Facebook worth more than $XX billion, say people with a vested interest in Facebook

Quiz time: Facebook  is worth how many billions of dollars?

  1. 3.7
  2. 9.5
  3. 23
  4. 33

facebook_dollar Different people have given all of the above answers and a lot of other places have published them as fact, even though these numbers are are self-serving and cannot be verified. The first two are by Facebook itself, in February and November of last year. The third is from Forbes and the last one is from the Financial Times – and all of them are totally, completely untrustworthy. Why? Well, let’s look at how Forbes’ Steve Bertoni put it: “Recent private equity investments in Facebook valued the firm at around $23 billion–more than triple its 2009 value of $7 billion.” Now why would anyone who had invested in a company possibly say that company is worth far more than previously reported? Hmmmmm. 

Facebook is a private company, so no one outside of a select few really know how much money – if any – Facebook is making. But even it’s self-reported numbers don’t sustain valuations that give it a market cap of between $23B and $33B. By way of comparison, eBay’s market cap is $32B. As Mashable so ably puts it

Facebook is still a private company that hasn’t completely figured out the profit equation. While it should surpass $1 billion in revenue this year, its infrastructure costs are also high. eBay, while not as sexy, brought in $2.215 billion in revenue during just the second quarter of this year.

What is appalling is that how many business publications are willing collaborators in this absurd deception. I am glad to see that the Wall Street Journal seems to have learned its lesson about this (see Twitter valued at $1 Billion say people with a vested interest in Twitter). H.L. Mencken had a simple rule of thumb for reporting a story like this: “It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.”

Buzzword bingo face-off: iPad vs. Google Buzz

What’s the best jargon generator, Google Buzz or iPad?

Nobody actually knows what impact either of these technologies will have, but everybody still wants to say something about them. Here’s a totally unscientific sampling from a bunch of blogs highlighting the best jargon describing each of them.

The iPad is being called a game changer, a new platform, a multipurpose e-reader, and an enterprise opportunity especially now that it has greenlighted VOIP. (That last was actually in a headline.) It also has accessibility out-of-the-box.

Can we all agree on a single use for the box and what is outside it? Did accessibility out-of-the-box come from thinking outside of the box? Which box are we using here and what was in it to begin with? Do cereal or shoes have accessibility out-of-the-box?

The best iPad-related jargon sentence: “Apple may well have zeroed in on the inflection point for a new piece of consumer technology.”

Despite the iPad buzz, Google’s new Buzz wins the jargon prize based on a single blog post from Poynter’s Will Sullivan. This is one of the most astounding single-sentence paragraphs I have ever read:

Based on the YouTube video explanation, Buzz is kind of a Facebook-foursquare-Twitter-FriendFeed competitor, but could be much more than the sum of the Google products they’re integrating with it, including Google Profiles, Google Gmail (its Contact list gets integrated automatically), Google Picasa photos (it can also incorporate feeds from other multimedia tools such as Flickr and YouTube) …

Read the rest and increase my page view count by clicking here and going to my blog at EmediaVitals.

Facebook causes crimes, cops & cancer

It’s Facebook’s world — we only live in it.

I am guilty as charged, see here for proof.

facebook-death

A killer app for LinkedIn and other such sites

A little insignia that indicates you actually know a person as opposed to just being part of your “network.” Any time I need an intro at LinkedIn I always email the person who I’m connected to and check whether or not they actually are. Allow me to quote one friend’s response:

Good news: Sent an intro.

Bad news: I don’t know who the f- he is.

That is the point at which the utility of LinkedIn et al. starts to break

I hate it when they’re funnier than I am, Part 2: Social Terror Networking

Damn you, BOROWITZ!!!

After successfully sponsoring several of the presidential debates, Facebook is spreading its wings once more, announcing today that it would become the official co-sponsor of the United States’ war on terror.

In snagging the coveted anti-terrorism sponsorship, the popular networking site beat out two of its rivals, MySpace and YouTube, who had also vied to co-sponsor the global struggle against Islamic extremism.

As if that wasn’t enough to piss me off, he’s also written:

Obama Wins Country Music Entertainer of the Year … Coming off a weekend in which he racked up victories in Nebraska, Washington, Louisiana, the Virgin Islands and Maine, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) extended his amazing winning streak today by being named the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year. For Mr. Obama, who is not a country music entertainer, the award represents a significant upset since it had been expected to go to longtime country favorite Kenny Chesney.

Oh, hell … stop reading me and go read him. I surrender. This blog will now be devoted to knitting and those few other topics I know even less about than politics, marketing & humor.

Facebook-causes-suicide story spreads even as facts recede

As noted earlier this week, Facebook and other social networking sites have been blamed for a wave of teen suicides in the UK. This was simply too good a story for the press to pass up — regardless of the facts in the matter.

