OoTheNigerian

sometimes, I make a lot of sense.

An Open Letter To Mark Zuckerberg: “Don’t Do A Mugabe To Facebook”

18 May 2010 by Oo

Dear Zucky,

In recent weeks, the tech news has been awash with so much negative PR of your company due to the recent changes made at Facebook, and some stunts you are pulling. I have not seen a consistent public vilification of a single person since Tiger Woods. Your users are really really pissed with you. The amount of money Diaspora has raised has shown you something, people are prepared to pay to take down Facebook. My man, this is not a good thing. I am writing this letter to you as a fan of the great company Facebook which you have built. My love for and belief in Facebook led be to write an earlier blog post in which I suggested ways Facebook can make money when the world said you guys were struggling to make some dough. This letter is my own effort to prevent you from doing a Mugabe* to your wonderful company with so much potential.

Privacy Changes

viewing the  source of the image below shows clearly the radical privacy evolution Facebook has undergone. There are few things I would like to point out.

Your browser may not support display of this image.

When I joined Facebook in the earlier days (2007), I was required to indicate how I knew the person I was adding. If I was not sure Facebook advised against it. Fast forward to today, I am continuously peddled the profiles of people whom I have no friends in common with on my 1, 953 Facebook friends list.

At your Facebook developer conference years ago, you claimed what kept you up at night was allowing people have the ability to as much privacy as possible while sharing what they wanted to whom they wanted. Fast forward to this year’s f8, where you said while your friends played and thought of being lawyers and doctors when they grew up, what was on your mind was how to make everyone’s information accessible to each other. Now, that is the greatest turn around since GW Bush Sr. said “Read my lips, no new taxes” then of course we all know what happened.

The open graph, the like button, instant personalization and Privacy

In your quest to bring in revenue to justify your 716 million investment and keep Facebook afloat, you have decided to introduce the greatest advertising scheme* since Google, the like button. That move alone has put your competitors on a massive offensive. Your so called making the web ‘social by default’ is just a smokescreen to monitor the browsing habits of your over 400million users.  Don’t you think you should explain this clearly to your users?

* If you are logged into Facebook and you visit this site and any site (CNN, Pandora, Techcrunch porn sites :) ) that has implemented the like button (you do not need to visit the site from Facebook) Facebook knows of this and stores it. Since it has more information about you than yourself, they can deliver a better targeted advertising to you on those websites than Google. If you are an advertiser, who will you advertise with?

Stealing Fan Pages

What’s with the recent decision to seize popular (formally fan) pages and turn them to community pages? It is bad enough you make us pay to send traffic to your site but to go ahead and reward us for making our fan pages a success by seizing them is a very terrible strategy. It is wrong and very improper. If you claim the user should not have created the fan page in the first place, why do you not seize the less successful ones? What happens to the money the person used to promote the fan page all these years?

Facebook is not a charity and is in business to make money.

I fully understand the pressure you have been under to justify the huge investments made into you company. I would also be desperate to make a good return on investment especially having collected 200 million dollars from some Russian dudes. I completely understand all these recent moves are in a quest to squeeze out some juice. But while you go seeking that cash, I would like to point out that you seem to have forgotten some core principles that make great companies great. You have forgotten that with great power comes great responsibility. You cannot justify making changes that would affect 400 million people without regards to what they think or feel. I believe people are not necessarily  upset with the lack of privacy but the inconsistency of the rules of participation on Facebook. You told people it was ok to put pictures of their little sons and daughters an share it with only family members only to let the pictures become public and get them indexed by Google and co.

The most important asset of any company is not their engineers who can always leave but the goodwill and  trust of their customers and people. Zucky, you are recklessly betraying the trusts of your users which I think is very very risky. You should realize you are no longer seen as the teenager that built a popular website but an adult trying to take over the world.

So how then can Facebook make money?

On Facebook, the users are the products while advertisers are the customers.

