Over the last few months, if not a couple of years now many people have been saying that social networking sites like Facebook will destroy the internet as we know it.
The perceived wisdom is that the internet will become segmented and fragmented with just a few huge social networks controlling the surfing habits of their loyal paying followers.
The evidence for this is becomes more and more compelling as we watch the subscriber numbers for sites like Facebook and Twitter grow exponentially. To the point we think that no-one visits other sites any more.
Then of course we hear of the ISPs getting into bed with the search engine providers and routers buddying up with both. Facebook and Bing ganging up on the competition we hear will kill the internet. And now we hear that Facebook is gearing up to be everyone's home page.
As the operator of an independent site I thought I’d look at how this really stacks up.
So, I ‘Googled’ and ‘Binged’ the word ‘mortgage’, this is one of the heavier used search terms. Know what? No result on the first page of either Google or Bing for a social network article for this word.
Next I tried ‘social network.’ Guess what? Under Bing no mention of a social networking site on the first page, but Google had Facebook, Myspace and YouTube from number six down. Makes you think about comparing the openness of them both doesn’t it?
So I thought let’s try a different tack and search for ‘I want to meet new friends’. Guess what? None of the really well-known social sites came up on either.
It then dawned on me that these big social networking sites rely totally on a healthy free internet to function and maybe even exist.
Without the access to original and thought-provoking stuff from bloggers, newspapers and other contributors these sites could not function. It is merely an advanced form of internet ‘aggregation’, nothing more.
Facebook et al want to earn from advertising while unsuspecting users drag other peoples’ original work onto their pages. Or they want people to contribute free work while they profit. That may suit charities etc, but for many others that is not a positive.
What if all those people and sites that, at this moment think Facebook is doing them a favour by showing their content, decided to withdraw their consent? The upshot would be nothing of note to talk about on Facebook and boredom would quickly follow as people hunted down the source material.
Just think, one bad meal can turn long term patrons away from any restaurant.
This is where sites like ‘Yuwie’ may come to be the future. Although relatively small at present they do pay people to do what they do for free on Facebook. The secret is that they are committed to share the advertising revenue with users. That is they are effectively doing what other social networking sites don’t do. They reward contributors for original thought provoking material.
Makes you think, doesn't it?