It has all come down to this – (NASDAQ: FB) – the ticker symbol for Facebook that made its debut this morning. Today marks the initial public offering (IPO) for Facebook that was started by Mark Zuckerberg back in February 4, 2004, with his Harvard buddies Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. At first, only Harvard students could access Facebook. Eventually, colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University gained access. Facebook was not open to the general public until September 26, 2006, to everyone of age 13 and older with a valid email address.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been a fan of Facebook. However, I’m not a hater, I do have an account but I only created it to keep in touch with my family that I don’t see very often. Facebook allows me to share moments of my life that otherwise my family would never know about. They’ve been able to watch my five year old daughter grow and see pictures of our first home.
The biggest downside to Facebook would have to be the privacy concerns. My account is pretty locked down and I intend to keep it that way. I don’t play Farmville or any of the crazy time consuming games that I used to get invites to. I’m one of those people that post in their timeline to not send me anything game related. Anything third party related that requests access to any part of your account is only trying to data mine you. Simple and plain, I don’t allow anything access to my account outside of say the iPhone Facebook app access, which by the way sucks terribly and their designers need to take design cues from the newly updated Google + app. Facebook settled FTC charges that it deceived consumers by failing to keep privacy promises which occurred on November 29, 2011. Mashable just announced that Facebook was hit With $15 Billion user tracking lawsuit. That’s not a good way to start life as a publicly traded company.
Facebook seriously needs to work hard on improving their stance on privacy concerns or it could tarnish the company for years to come. I’d be quite nervous if I was one of the people who was buying Facebook stocks today. The social connectivity comes with a price and that seems to be our individual privacy. Mark Zuckerberg was famously quoted as saying “The Age of Privacy is Over” which didn’t sit well with many. I don’t feel like we should have to trade our anonymity on the internet to be tracking by the likes of Facebook or Twitter. At the end of the day it’s big business for them to data mine all of us to know our shopping habits and how to target advertising which is the primary source of income for their sites. I’d honestly pay to use Twitter as long as they promised me 100% that my activities weren’t being tracked. I could never see Facebook owning up to such a promise.
I’m curious to what direction Facebook will take now that they’re a publicly traded company. They now have to answer to shareholders and don’t have as much rope to hang themselves with as they did before. The overall public internet view of Facebook has seemed to shift a great deal to a more negative stance. With competitors such as Google + hanging around and gaining traction, Facebook should tread lightly with the public because all it takes is one big blow up on the internet and the next thing Facebook will be Myspace.