I feel I’ve been giving Facebook a bit of an easy time recently; I’ve hardly mentioned it on Law Actually at all. So what the hell, let’s make up for it now. But don’t worry – I’m not just going to berate them for the fun of it – there’s actually genuine news developments going on here.
Facebook [finally] Protects the Kids
"Social networking service Facebook has agreed to institute a broad set of policies aimed at protecting young users from online predators and offensive content. The change, which comes at the request of 49 US state attorneys, will require a bit of behavioral technology to weed out those who really are 18 years old from those who are clearly 49."
It’s not entirely clear whether this policy will be rolled out to all countries in time or whether it’s going to remain solely a ‘US thing’. While I sincerely hope it proves to be the former, either way, this development is at least two years too late. I’ve been clamouring for this for so long, I’m kind of shocked it’s finally happened.
Microsoft looks to snap up Facebook
Since the whole Yahoo takeover will-they, won’t-they went belly-up this earlier this week, Microsoft have been busy licking their lips, contemplating which other company to sink their teeth into. Well, now it seems they’ve turned their sights to Facebook.
As it turns out, Microsoft already own a stake in Facebook – 1.6% to be exact. Paying $240 million for that paltry slice back in 2007, it puts a value on the company of $15 billion. Yeah, you read that correctly. I don’t get it either.
As Paul Thurrott points out in his Wininfo article:
“Few believe Facebook is worth anywhere near that, however. The site currently has about 109 million unique visitors a month, making it the fifth most-visited Web property after Google (625 million), Microsoft (563 million), Yahoo! (505 million), and MySpace (117 million).
While Facebook's numbers are up dramatically year over year, the company has faltered in its bid to monetize its popularity. Facebook makes very little via advertising, and half of its revenues from 2007 were derived directly from Microsoft's investment.”
Buying Facebook doesn’t appear to be a very logical back-up plan. Okay, they might be looking to score a home run with the social networking side of things but what else does it give Microsoft? The Yahoo acquisition would have given Redmond a substantial leg-up across a broad range on online technologies to help them better compete with Google. After all, that’s the whole reason they’re doing this in the first place. But what do they get with Facebook? It makes very little money, is already a fairly mature and full-featured social networking tool and, remains at risk of falling out of favour in the social networking world. After all, people get bored easily with online technologies; while they’re flying high at the moment, who’s to say it’ll last?