I completely agree that Facebook has the right to make money but you see, Facebook’s products users are living things and can vote with their mouse.you cannot peddle them to advertisers without regard for what they think or how they feel. The question I will ask is have you tried making your users customers and they refused? Let me once again suggest ways I think Facebook can make money. First of all give your users the choice to become customers, which means providing premium services they would like to pay for.  Some premium services I think might be successful would be

  1. Sell Privacy: Yup. Make Facebook public by default and allow users customers to make any privacy adjustments they want. If it is that important, they will pay for it. The risk is that it might seem like blackmail so you could couple the offering with other premium features.
  2. Unlimited friends: Give customers the option to have unlimited friends.
  3. No Ads: Allow premium customers the ability to block ads.
  4. Priority news feed. Guarantee the delivery of news to premium users’ friends. Majority of users have no idea that many people do not see their stories.
  5. HQ photos: Yes, high quality photos.
  6. A ‘’premium badge’: Human beings are egoistical, people will become premium users just for this.
  7. Fan page owners can actually reply fans. you can make that feature premium only

I am sure you will find millions of people willing to pay $9.99 a year for these features. You currently do not make $9.99 per user so this will be a bad ass return. More so, you would have the conscience to aggressively monetize the users that would rather remain products nor customers.

Like I said in the beginning, I hope you do not do a Mugabe to your company. You are light in our generation and I would really be sat to see that light become and uncontrollable fire that has to be put out. I wish you l the best as you tackle the latest firestorm.

Regards,

Oo Nwoye, (OoTheNigerian)

*Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe and independence hero successfully made his country’s economy the best in Africa, then made it the worst.

49 comments | Categories: Technology | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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  • http://www.edwardbenson.com Edward Benson

    Well said, Oo. Particularly this sentence “On Facebook, the users are the products while advertisers are the customers.” I don't think I've seen it put so succinctly, but more people need to realize this.

    Have you read danah boyd's article on Facebook as a utility? An interesting read.

  • http://www.edwardbenson.com Edward Benson

    Well said, Oo. Particularly this sentence “On Facebook, the users are the products while advertisers are the customers.” I don't think I've seen it put so succinctly, but more people need to realize this.

    Have you read danah boyd's article on Facebook as a utility? An interesting read.

  • http://www.edwardbenson.com Edward Benson

    Well said, Oo. Particularly this sentence “On Facebook, the users are the products while advertisers are the customers.” I don't think I've seen it put so succinctly, but more people need to realize this.

    Have you read danah boyd's article on Facebook as a utility? An interesting read.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Hi Edward, that is what advertising models are all about. Other companies like Yahoo and Google treat their products right though. I think Zucky has really put himself and the company in a tight position. I believed he has reached too far this time. I think they will recover tough.

    Thanks for the Boyds article, it make a lot of good points.

    PS: I am not the original author of that quote though. I saw it somewhere but I cannot remember.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Hi Edward, that is what advertising models are all about. Other companies like Yahoo and Google treat their products right though. I think Zucky has really put himself and the company in a tight position. I believed he has reached too far this time. I think they will recover tough.

    Thanks for the Boyds article, it make a lot of good points.

    PS: I am not the original author of that quote though. I saw it somewhere but I cannot remember.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Hi Edward, that is what advertising models are all about. Other companies like Yahoo and Google treat their products right though. I think Zucky has really put himself and the company in a tight position. I believed he has reached too far this time. I think they will recover tough.

    Thanks for the Boyds article, it make a lot of good points.

    PS: I am not the original author of that quote though. I saw it somewhere but I cannot remember.

  • http://www.mycountryjobs.com Segun

    Your money making ideas for Facebook is not good for people in developing countries.

  • http://www.mycountryjobs.com Segun

    Your money making ideas for Facebook is not good for people in developing countries.

