Steve Cheney takes aim at the Zuckerberg Fallacy — that we each should have a single uniform identity across all social scenes — and points out why big media is playing along with Facebook’s attempts to convert us to his overly simplistic view of the world:
Steve Cheney, How Facebook is Killing Your Authenticity
Last week a bunch of massive sites across the web, including TechCrunch, adopted Facebook commenting. The integration of the formatting and fonts is so strong that when you’re reading comments you actually feel like you are on Facebook, not a tech focused vertical site.
This latest push by Facebook to tie people to one identity across the interwebs is very troublesome.
The problem with tying internet-wide identity to a broadcast network like Facebook is that people don’t want one normalized identity, either in real life, or virtually.
People yearn to be individuals. They want to be authentic. They have numerous different groups of real-life friends. They stylize conversations. They are emotional and have an innate need to connect on different levels with different people. This is because humans are born with an instinctual desire to understand the broader context of their surroundings and build rapport, a social awareness often called emotional intelligence.
In the beginning, Facebook catered to this instinct we all have. But FB in its current form, a big graph of people who may or may not know anything about one another, does not.
And forcing people to comment – and more broadly speaking to log-on – with one identity puts a massive stranglehold on our very nature. I’m not too worried about FB Comments in isolation, but the writing is on the wall: all of this off-site encroachment of the Facebook graph portends where FB is really going in pushing one identity. And a uniform identity defies us.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise me why this is happening. The carrot here for content sites is clear: even with a lower volume of comments, the potential viral effects and CTRs are something parent sites like AOL are surely extrapolating, based on their recent manifesto to boost reach, drive traffic, and maximize page views (though I’d argue they would perform much better on mainstream sites like HuffPo or TMZ than a niche vertical like TC, which your friends are less likely to be aware of).
There’s a pretty straightforward reason why FB is valued at an astonishing $75B, and it’s all about them forming a reciprocal feedback loop between Facebook.com and other sites so that you can be targeted.
But for such a massively social company, Facebook’s insistence that you have one identity across the web is both short-sighted and asinine, and people I talk to are starting to realize this.
But the media companies see us as page hits, not people, just a way to make money.
The stripmalling of the web is in full swing, and Facebook is the worst of the new chain stores. It has all the charm of Starbucks, and the same ersatz sameness in every part of the business. Facebook personalizes in the most trivial of ways, like the Starbucks barristas writing your name on the cup, but they totally miss the deeper stata of our sociality. But they don’t care: they are selling us, not helping us.