Perhaps it's true that all publicity is good publicity.
Business Insider has revealed that during the recent kerfuffle with Facebook over lack of privacy, the social media site actually increased users at a faster rate. That's despite the droves of users threatening to leave and despite the scores of articles decrying the company's cavalier attitude to privacy.
Do we conclude that users aren't concerned with privacy at all. Hardly, let's cast our mind back to the beginning of the year when Google introduced Buzz, its own social media application. A firestorm of complaintsincluding a legal action, caused a Google rethink and a new set of privacy policies.
So, why the difference? Both Facebook and Google were hit by a wave of complaints over privacy, yet it appears to have had no effect at all on Facebook's onward march, while Google Buzz has stalled - do you know any Buzz users? No, I thought not. Perhaps it's the familiarity, as Henry Higgins might have sung "I've grown accustomed to her Facebook" Or perhaps, in Google's case, it was a question of one slip too many - although the latest row over Wi-Fi sniffing has shown that Google still hasn't given up its habit of acquiring private data.
The whole debate has stirred debate as to exactly what privacy means in the modern world. We want it both ways: we like Google's search engine, maybe its webmail, maybe Talk or Chrome - and we like having them for free. We love sharing our photos, videos and chat with our friends on Facebook and we like having that for free too. There's a pay-off to be made and judging by the lack of decline in Facebook users, it looks like we're all happy with that trade-off, something that's been confirmed now that social media sites are overtaking search engines in popularity
So, everyone's happy. Everyone except the IT manager who might not like such slack definitions of privacy. But they'd better get used to it, this is going to be a world where the wall between what's private and what's open; between's business and personal is going to get increasingly blurred. And the task facing many enterprises will be how to incorporate such social media networks into a corporate IT environment with compromising security.
But maybe everything will change in subsequent months and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's sweat-ridden performance answering questions at the D8 conference will do for him what it did for Nixon against Kennedy in the 1960 presidential debate. However, judging by the gain in Facebook users, it will have no effect at all - remember, Nixon did get to be elected for two terms in the end.
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