  • http://www.mycountryjobs.com Segun

    Your money making ideas for Facebook is not good for people in developing countries.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Why do you say so? I believe premium features are optional and for only those that think they need it.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Why do you say so? I believe premium features are optional and for only those that think they need it.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Why do you say so? I believe premium features are optional and for only those that think they need it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jiroclothing 'Malik Jiro

    Facebook starts a premium paying service and we all move to twitter (even if its boring). My opinion

  • http://www.facebook.com/jiroclothing 'Malik Jiro

    Facebook starts a premium paying service and we all move to twitter (even if its boring). My opinion

  • http://www.facebook.com/jiroclothing 'Malik Jiro

    Facebook starts a premium paying service and we all move to twitter (even if its boring). My opinion

  • http://www.adesojiadegbulu.com Adesoji Adegbulu

    You are very right on this !

  • http://www.adesojiadegbulu.com Adesoji Adegbulu

    You are very right on this !

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Jiro, so if Facebook gives people willing to pay money EXTRA features, you will leave the free features have given you?

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Jiro, so if Facebook gives people willing to pay money EXTRA features, you will leave the free features have given you?

  • http://www.jeffgibbard.com/ JGibbard

    This is one of the best articles I've read on the FB privacy situation yet. I love the idea of the Premium features. I already have a Flickr Pro account because to me, it's worth it. I would pay for Facebook to become what I want it to be.

  • http://www.jeffgibbard.com/ JGibbard

    This is one of the best articles I've read on the FB privacy situation yet. I love the idea of the Premium features. I already have a Flickr Pro account because to me, it's worth it. I would pay for Facebook to become what I want it to be.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Exactly! People pay when they see value. Thanks for your compliment.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Exactly! People pay when they see value. Thanks for your compliment.

  • http://denise.dreamwidth.org/ Denise

    This is why monetizing social media through advertising is doomed to failure: either it won't work for a small property, or persuades a big property to behave like Facebook and drive users away.

    Sites really, really need to start looking at better revenue-generating models.

  • http://denise.dreamwidth.org/ Denise

    This is why monetizing social media through advertising is doomed to failure: either it won't work for a small property, or persuades a big property to behave like Facebook and drive users away.

    Sites really, really need to start looking at better revenue-generating models.

  • http://abiolaomoniyideveloper.blogspot.com/ abiola

    Great article, however trust me OO, the moment Facebook announces that they want to start charging for premium services, the social media sharks (google, msn, yahoo) will be ready with completely free offerings and no elitist type premium user/normal user setup

    Besides it appears its only the professional bloggers, tech pros and writers that really have a problem with how facebook makes their money, most users like me with 200 – 600 friends just want a place where we can hook up and keep up to date with old friends. Facebook does that exceedingly well and for free. I don't need the extras e.g fan page, HQ photos etc etc

    I don't think Facebook should rock the boat with premium services. They can't afford to, there is just too much competition out there.

  • http://abiolaomoniyideveloper.blogspot.com/ abiola

    Great article, however trust me OO, the moment Facebook announces that they want to start charging for premium services, the social media sharks (google, msn, yahoo) will be ready with completely free offerings and no elitist type premium user/normal user setup

    Besides it appears its only the professional bloggers, tech pros and writers that really have a problem with how facebook makes their money, most users like me with 200 – 600 friends just want a place where we can hook up and keep up to date with old friends. Facebook does that exceedingly well and for free. I don't need the extras e.g fan page, HQ photos etc etc

    I don't think Facebook should rock the boat with premium services. They can't afford to, there is just too much competition out there.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    But Flickr charges for premium services. I really don't get the argument that if Facebook gives EXTRA for a little fee, you guys will abandon the free one you are given?

    “Besides it appears its only the professional bloggers, tech pros and writers that really have a problem with how facebook makes their money, most users like me with 200 – 600 friends just want a place where we can hook up and keep up to date with old friends.”

    Who will pay salaries and server costs? Tech writers are concerned because they understand if Facebook does not make money it will fold up. It is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE to run Facebook.

    “Facebook does that exceedingly well and for free.”

    Well for you but not the company.

