The Facebook debate – can we take you seriously if you've never used it?

I’ve recently seen a flurry of blogs about the merits (or not) of Facebook as a social networking environment. I was stirred to action when I read Elsua’s blog this morning, which in turn refers to the question posed by Mitch Joel "Can you claim to be in social media without having a Facebook account".

Now, whilst I don’t disagree with many of the points made by Elsua, or for that matter Euan Semple, who writes about Facebook being all froth and no substance, I would like to pose the following question:

If you’re serious about Social Media, and profess to be an ‘expert’, where there is a major gathering of like-minded socially-active individuals, can you afford to NOT be there?

Yes, there are a lot of shortcomings with Facebook, but if you want to comment about it with any authority, you need to be a part of it, not a bystander watching on the periphery.


  1. Euan Semple said:

    I check probably half a dozen times an hour – does that count?


    September 4, 2007
  2. Dissident said:


    sure does, and I agree with your previously stated views on lack of RSS on Facebook (hence why I presume you’re dipping in and out every few mins!). My comment was aimed at the many who wish to pass seemingly authoritative statements on something they’ve never seen or tried. I guess I need a holiday!

    September 4, 2007
  3. Dave Briggs said:

    I love it when Steve gets angry! 😉

    It’s a valid point, though – rather like the outraged reactions to TV programmes by prominent people who then admit that they never actually saw them.

    Facebook has its weaknesses Euan is right – at the moment it is froth, with a sprinkle of application invite spam on top. But it isn’t finished, and if they listen and respond to the critics, then we will end up with a platform that is pretty special. The question is whethet those running it want to build something special, or just something that will make money.

    The general point is that social media enthusiasts should sign for and experience everything going. It’s what Gmail was made for.

    September 4, 2007
  4. Euan Semple said:

    It is what g-mail is useful for but when you get sites like Querch spamming your address book with invites when all it said it was doing was checking who had already signed up like I just have then getting your hands dirty gets risky!

    September 4, 2007
  5. Luis Suarez said:

    Whooops! It looks like I may be having the conversation elsewhere! I have shared some further commentary with Steve right over here: in a post he shared over at Dissident World. And after reading the comments as well from various folks, plus the input from our conversation, I am still not convinced that I would joining. Last reply in that blog provides some hints as to why that is the case.

    September 5, 2007
  6. Dissident said:

    In response to Luis – apologies for confusion I’ve caused. I’m running two parallel blogs at present – this one and the one over at I’m trying out WordPress at Dissidentworld and haven’t yet quite made the leap. Guess I’d better decide soon!

    September 5, 2007
  7. Coming back to Steve’s original point… Yes, agree one hundred per cent. Facebook is where it’s at in terms of social networking just now; and surely there aren’t that many people claiming expertise without even trying it?

    I’m a firm believer (as, I’m sure, is anyone else reading this) in signing up for anything which seems to be getting traction. So I signed up for Facebook because I felt I had to, from a professional viewpoint. Only when I found myself logging in via mobile phone did I realise I’d made my personal judgement on it.

    It’s broadly the same reason why I’m sticking with Windows, where I’d probably rather be on a Mac. In a professional context, I don’t think I have a choice. The audience, and by extension the fee payers, make the choice for me.

    September 5, 2007
  8. Luis Suarez said:

    Thanks, Steve, for the clarification! For a minute I thought I had gone nuts or something on it, but I am glad that is sorted out. Oh, by the way, the WP experience is way much more enjoyable and customisable than anything else you may have been exposed to in the past and Akismet does a beautiful job in handling and killing spam.

    Right, back to the conversation though. Commenting further on Simon’s input. I am, too, one of those folks that would get to try out any of the different social software tools out there. Believe me, I have got plenty of profiles all over the place (Looking forward to the chance of ever having a universal social networking profile I can use all over the place!), but there is one thing that over the course of time I have become very weary about: my own Web presence and the privacy implied with it. And Facebook, whether people would like to admit it or not does a very lousy job at that. If not check out the story I shared about Matt Moore and his recent FB fiasco. That is not what a social network is meant for, imo.

    I agree with the incredibly potential of FB, but it would need to pull its act together and start working its way on protecting the privacy from its end-users. Do you think that if Facebook would have been developed in Germany, Italy or Austria it would be having these issues with privacy? I doubt it. I would have been then a huge fan from FB, but right now it just doesn’t cut it.

    September 5, 2007
  9. Steve Dale said:

    Luis – thanks for the tip on WP. I’ll probably make make the move, but will probably see out the duration of my account with Typepad.

    You make a good point on privacy, but some social networks are far worse than others. I don’t really have a problem with security on FB, and have yet to receive ant FB-related spam. The same can’t be said for a site called Quetchup – which Euan Semple blogged about the other day. That’s definitely one to avoid – unfortunately it’s too late for me. I joined for approx 5 minutes and am still living with the consequences!

    You might want to check out this article:

    September 6, 2007
  10. Luis Suarez said:

    Hi Steve! Yes, I can imagine the mess that Quetchup is causing, although I am not seeing much of it myself. It looks like people don’t care too much about getting e-mails from me or everything, because so far I haven’t been hit by it. Something that I am not sure whether I would be happy about it or not. To me, a clear indication that most of the folks I connect with are starting to move away from e-mail or rather they don’t want to have me added to their address books! heh 😛 Like I said, not a bad thing at all, because thanks to that I haven’t faced the mess :-O

    Regarding privacy on Facebook, I do have a serious set of issues with it. I think that when building up your profile there are a number of different questions that to me are far too much information for strangers out there to know. Even more when Google will start scanning profiles very shortly. Yes, I know that you can leave those fields blank or customised to a certain level of privacy, but then again that would imply to everyone else, specially those who do not know you just yet, that you may “have something” to “hide” if you don’t post an open profile or something.

    Paranoic? Probably, but, at least, I don’t have to go through the stress that, for instance, Matt Moore went through in his blog post detailing what a simple update in a certain area of your FB profile can do. Not sure about you, Steve, but I can do without it.

    Plus Google starting to tap into FB is going to make things even more interesting. I bet that plenty of people would have spent a whole bunch of time to make their profiles more “presentable”…

    September 7, 2007
  11. Dissident said:


    you may have a point re Facebook security. I was a little concerned when I read that Facebook was opening their servers to commercial search engines. However, taking all this to its logical conclusion, if you wanted to be absolutely secure, you wouldn’t join anything, or buy anything on-line. I guess we just need to be aware.

    Thanks for comments


    September 8, 2007
  12. Luis Suarez said:

    Thanks, Steve, for adding further up into the discussion. You bring up a very good point as to how secure you would want to be with making use of the various social networking sites available out there. I must say that I belong to a whole bunch of them and only Facebook is the one with which I feel rather uncomfortable making use of as a business tool per se. I guess my question is what benefits, from a business perspective, would folks find out if they would know my politicial affilation, when all of those folks who I get to collaborate rather closely with know that politics is one of those subjects I do not talk about online?

    Yes, I know, I can leave that part of the profile empty and everything, but that would already undermine people’s trust if I leave that field blank.

    And then again you have got blog posts like this one,, that clearly undermine the security of some other applications people may be using and which interact with Facebook.

    I agree with you that we just need to be aware on what’s going on, and, to me, FB needs to pull its act together big time before it can be taken as a serious social networking business tool. Hummm, now that I come to think about it… any major corporation out there increasingly recommending the usage of FB to stay in touch with their customers? I would love to know some examples. Perhaps they can convince me 😉

    September 9, 2007

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