Whether it was The Social Network movie or the website’s habitual line-stepping on privacy issues, something has turned off over 7 million people to Facebook. Last month was not only the first in years that the social networking site didn’t get to enjoy an increase in active users, but was actually the first in years that saw a decline (7 million is the number that most sources have been coming out with).
Although CEO and de facto Princess of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is vehemently denying these numbers, they have yet to release their own “official” numbers, which is not doing much to help with their argument. Regardless of whether Facebook is really following the paths of friendster and myspace or if this is all just speculation like they want us to believe, it begs the question: would the world be better off without the social networking giant?
Last year, identity theft cases increased over 12%, due much in part to online scams like spyware and phishing on social networking sites. When you combine the facts that Facebook was the #1 most visited website in 2010, and has a constantly mutating privacy setting, there is no place better for scammers and hackers to “do business.” Even if you are cognizant enough to avoid phishing attempts when you enter your login info, the information on your page alone may be enough to lose you substantial amounts of money.
Facebook’s “open” approach to your information doesn’t just put your spam folder at greater risk of receiving more “business proposals” fromNigeriathan usual, but actual burglaries as well. Many burglars these days will create fake accounts and friend you (or simply read your page if you haven’t been keeping up with Facebook’s privacy setting A.D.D.) in order to find out your address, work schedule, when you’re leaving for vacation, etc. If you’re thinking, “But what are the chances of that, I only accept friend requests from people I know,” you should keep in mind that a study done in 2009 found that out of 200 test subjects, more than 40% accepted a friend request from a person they didn’t know. And yes, if you guessed that that random person was a 21 year old girl, then you guessed correctly.
So, what do you think? Will Facebook’s demise precede worldwide drops in rates of identity theft, burglaries, and annoying crap filling up your spam folders, or will another social network (*cough* Google) step up to take its place?