Now comes word from Down Under that:

Psychologists in Australia have warned about the power of glamorising death through social networking sites in the wake of a spate of suicides in the UK

Translation: A reporter or editor saw the story and said “Localize it!” So someone called around to a bunch of local head shrinkers and asked for their opinions. To no one’s surprise the psychologists said this is a bad thing. No one seems to have told the mental health types the only fact contained in the entire story.

However, a police spokesman in Bridgend said there was no evidence to date of a suicide pact and that the theory did not come from police.

So the news  (a.k.a, the lead) is buried in the fourth paragraph and contradicts the basis for the rest of the article. Thus an accurate headline would read: Cops say suicide pact story is nonsense

What makes the article even better (better here meaning “an improved quality of stupidity) is the fact that the final paragraphs feature a medical person saying stories like this could exacerbate the problem.

Dr Jonathon Scourfield, a lecturer in social sciences, said cultural and social influences were influential in the decision to commit suicide.

“The more stories that appear about young people having killed themselves in your area, the more it might appear to you to be a reasonable response to a particular kind of crisis,” he said.

Sometimes it is difficult to remember that the only thing worse than having a free press is not having one.

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Not content with destroying the economy, Facebook is now causing suicides

It’s official: social networking and not the pursuit of money is now the source of all evil.

Previously Facebook et al., have been blamed for A) destroying the economy, B) supplying information to Cosa Nostra and C) ruining Christmas. (All those who think the state of the economy has something to do with absurd lending practices and oil flirting with the $100-a-barrel mark will be required to take a remedial class in sensational journalism.)

Now comes the latest word that a social networking site (that would be the et al. mentioned above) are driving teens to kill themselves.

The deaths of seven young people from the same town in South Wales could be linked to a suicide craze sweeping a social networking internet site.

According to reports detectives believe the goal of the suicides isn’t actually death but to have one’s friends set up an online cenotaph and thus gain some postmortem coolth.

“They may think it’s cool to have a memorial website,” one officer told The Times newspaper. “It may even be a way of achieving prestige among their peer group.”

Now I’ve heard more absurd theories — something about Iraq and WMDs comes to mind — but not many. All the reading I’ve done suggests that the key ingredient to suicide is mental illness not internet access.

Sadly this is not the first time I have encountered reports of teens making a fad of killing themselves. When I was in college there was a report of a wave of teens hanging themselves on Long Island. If memory serves experts offered theories ranging from the then-nascent MTV to the ever popular alienation. However further review of the evidence revealed that in fact these were all botched attempts at what the NY Times genteelly referred to as “auto-erotic asphyxiation.”

I could be wrong of course. Perhaps the world has changed even more radically than I realize since I was a teen. That was, after all, back when mastodons and manual typewriters roamed the earth. At the time I was as angst-y as they came — the amount of time I spent listening to Jackson Browne records and reading Yeats could be measured in years. But even I wouldn’t have considered killing myself to get my friends to say nice things about me when I was gone.

Paul Smith also takes a skeptical view of this on his blog here.
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First the economy, then Christmas — is there anything Facebook can’t destroy?

(from my other blog, Business&Networking)

MoveOn.org has discovered what some tech companies already knew: Blaming Facebook for something is the quick road to free PR. MoveOn makes the case for Facebook is Bad with the kind of slant and sensational language usually reserved for the promos of local TV news:

Facebook, the social networking site, is violating our privacy. Books, movies, or holiday gifts bought online automatically get shared with everyone you know.

It gets better. Read/WriteWeb says:

MoveOn even blames Facebook for ruining Christmas, including in a press release sent out to the media today quotes from users like this one: “I saw my gf [girlfriend] bought an item I had been saying I wanted…so now part of my Christmas gift has been ruined. Facebook is ruining Christmas!” – Matthew from New York (Why do I have the feeling that Matthew hasn’t had a job that would result in calloused hands?)

Mr GIn addition to ruining this most commercial of holidays with unwanted information, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called for all puppies to be beaten to death with stolen candy canes! We should have seen this coming. Just look at this picture from Zuckerberg’s profile. Note that his status reads: “Mark is plotting the destruction of all the Whos down in Whoville.”

This story seems to have caught on with the media & blogosphere because, quelle surprise!, the Facebook protesters are using Facebook to organize! There’s cheap irony and then there’s lame irony. This is the latter.

My deepest objection to this MoveOn screed is that it’s just yelling and posturing and not about having a conversation. Privacy is a very big issue for Facebook et al. And, like so many other issues, it’s too complex to fit on to a bumper sticker. As MoveOn’s organizers well know, slogans make for great demagoguery and lousy conversations.

