At this point, competing with Facebook is going to be like competing with oxygen as the main source of breathable substances for humans.
Then again, a few years back, it seemed MySpace wasn’t doomed for the devastating fall it endured, and here we are. Former Myspace Music CTO Dmitry Shapiro is out to challenge the internet Goliath, and like most Facebook challengers, the proposed social network has a tweak that sets it apart from the massive competition: privacy.
Arguably but at least to some degree, it seems Facebook’s rampant rise globally is down to the stripping away of privacy wholesale. Much of the activity engaged in on the site is schadenfraude-related, and studies have shown that a lot of the draw of Facebook is reinforcement of self- that is, when you look at your own Facebook profile, you get a feel-good ego boost. Which is due in part to… unbridled presentation of data.
And before anyone gets on the very high “I don’t share sensitive stuff” horse, you do. The site is known to leak your information just by merit of how it operates. It knows far more about any of us users than we might care to realize. How Shapiro seeks to circumvent this very basic aspect of the site- or whether it’s just lip service about deliberately shared data- remains to be seen. Shapiro says:
There is clearly nothing wrong with Facebook making money, as all business has to do. What IS clearly wrong is when our privacy, our personal information, our digital lives are being subjugated for the sake of profit, without us having any meaningful capability to opt out, or even know the extent of such activity.
Okay, fair enough. He adds:
Well, herein lies the problem. There are NO serious alternatives at this time. For every Coke there is a Pepsi, for every Ford there is a Chevy, for every PC there is a Mac and for every Facebook there is…. a void! Facebook has such overwhelming power that practically no one believes that trying to build an alternative is possible.
It will be interesting to see how the site shapes up- by the way, it will be called “Altly”- and whether users give much of a damn about their privacy. Will you test run the service when it hits to see if it’s worth keeping some data under wraps? Do privacy concerns limit your Facebook use?