Mark ZuckerbergI give – I call.  I’m getting really tired over all the “I’m deleting my Facebook because they have gone corrupt” posts all over the place.  Some of the smartest minds in the industry (and those I respect most) are all doing it, even Leo Laporte, and it’s breaking my heart.  I don’t understand how any of these people can talk about Facebook with any grain of salt after this without some level of bias.  How can you talk legibly about Facebook from here on out if you’re not using the service?  How can you know how to compete properly if you’re not using your competitors’ products (ahem, Matt Cutts)?  How can you know whom to invest in unless you’re truly trying out all the biggest players in the game?  It doesn’t make sense to me.

Jason Calacanis wrote a scathing letter to his e-mail list today just ripping apart Mark Zuckerberg, coining a term I’m not sure I want to repeat here since it’s almost a curse word (okay, he coined the term, “Zucked”).  He called Zuckerberg a liar, a cheater, a backstabber, and even inferred he had Asperger’s-like tendencies (which anyone who has or knows someone with Asperger’s should be offended).  According to Calacanis:

“Zuckerberg represents the best and worst aspects of entrepreneurship.
His drive, skill and fearlessness are only matched by his long
record–recorded in lawsuit after lawsuit–of backstabbing, stealing
and cheating.”

I’ve heard elsewhere Zuckerberg compared to a Nazi, and other Facebook employees all “drinking the Kool-Aid” they were being served there.  I’ve been called names myself for supporting them.  I really feel bad for those at Facebook right now – quite honestly, as a company, despite their audience, they’re not that big!  Bullying them certainly isn’t going to help.

Let’s address the Zynga issue that Calacanis seems to be basing much of his letter on (the reason Calacanis calls Zuckerberg a liar and stealer).  As a Facebook developer myself, and having addressed, consulted and discussed with many very successful Facebook developers as both a consultant and author of Facebook development books (see the upper-right, and a Dummies book on the way), I’ve seen the pain of many, much more than just Zynga, that have been affected by what Calacanis is talking about.  Zynga is the last of the successful Facebook.com developers that managed to make millions by building applications on top of Facebook.com itself.  I know one  developer that went from 0 to 2 million users in just a couple weeks in the early days of Facebook.com – it was a mad GoldRush!

The problem, however is that none of these developers adapted.  Facebook gave them all the tools they needed to adapt and move outside the platform, and I’ve seen very few actually take Facebook up on that offer.  Facebook gave the hints that they were pushing in that direction and no one followed.  Zynga is just now realizing that as they build their own website – it’s the smart thing to do, and Facebook hasn’t abandoned them in the process.  Facebook, in fact, has pushed Zynga in that direction, offering tools, plugins, protocols, and many other ways of building outside the Facebook platform, while still enabling them to maintain their existing user base on Zynga.com itself.  Zynga’s finally doing the smart thing here, and Facebook wants that to happen!

The crazy thing here is Zynga probably has one of the closest relationships with Facebook of any Facebook developer I know.  Sure, Facebook is trying to make money off of what Zynga does in their own environment, but can you blame them?  It’s Facebook’s own environment.  They have every right to control their own IP, and every developer on the platform should know that by now – I’ve written about it many times.  Every company needs a core. I’m a little jealous of the relationship Zynga has built with Facebook though – there is no reason to feel bad for them.  And they’re now working on their own core as Facebook helps them through that process.  I don’t see anyone lying, cheating, or stealing from anyone here.  Is Facebook supposed to be giving their IP away?  I don’t get it.

Now let’s talk privacy.  Were you aware that Facebook actually gives users a chance to debate privacy policy changes when they go into place?  For every change to Facebook’s terms that goes into place, users have the opportunity to complain, react, and share their feelings in whatever manner they feel necessary about new changes put into place.  The November policy changes (which were probably the biggest recent change) were proposed here (if you really have problems with the Privacy changes you really should subscribe to the updates, that is, unless you’re no longer a Facebook user):

“Facebook has proposed an updated privacy policy. We encourage you to view the proposal and offer your comments here <http://www.facebook.com/fbsitegovernance?v=app_4949752878> by 12:00 PM PDT on November 5, 2009. For future policy updates, become a fan of the Facebook Site Governance Page.”

When this was proposed, users were overwhelmingly for the changes.  Comments were overwhelmingly in a positive tone, resulting in the changes being adopted.  Had users complained back then, the changes would not have gone into place.  This is actually the same process that got Beacon reversed.  New changes were again proposed on March 26, shortly before F8, when the OpenGraph initiative was announced.  Users again overwhelmingly supported the changes, and on April 22, the new changes were accepted.  It was on April 23 that Matt Cutts, and others deleted their Facebook accounts – I’m very curious if they even tried to make their concerns known on the Site Governance site.  It should also be noted that Facebook issued press releases for each of these proposed updates – Mashable covered it.  ReadWriteWeb covered it.  So did TechCrunch, in vivid detail.

So I don’t get it – Facebook is opening up more than they have ever before (despite these same people calling them a Walled Garden before).  They’re the only site out there with a policy in place that actually lets users vote on privacy and policy changes.  They’re the only site out there with the ability to provide any level of granularity towards privacy (did you know you can specify specific groups, exclude specific individuals and groups, and get very specific with exactly who sees your status updates on Facebook?  That’s only the beginning.).  Facebook seems to be making all the right moves, yet they’re Nazis.  They’re liars.  They’re cheaters.  They’re stealers.  All this doesn’t compute!  I don’t see Google doing any of this.  And talk about taking developers out of business – Google’s the biggest culprit of all!

I’m sorry Jason, but calling names isn’t how you win Poker either.  It’s time we start encouraging Facebook’s moves, hoping they continue this momentum to become more open.  It’s time we start educating users that they get to vote on this stuff before it goes live (which they did!).  It’s time we start helping to get the word out to users on what is private and what is not in their Facebook accounts now that the changes have gone into place.

I’m sorry, but I’m getting sick of all the bloggers and so-called “experts” complaining about this when they didn’t do anything to stop it in the first place.  This, especially, when we’re given so many options!  Right now they’re all starting to sound like a bunch of complainers to me.  Am I really the only one that sees this?  I feel like I’m the only one writing about it.  Maybe it’s time I fold, or is everyone else just bluffing?