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Further proof press will run any study that blames Facebook for something

(cross-posted from Business & Networking)

Two Australian press outlets (and counting) have come up yet another way Facebook Is Destroying The Economy: The Age & The Courier Mail both have reports today on how, “a growing number of young Australians are becoming addicted to online social networking.”

Of course you don’t just make charges like that without substantiation. Both publications site the same study — and nothing but that study. This study was put together by one Julian Cole, an interweb strategist with the Aussie ad firm Naked Communications. As is usual in these things, Mr. Cole and his research are the only source cited in either story.

In a previous version of this post I incorrectly implied that Mr. Cole’s research may have been biased because of where he works. Mr. Cole has graciously written in with a very important correction:

The thesis was actually part of an Honours degree at Monash University. Naked Communication just happens to be the place that I work.

My apologies to Mr. Cole. I should stick to what I know best — making fun of lousy press coverage. Nowhere in the stories I read was it made clear that this work was done for his thesis. That is the fault of the reporter, not Mr. Cole. I have no reason to believe or even suspect Mr. Cole’s research is anything but scientific and accurate.  I was lead astray by lousy reporting. Again my apologies and thanks for the note.

My personal congratulations to Facebook for being accused of the same crime that the Athenians got Socrates with: Corrupting the youth. That’s some pretty damn good company you are keeping.

Yahoo! News has five other outlets reprinting the same story. Well, it’s early in the news cycle here in the US so I have no doubt that number will grow.

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Facebook is not only destroying the economy, it’s helping the Mob

Today’s example of ridiculously bad sensationalist journalism comes once again from Australia, where the idea of having more than one source for a story seems to be unheard of.

ORGANISED criminals are increasing their efforts to steal sensitive data from the computers of company chiefs, British-based IT security firm MessageLabs warns.

Go here for more details.

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Mourning in the digital age, or why I hate Facebook

Grief is taking on new shapes, forms and rituals in today’s world. There’s Cemetery 2.o,

[The] device maintains a live satellite Internet connection. Visitors to the physical memorial can view related memorials on the device display, while visitors paying their respects at any of the online memorials will recognize that their browsing is associated directly with the actual burial site.

For the generation growing up now using the Web for this is no odder than my parent’s generation posting death notices in the newspapers.

Social networking Web sites, like Facebook, MySpace and Friendster … have become an outlet for young adults to express their grief when friends die. They write messages to their dead friends, and even tell them stories of recent events.

Less noted is the little difficulties of coming across digital detritus from family and friends who have died. My Aunt Cathleen died last month and yesterday I deleted her phone number from my cell phone. That phone number — which is the only one she’d ever had during my lifetime — is no longer in use and I would see it and her name every time I went looking for a phone number. I like to remember my aunt, but seeing it that many times a day was just too much right now. I wanted an option other than delete, though. It took a long minute before I was willing to hit the button that was laden with so much finality.

Which brings me to why I hate Facebook. Actually I don’t hate it as a service or anything like that. It’s just that in January my beloved cousin Deirdre wrote “Hi Con” on my “wall” at Facebook. Deirdre, Cathleen’s daughter, died in June. There’s no way I’m removing that posting. So I cringe whenever someone suggests doing something via Facebook. In time, that will change but for now I hate Facebook.

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From super models to hunters: 10 more odd niche social networking sites

Last week it was everything from Bugs Bunny to death. This week’s discovery in the world of niche social networking sites features:

  1. HunterShare — the only thing better then getting together over a real dead animal is getting together over a virtual one.
  2. travlbuddyTravBuddy — TravBuddy is one of a number of different networking sites for travelers, but to me it stands out because of its slogan. Now I’ll admit to having a few gray hairs (in full honesty at this point I only have a few non-gray hairs) so maybe this is a cultural reference that others don’t get. That said, “fellow travelers” used to be a euphemism for communists. So maybe they should have more red in their logo?
  3. Zebras — for Zebras. I don’t know how they will fill out their profiles or what they will have to chat about but the headline says: Social Networking Software Tracks Zebras and Consumers. BTW, zebras are one of the nastiest breeds of animal there is. Even nastier than consumers.
  4. MePeace — For Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians who don’t want to kill each other. Here’s hoping there are more than one of each.
  5. ASmallWorld, ModelsHotel & DarwinDating — For, respectively, super models, super models and people who think they’re as attractive as super models but not as accomplished.
  6. PropertyQube & StreetAdvisor — Where property owners can get together and brag about how much their homes used to be worth.
  7. Eons, Rezoom, Multiply, Maya’s Mom and Boomertown — So many sites chasing so many baby boomers.
  8. DiggFoot — a social network of social network sites. It’s getting awfully meta in here people.
  9. Sermo — Doctors.
  10. Refresh Phoenix — Probably the weirdest social networking site yet: It’s for tech geeks to get together IN PERSON. I am so not ready for this.

