A number of high-profile web industry leaders have quit Facebook this week, a turn of events that’s sure to heat up conversation about the social network’s perceived transgressions. Tonight leading video podcaster Leo Laporte announced that he’s closed his Facebook account and made a financial donation in support of Diaspora, a project working to create an alternative social network outside of Facebook’s control.
Laporte said he was convinced to make the move by a post written by entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, in which Calacanis called Facebook a "monster" and called for users to throw their support behind OpenID and advocates of distributed social networking as open as the internet. Calacanis to date has not canceled his own Facebook account.
Earlier this week, uber-blogger Peter Rojas, co-founder of Engadget and Gizmodo, announced on Twitter that he has deactivated his Facebook account. "The issue," he said, "is that users should have real control over what is shared, that’s all. FB keeps taking that away."
Last month a number of Google employees made high-profile exits from Facebook, though as employees of Facebook’s leading competitor their departures are a little more complicated.
A search on Twitter for deactivated Facebook turns up a number of interesting thoughts from other people doing just that, though it’s hardly a torrent of quitters in the face of more than 400 million Facebook users.
Deactivating or deleting your Facebook account is a fairly drastic step for a self-promoter to take, and it’s not clear where these people were when OpenID and the movement for distributed social networking had their biggest pushes over the last several years. But now the chorus of Facebook critics is getting very loud.
What an Alternative Might Look Like
An ideal alternative would probably not be a single replacement social network, but the creation of an interoperable social networking protocol. That way multiple vendors would compete based on quality of service and would keep each other honest, while still allowing users of different services to message and subscribe to each other much like customers of different phone carriers can call each other.
That’s many the ideal alternative many people have proposed to a near monopoly over mainstream social networking by Facebook. Of all the biggest 2nd-tier social networks currently online, Google Buzz is most in line with this vision of standards-based interoperability.
Arguing Privacy With Facebook
We’ve argued at length for months that Facebook is wrong about privacy. A thorough counter-argument is made on the New York Times today by Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy at Facebook. Unfortunately, Mr. Schrage continues trying to frame the new changes as increased control for users and everything as opt-in (you chose to use the service, after all!).
-Post adapted from RWW