When Facebook first became viral it was a real novelty, We could connect with friends who had moved away, we could announce social events and share photos with family and friends alike. When its creator developed the code he probably had no idea how successful the concept would become.
Fast forward to 2010 and Facebook is now almost 6 years old. I registered back in the early days but soon realised that a huge part of my day was spent reading pointless status updates, poking and superpoking friends, commenting on photos and playing poker. I witnessed my employees at the time spending time with facebook on their computer screens, we then had our IT people restrict access to the site on work computers only to then have employees using their mobile telephones to access Facebook instead!
So other than being an unacceptable invasion of privacy and a nuisance for employers what other effects is Facebook having on society?
When my ex wife had an affair that was responsible for the end of our marriage, I became aware of her infidelity by spotting unusual activity on her itemised mobile phone statement. This was the late 1990s and was a time when SMS text messaging was in a growth period. Everyone suddenly had a mobile telephone and so instant communication had become a part of everyday life and as a result affairs sky rocketed as people discovered as I did the extent of their partners activities.
Facebook is now the catalyst behind 20% of divorces. Lawyers have said that 1 in 5 divorce petitions contain Facebook references. That is a shocking figure that is only set to rise. More and more companies are now embracing the business opportunity that such an invasive venue provides. Facebook is able to target very specific demographics as it has access to location, age, income etc. It is almost impossible to escape being lured in to Facebook now, itunes have been running a "12 days of Christmas" promotion on the iphone that enables a free download of an app, movie, song etc for each day over christmas. In order to download the app you are encouraged to connect to Facebook, this I guess would then alert all your "friends" to what you have just downloaded and therefore trigger viral downloading by others.
The Viral aspect of Facebook is awesome. it really is an advertisers dream. Recently as you may know a Facebook user managed to use the viral power of Facebook to influence the Christmas number one song, no doubt to the amazement of Simon Cowell. Will society harness the people power that this exercise has demonstrated?
So what does the future hold for Facebook? Will it become a venue for just kids? Will people continue to publish their entire life in hour by hour segments for all to see? Who knows? It's all about clicks, getting clicks through to advertisers, that is how the whole thing works. In addition, we are by nature voyeuristic, that is why the program Big Brother is so successful. I can't help to worry about how dangerous it is to have people in your neighbourhood knowing your every move and thought. How many times have you surfed Facebook jumping from friends list to photo albums and back again simply being nosey about people who you know well or not so well? Rest assured, people are also poking their nose into your life too!