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Facebook CONTINUES to destroy the economy!

This time it’s in the UK & the BBC are doing the PR work for the company with a vested interest who has produced the study:

Workers who spend time on sites such as Facebook could be costing firms over £130m a day, a study has calculated. According to employment law firm Peninsula, 233 million hours are lost every month as a result of employees “wasting time” on social networking.

The only person quoted in the story? Someone from the law firm. Here’s the key quote that’s being picked up by other outlets too lazy to actually do any reporting on the story:

“Why should employers allow their workers to waste two hours a day on Facebook when they are being paid to do a job?” said Mike Huss of Peninsula. “The figures that we have calculated are minimums and it’s a problem that I foresee will escalate.”

If we could link this to Iraq, Global Warming & Brittany it would be the perfect media storm.
USAToday sources the story by saying “the BBC reports.” That’s a stretch of the word reporting. Google comes up with 22 outlets that have either picked up or re-written the story.

I’m still waiting for a reporter to

  1. Check the methodology of these studies
  2. Interview ANYONE ELSE about it
  3. See if anyone knows how much time was being “wasted” prior to the advent of MySpace/Facebook, et al

Is that really too much to ask? Apparently, yes.

My other favorite not-as-yet-questioned-by-press study about time wasting, computers & work:

Among white-collar workers surveyed, nearly a quarter (24 percent) said they play casual videogames “at work.” 35 percent of CEOs, CFOs and other senior executives also said they play at work, according to a PopCap Games survey targeting white-collar workers, reports MarketingCharts.

Well, if the CEO is doing it then it’s got to be OK.

Also, if workers are “wasting” so much time on these sites, how come we keep getting these increases in productivity?

See also:

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From Bugs Bunny to Death: Social networking sites go really, really, really niche

I believe that general social networking sites (SNS) like LinkedIn, FaceBook and MySpace have run into a bit of a wall. While they are great a connecting people in general, they don’t do as good a job of connecting people in specific — that is people with a shared interest who don’t actually want to connect with those who don’t share that interest.

Now I’m not exactly unique in having this insight. As a matter of fact A LOT of people think there’s money to be made here. Herewith a list of some of the odder social networks I have come across:

Updates as I find them.

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First God gets an airline, now He/She/They/It get a social networking site

Social networking seems to have found religion or visa versa.

A site called CircleBuilder.com wants to be a MySpace and FaceBook “where people of all faiths can come together to nurture their personal relationships and put their faith into practice.”

The idea of an on-line social networking service for religion seems odd to me. Churches, mosques, synagogues are one of, if not THE orginal social network. That person-to-person community and connection is such an essential part of what these places are that having an on-line simulacrum seems … I don’t know exactly … but at least jarring.

It is a deeply non-denominational site – which in a way I also find jarring.

CircleBuilder is an online networking and management platform enabling faith-based organizations to increase their membership, improve fundraising, organize events and more efficiently serve their community. Through our simple to use web-based interface we create numerous “touch points”—personalized emails, shared calendars, blogs, text messages, online donations and storefronts, streaming media and newsletters—by which members can communicate with their organizations and with each other.

CBlogoNothing wrong with any of this, it’s just that I’m a uncomfortable with the euphemisms they use: people of faith & faith-based organization. While it is inclusive it is also so inclusive as to be meaningless: Cubs fans are a people of faith and support a faith-based organization, after all. Isn’t our current administration’s foreign policy faith-based, in the worst possible meaning of the phrase. (And isn’t the CircleBuilder logo just a wee bit Christian looking? Maybe what makes me uncomfortable about these euphemisms is that so far I have only heard them from Christians so they’re like code words to use in situations where that pesky separation of church-and-state issue might come up.)

I come from Rhode Island, a state founded by Roger Williams because he thought people should have the freedom to worship or not worship in whatever way they please without government interference. I have always been very proud of the fact that my little home state was started for this reason. (And it doesn’t hurt that Williams actually purchased the land for his first settlement from the Native Americans who were living in the area!) So I am a big believer in the ecumenical.

That said, I think a person belongs to a church or a synagogue or a mosque or wood grove or temple to Apollo or whatever and not to just some generic “faith.” Heck, my religious beliefs are so idiosyncratic that once you get past prayer and the belief in a deity I’m generally at variance with some tenet or another of pretty much every organized system of worship. But just the same, I’d rather be called someone who believes in God than a “person of faith.”

Wonder what the folks over at my favorite church marketing blog think about all this?

UPDATE: Just found a VentureBeat article from earlier this week on the general theme of churches and social networking … click here … the author doesn’t mention CircleBuilder, but I don’t have a lot of those things he has … what are they called? … oh yeah, facts.