all if facebook expands all over the web. But it's bad if pedophiles follow my doings and look my profile everyday.
We havet be carefully if we let everobody see our wall and profile.

Marjo ja Salla   April 23rd, 2010 6:13 am ET

We think that facebook is a good invention. There you can keep in touch with your friends. But you should think carefully of what you publish there.

JEABEIBI   April 23rd, 2010 6:14 am ET


PilviAlina   April 23rd, 2010 6:17 am ET

Should any private company have so much power?
-no. because nowadays young people are more and more in the internet so if there is some company which have too much power the young people go "crazy" and they wouldn´t have their own opinions.
And then young people will be just hanging in internet and they dont do anything else, like been outside or do their homeworks. it is not good idea that there would be just one mega company in the internet because then the mega company make the rules in the internet.

Jim H   April 23rd, 2010 3:20 pm ET

As long as the user has control over his/her information whatever evolves is OK I guess. But the reality is that money talks and once a powerful and wide reaching network is established it often gets bought out and taken over by those with a different agenda. MySpace is a prime example of corporate takeover, sterilization, and castration of what once was almost alive. There are too many "gotchas" as it is on Facebook. The fine print on so many of the silly and innocent little apps all seem to indicate that using them changes your privacy arrangement. You think you are protected by the user settings on the Facebook Account Page, but the agreements on the apps give the originator of it full access to your info, photos, and more. People do not understand this. It's so plainly obvious that the rate that Internet technology is advancing is exceeding the ability of all but a very few to understand what they are getting involved with. Most people barely grasp the innuendos and plain B.S. of television advertising. I have heard it said that the Devil can't cross your threshold; you have to invite him in. In the case of Facebook and many other of those types of sites, what you see is seldom what you are getting. It would be better if they were more open and up-front about what and how they work as related to their users. Maybe it's because they are asking us to trust them and there aren't and haven't been many corporations that haven't betrayed the public trust.

Troy   April 23rd, 2010 8:27 pm ET


And what does Facebook say about *it's* (SIC) ambitions?

(end paste)

If you are a writer, you should know that ITS never ever ever has an apostrophe unless it means *it is.*



(end paste)

If you are a writer you should know that using words twice and together in one sentence is not proper grammar structure.

vkelman   April 23rd, 2010 11:15 pm ET

Here's what is possible wrong in that FacebookWeb: Facebook attempts to become a single center of operations. The main principle which Tim Berners-Lee introduced to Internet the very reason why WWW became so successful is distribution. Web explicitly avoids to have a single point of control. Is it peer-to-peer communication or is it a communication through servers, there are usually many duplicating ways to connect. There is no single database which ties in the Web, there is no center. That's why Web is scalable and dependable, that's what to certain degree ensures Web's neutrality.
Yes, social graph is a powerful thing. But as always, a key is common protocols. Instead of having a single center of command (which Facebook aims to become), scalable Web architecture needs multiple areas which have common interface protocols.

Sure, small cites cannot afford developing their own social graph functionality, they can delegate it to Facebook, but generally speaking it is better if there will be multiple portals offering such a delegation services, or lending / offering for free standard social graph tools .

Spencer Shein   April 24th, 2010 12:22 am ET

Information sharing and the best collaboration tools!
Spencer Shein

cee cee   April 24th, 2010 4:10 pm ET

What i dont like about facebook is how they can decide to all of a sudden change privacy settings and then you have to adapt to them, they dont ask what you prefer or give you a few options its like heres the new settings and you can like it or leave it. they do have so much power that this could be very unfair, and mostly for the privacy thing i think we should be allowed as many options to keep our page and info private, we shouldnt have to let everyone even people we are not friends with see who are friends are, even for safety reasons this was not a fair move when they changed the settings recently. i think if they want to have so much power and dominate the web then they should also be more democratic and allow thier users to help decide changes, they should be updating and warning us of any changes long before and seeing how we feel about it or what we would want. other wise its like having totalitarianism!

Rex   April 25th, 2010 10:32 pm ET

The megalithic FB (and soon to become omnipresent as well?), may one day be used to round up the masses, and then using the millions of self-authored profiles stored in it's database, will be able to separate the compliant from the resistors. Just you wait and see....

