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I posted on Facebook and privacy the day after Facebook’s F8 Conference as a contrarian to the crowd hysteria.

Since then, I’ve been in numerous heated debates and found myself defending Facebook, then succumbing to annoyance over their adolescent behavior and momentarily siding with the crowd as the cavalier attitude of Facebook management became impossible to ignore.

But today, I still believe firmly as I did just post F8, that if you live in public, your life is just that…open to public record. And that acting responsibly is the coherent poise in a connected world. This responsibility is yours on the street, on Facebook, on blogs…everywhere

A BusinessWeek article lit up some interesting facts about Facebook worth thinking over:

  • Traffic is 4.7% higher today than it was on May 1
  • Facebook has 519.1M users, compared to 411M in September ‘09
  • User activity level is still very high. An average user creates over 70 pcs of content each per month and connects to 60 pages or groups
  • Facebook accounts for an astounding 8.5% of all Internet traffic

And as telling:

  • The We’re Quiting Facebook campaign scheduled for mass cord cutting on May 31 has only 16,000 (out of 520M) people signed up

So what’s going on?

The blogosphere, the press and common knowledge all point to a semi-repentant Mark Zuckerberg who is hiding behind his youth and bowing to the pressure of US and European governments and a zillion hate posts.

Let’s be clear here…Facebook is acting irresponsibly and toying with its member’s feelings and trust. And there is a grating disconnect for a social network to have such anti-social and anti-transparent management.

So many ostensibly hate them but numbers and activities are increasing dramatically. Something is wrong or at least out-of-whack.

My take on why we can’t love Facebook but can’t imagine not having it

Facebook as the definition of ‘social’ just got it right.

It’s an almost perfect product because it filled a need no one knew they had. And created a situation, like we have today, where not having Facebook is an impossible thought for I bet, hundreds of millions of people. Including myself.

Most of the angst towards Facebook is expressed on Facebook itself. The news we read or videos we see about the privacy issues, rants, ‘how-to’s’ on setting privacy settings, and on and on are all done on our Facebook wall itself. Kind of like hometown politics on the only paper that people read about things that happen on Main Street.

While I support Diaspora and open social development, Facebook is not going away anytime soon. It is not going to stop growing or being an essential part of how we view the world and interact unless Zuckerberg does something truly stupid…and stupid he is most certainly not.

Or till whatever the next iteration of social, maybe unimaginable now, pops up and we migrate with our friends to somewhere else.

Our networks of friends from kindergarten playmates to people we met through our kids or worked with or dated or want to meet will never be erased. Migrated and moved perhaps, but we simply need that Facebook magic touch with friends is now natural and organic and isn’t going away. Thankfully.

What has happened is that we don’t and really can’t love Facebook like many did before. Like many loved Apple or the Mac as a solution or our smart phones when we first got them before they broke the second time.

Facebook, though brilliant and essential and integral to social life, has lost that love cause it trifled with our trust big time. It was like Bill Clinton…Oh so brilliant and oh so flawed as an individual. I would vote for him again in a heartbeat but never be surprised at enormous acts of personal stupidity. We aren’t breaking up but we are suspicious forever.

What’s inspiring to me is that Facebook added something to human social interaction. Yes, it really it has, and that is why from a mass of people in the know and early adopters who are rightfully miffed, there are hundreds of millions and hundreds of thousands joining daily around the world. Some know, some don’t. Some care, some don’t. Doesn’t matter.

And to be clear, I still hold that we need to be responsible for our own images and act responsibly. Facebook didn’t change that and that will grow as we do into a more connected social age. But, and I mean this seriously, Facebook did belittle the very attribute it created. We can forgive this but forget or trust completely…not at all.

What is great is that technology has enabled an extension of community. A new iteration of social for us all. It allowed me and everyone to connect and define relationships in new and fun and empowering and important ways.

Today Facebook is essential to multitudes. What it empowered and created is not going away but Facebook itself may when something new evolves that builds on it and really does respect what it created.

Who cares about Facebook? No one.

But everyone cares about friendship and community and platforms to build that on.

Today, that is Facebook for a global population of over half a billion people. Where those people are in 5 or 10 years, is up in the air. The fact that sharing in communities is important and will persist is undeniable.

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