    “I don't need the extras e.g fan page, HQ photos etc etc”

    Exactly, which is why you are not required to pay for it. Only those that view it as worthy should pay if they can afford it.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    But Flickr charges for premium services. I really don't get the argument that if Facebook gives EXTRA for a little fee, you guys will abandon the free one you are given?

    “Besides it appears its only the professional bloggers, tech pros and writers that really have a problem with how facebook makes their money, most users like me with 200 – 600 friends just want a place where we can hook up and keep up to date with old friends.”

    Who will pay salaries and server costs? Tech writers are concerned because they understand if Facebook does not make money it will fold up. It is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE to run Facebook.

    “Facebook does that exceedingly well and for free.”

    Well for you but not the company.

    “I don't need the extras e.g fan page, HQ photos etc etc”

    Exactly, which is why you are not required to pay for it. Only those that view it as worthy should pay if they can afford it.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Thanks for the article.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Thanks for the article.

  • DrAW!

    This is indeed one of the best articles I have seen on the issue.
    I like all the ideas for making money…except the first.
    Selling privacy at this stage would be tantamount to an e-mail provider charging a fee whenever one receives an e-mail. I however have this sinking feeling that we are so addicted to the Facebook drug, we are ready to sell out a little privacy for it. Next, our souls :(

  • DrAW!

    This is indeed one of the best articles I have seen on the issue.
    I like all the ideas for making money…except the first.
    Selling privacy at this stage would be tantamount to an e-mail provider charging a fee whenever one receives an e-mail. I however have this sinking feeling that we are so addicted to the Facebook drug, we are ready to sell out a little privacy for it. Next, our souls :(

  • RU

    Nice. Thing is that the guys @ facebook do not seem to understand how the 'perception' game works. I think it is a demonstration of naiveté to assume that you can make no effort to conceal the fact that your goal is world domination and not take some pretty serious hits. If they dont evolve, I can assure you, facebook will go extinct in just a matter of time.

  • RU

    Nice. Thing is that the guys @ facebook do not seem to understand how the 'perception' game works. I think it is a demonstration of naiveté to assume that you can make no effort to conceal the fact that your goal is world domination and not take some pretty serious hits. If they dont evolve, I can assure you, facebook will go extinct in just a matter of time.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Hehe! I think our souls are safe…for now :D

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    Hehe! I think our souls are safe…for now :D

  • DrAW!

    I've written a note on Facebook :p
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=396

  • DrAW!

    I've written a note on Facebook :p
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=396

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    I think they showed their hand too early. I hope they recover from this blunder.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    I think they showed their hand too early. I hope they recover from this blunder.

  • Joy

    In one word…YES. We will leave or more accurately migrate over time to another service that gives us what we want for free. It won't be immediate but two years from the moment they begin to charge, Facebook will be the new MySpace.

    At this point it would just be insulting to do that. Facebook would literally be destroying people's pages who decided not to upgrade or putting them totally on blast. You have to remember those “premium” services you talk about are all free now and people have very sensitive information on their page that they put up and hide from some (the world and even certain friends) for various reasons. What happens on the day the changes are implemented and that person decided not to pay. What happens if that person hasn't' checked their FB in two months. No, I have to say that would be a nail in the coffin move just from the initial outrage alone. Not to mention their potential competition would seize that opportunity in a minute. I can totally imagine Google getting in the game at that point and you pretty much know once that happens it's over for FB. Google actually knows how to go about taking the world over in a way that somehow doesn't SEEM too intrusive. Go figure…

    I agree that FB is going in the wrong direction here and they need to fix this. I like the idea of paying not to have ads show up on your page. Based on their apparent business model however I don't think that would work for them as their users (or products) are probably more valuable to advertisers without that type of service. Being able to offer 400 mil users has much more profit potential than 300 mil with the potential of the #'s dwindling even further.

    The scary thing is I think the direction they're going in know I think is also evil genius. If they are not stopped immediately at some point it will be too late. They would have too much information, they would have made too many inroads and we'd be too dependent on them to give them up. Think GOOGLE.

