When giants collaborate, things happen. And they happen fast. When giants decide to go for world domination, the world had better look out. Here’s some news about the machinations of Twitter, Google and Facebook.
High stake bids by online giants
Google and Twitter – Truly, madly and deeply
Google and Twitter are in love. Google is set to start bringing Tweets into the search results, presumably in an effort to improve the freshness of the search results, given that Tweets are by nature ‘of the moment’.
With 9000 Tweets generated every second, it’s doubtful Google will index all of ’em. But we can expect to see Twitter content surfaced in the SERPs before long, whether it’s in the main SERP, in the sidebar or somewhere else altogether.
It also seems like a jolly good way for Google to discover content it hasn’t found yet. If a trending topic emerges they can choose to index new content in the certain knowledge people will appreciate and value it.
Data privacy concerns
With my data privacy head on, I’m hoping Twitter will provide ways to prevent Google from sharing content. So far Twitter has been a private space but their collaboration with the Big G blows things wide open. I might not want my Tweets shared with the outside world, or not all of them. I want choices.
How will it affect marketers?
From a marketing perspective it’s obvious Twitter is about to get a whole lot more important. We already suspect social sharing helps the search giant prioritise content in the search results. This collaboration means great Twitter performance is much more than a ‘nice to have’. It’s an essential. If you’re not Tweeting yet, climb on board. Since Google is still Britain’s most popular search engine, you’d be mad not to.
Facebook unveils world domination plans at F8
Facebook’s F8 conference in March revealed big changes to the network. It looks like they want to control everything we do online. If you don’t care about data privacy, you might want to think again. The list of areas they’re moving into, or have already moved into, is slightly scary.
- Social networking and messaging, for businesses and consumers
- New opportunities for developers to take the software in fresh directions
- Paid advertising plus ways to pay money to your friends and family
- Buying and selling goods and services
- Virtual reality, gaming, news and video
- The Parse development platform
- Your photos, through Facebook-owned Instagram
At least a billion people have Facebook accounts. And the social giant keeps delivering new ways to make our online lives easier and more seamless. Facebook can potentially deliver your content to more interested parties than anyone else. Their News Feed can deliver more engagement, clicks and views than anyone else. And news organisations know it. They’re falling over themselves to publish their stuff on the network. It’s all very clever and innovative. But what about the humble consumer?
Facebook already controls what you see
Most people don’t realise Facebook controls what they see and when. But it does, big time. Could the situation go horribly wrong? Well, yes. Imagine Facebook turns out to be the devil incarnate of our times. Will they be happy to publish negative stories about their own company? What if ‘they’ think your content is amoral or even amoral? Did you appoint Facebook as your moral guardian? It’s doubtful. But things could so easily go that way.
The big issue with this remarkable level of control is that Facebook can choose whether people will see your content, and how many will see it, according to a suite of implacable algorithmic rules we have no control over. If you’ve ever been exasperated by the state of your Facebook timeline, which seems to randomly choose what you’re allowed to see, from whom and when, you’ll already feel less than comfortable with the social network’s plans. Then there’s business. If Facebook can choose who sees your business content, where does that leave you if the monster machine ‘takes a dislike’ to you?
Too much like Big Brother for comfort?
With Messenger as a platform in its own right you’ll be able to do absolutely everything on Facebook. You won’t need to click away. Which means Facebook will own your private conversations as well as knowing what you’ve paid other people and what they’ve paid you. It’s beginning to sound a bit too much like Big Brother for comfort. Some even say it won’t be long before Facebook supersedes the might of Google, as many of the traditional reasons for using the search giant are being hijacked by the social network.
Facebook as ‘the internet’
More sinister still, if you live in a developing nation your first ever internet experience could well be of Facebook. And it’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid because they collaborate with Internet.org to deliver free access to education, government and other key services as well as the social network itself. If your first experience of the web is Facebook, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s actually the internet. And there’s very little or no competition in many areas of the world, leaving Facebook free to hoover up entire markets, burp and move on unchallenged.
What happens to fair economic competition?
In the real world it is rarely a good thing to have one massive mega-firm in control, with very little or no competition. That’s why, in Britain at least, we have a dedicated Competition and Markets Authority to make sure markets remain freely competitive, without undue influence from the big boys. It’s disturbing to see Facebook doing its thing without so much as a murmur.
More data privacy issues…
Last but not least there’s the data privacy issue. Ha, no surprise there, then! The social network already collects vast amounts of personal data gleaned from our online activity. Yesterday I wrote a couple of posts about urban fashion, covering harem trousers in some detail. Today my Facebook account contains ads for harem trousers. Last week I bought some picture frames on EBay. This week the self-same frames appeared in Facebook ads on my account. WTF?
As a marketer I understand the principles behind retargeting. But it seems like a lot of businesses are making a lot of money out of my data, anonymised or not. As I’ve said before, ad nauseum, I think I deserve payment. But that’s a whole other story.
What about you?
AOL road-tested online world domination in the 1990s and lost. But plenty of experts feel Facebook could succeed. Are you happy to relinquish control of your behavioural data? Do you even care about data privacy? Would you like to be compensated financially for the profits your data generates for businesses?