Choco-Tan   April 26th, 2010 6:57 pm ET

I really hope Twitter doesn't take over the web. I find that website so annoying!(This also includes Facebook,MySpace,ect... who knows how many blog sites are out there....)Really, who cares about what you ate for breakfast, or what kind of coffee your having at Starbucks. Point is...NO ONE CARES!!!!!!!!!

Andrew Mann   April 26th, 2010 11:25 pm ET

I think that is great that Facebook is dominating the web. I like Facebook. It is a good way for me to keep in touch with my Scout Troop, Keep in contact with my family, friends, and my Fiancee. If they start charging me $3.98 per month starting July 10th, 2010. Or when ever they start charging. I will cancel all my Facebbok Accounts and stick with Twitter and sign up with Myspace again. Also tell my Fiancee to do the samething.

Victoria Osorio   April 26th, 2010 11:56 pm ET turns the Facebook concept on its head, and instead of attempting to be the one social network for all content, it has opened up it's content to the major social networks. The spirit of the internet lives on. And, Launches Frindie, First-of-its-kind Social Music Application...

Cthuluchef   April 27th, 2010 12:49 am ET

Whats Facebook?

Roie   April 27th, 2010 4:32 am ET

Facebook is the natural evolution of Google. In the past few years Google results are either biased by proven brands, by SEO's with interests or are simply results from "authority" sites such as Wikipedia, Twitter etc. Since G is so easily manipulated – a human recommendation is more sensible, reliable and harder to manipulate.

ASIF IQBAL   April 27th, 2010 9:50 am ET

Well I think someone has to bring some options and Facebook is the great option and I wouldn't consider it competing with Google, Google is a power Engine millions of ppl trust on Google just b/z of the results and the quality provided by Google whereas Facebook is the social power house, where you get associated with ppl, you interact with ppl. Both are two different platforms

PabuBoy   April 29th, 2010 12:51 am ET

It's amazing that people still assume that they can post their personal information (ie. Facebook Profile) on the web, and think its private. It's like those people that think a conversation on a cell phone in an elevator is private.

Dustin   April 29th, 2010 5:09 pm ET

On the contrary, I think people are recognizing that Facebook is growing much more commercialized, much like MySpace did (which prompted many to leave that site). Too many games, too many needless applications, and too much advertising. In the next few years, we'll probably see yet another social networking site emerge that is even more user friendly and less intrusive (until their user base grows too large and they follow the MySpace/Facebook trend).

Tony Porras   April 29th, 2010 9:18 pm ET

If you can't beat them,...join them, but hurry!

Dave   May 3rd, 2010 11:42 am ET


And what does Facebook say about *it's* (SIC) ambitions?

(end paste)

If you are a writer, you should know that ITS never ever ever has an apostrophe unless it means *it is.*



(end paste)

If you are a writer you should know that using words twice and together in one sentence is not proper grammar structure.

(end paste)

If you are a writer you should know that other people will always find something to criticize, and this message will be cut and pasted and commented on ad infinitum.

Mark B.   May 3rd, 2010 7:40 pm ET

I find it endlessly hilarious that we (the tech community) are entertaining the notion that Facebook has redefined anything to begin with, much less that they are somehow poised to reinvent the way we see or use the web. Facebook can't come up with one original idea.

Richard Zulu   May 4th, 2010 2:12 pm ET

Facebook has opened and exposed it's users out to the world, it seems there is no longer any privacy moreso with the limited privacy settings that were introduced. Yes, the facebookweb is on it's way, however, the mission...i don't know. It can't compete with Google yet..not for now.

SAM   May 5th, 2010 5:26 am ET


Does Facebook have a future? | Iratiti's Blog   December 10th, 2010 5:44 am ET

[...] Alain Chuard,for instance, co-founder of Wildfire, a promotions app and website that piggybacks on Facebook's infrastructure, believes that Facebook will dominate the future web he mantains that Facebook it's going to become the plumbing of the web. [...]

Does Facebook have a future? « Deusto's Littera Media   December 18th, 2010 12:19 pm ET

[...] D. Sutter, writer/producer, wrote on his post, that "Facebook is trying to turn the web into a big cocktail party" and he also wrote [...]

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