  • Joy

    In one word…YES. We will leave or more accurately migrate over time to another service that gives us what we want for free. It won't be immediate but two years from the moment they begin to charge, Facebook will be the new MySpace.

    At this point it would just be insulting to do that. Facebook would literally be destroying people's pages who decided not to upgrade or putting them totally on blast. You have to remember those “premium” services you talk about are all free now and people have very sensitive information on their page that they put up and hide from some (the world and even certain friends) for various reasons. What happens on the day the changes are implemented and that person decided not to pay. What happens if that person hasn't' checked their FB in two months. No, I have to say that would be a nail in the coffin move just from the initial outrage alone. Not to mention their potential competition would seize that opportunity in a minute. I can totally imagine Google getting in the game at that point and you pretty much know once that happens it's over for FB. Google actually knows how to go about taking the world over in a way that somehow doesn't SEEM too intrusive. Go figure…

    I agree that FB is going in the wrong direction here and they need to fix this. I like the idea of paying not to have ads show up on your page. Based on their apparent business model however I don't think that would work for them as their users (or products) are probably more valuable to advertisers without that type of service. Being able to offer 400 mil users has much more profit potential than 300 mil with the potential of the #'s dwindling even further.

    The scary thing is I think the direction they're going in know I think is also evil genius. If they are not stopped immediately at some point it will be too late. They would have too much information, they would have made too many inroads and we'd be too dependent on them to give them up. Think GOOGLE.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    I agree that selling privacy at this time is too late and the backlash will be massive. But I am confident if new features are created for premium users nobody will go anywhere.

    “Based on their apparent business model however I don't think that would work for them as their users (or products) are probably more valuable to advertisers without that type of service.”

    I doubt that the value of each user to Facebook per year is $10 dollars. If that is the case they will bring $4.5bn in revenue this year.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    I agree that selling privacy at this time is too late and the backlash will be massive. But I am confident if new features are created for premium users nobody will go anywhere.

    “Based on their apparent business model however I don't think that would work for them as their users (or products) are probably more valuable to advertisers without that type of service.”

    I doubt that the value of each user to Facebook per year is $10 dollars. If that is the case they will bring $4.5bn in revenue this year.

  • Joy

    In one word…YES. We will leave or more accurately migrate over time to another service that gives us what we want for free. It won't be immediate but two years from the moment they begin to charge, Facebook will be the new MySpace.

    At this point it would just be insulting to do that. Facebook would literally be destroying people's pages who decided not to upgrade or putting them totally on blast. You have to remember those “premium” services you talk about are all free now and people have very sensitive information on their page that they put up and hide from some (the world and even certain friends) for various reasons. What happens on the day the changes are implemented and that person decided not to pay. What happens if that person hasn't' checked their FB in two months. No, I have to say that would be a nail in the coffin move just from the initial outrage alone. Not to mention their potential competition would seize that opportunity in a minute. I can totally imagine Google getting in the game at that point and you pretty much know once that happens it's over for FB. Google actually knows how to go about taking the world over in a way that somehow doesn't SEEM too intrusive. Go figure…

    I agree that FB is going in the wrong direction here and they need to fix this. I like the idea of paying not to have ads show up on your page. Based on their apparent business model however I don't think that would work for them as their users (or products) are probably more valuable to advertisers without that type of service. Being able to offer 400 mil users has much more profit potential than 300 mil with the potential of the #'s dwindling even further.

    The scary thing is I think the direction they're going in know I think is also evil genius. If they are not stopped immediately at some point it will be too late. They would have too much information, they would have made too many inroads and we'd be too dependent on them to give them up. Think GOOGLE.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo OoTheNigerian

    I agree that selling privacy at this time is too late and the backlash will be massive. But I am confident if new features are created for premium users nobody will go anywhere.

    “Based on their apparent business model however I don't think that would work for them as their users (or products) are probably more valuable to advertisers without that type of service.”

    I doubt that the value of each user to Facebook per year is $10 dollars. If that is the case they will bring $4.5bn in revenue this year.