Facebook is quickly becoming the biggest platform in the world. I have a serious problem with that. I don’t mind Facebook becoming a successful and profitable platform. I do mind that their current scale lets them dictate what the web will look like for all of us.
Facebook is getting its tentacles into areas far beyond their original focus, connecting people. Instead of a walled garden site they are quickly becoming a walled garden platform. They are now big enough to compete with anything on the outside. Either by copying (Friendfeed) or just plainly buying any possible successful innovative company (did I mention Friendfeed already?). It’s like a big black hole sucking everything in, and never letting it out again.
And now there is the possibility of a Facebook browser (mentioned here, and here). It’s a smart move backed by some very powerful and smart people. Building a new browser is hard, but the real hard part is getting it distributed. And that is where Facebook can now play a big role. It’s got some 300M users, becoming a possible powerful distribution source for new services. A browser, tailored to the needs of Facebook users would make sense. It would likely distribute fast across the Facebook platform.
I’m troubled by the idea that 300M+ users in the near future might not realize there is a web beyond that of Facebook. I do not like the idea of one huge Facebook dictating to us what the web will look like. It’s the biggest walled garden out there, and there seems no stopping its growth.
I think that is the main reason why people tend to find Google more sympathetic than Facebook. While Facebook tries to redefine the web to its own platform, forcing both users and developers in, never letting them out. Google adds value to each part of the web, and in most cases tries to open it up as far as it can for its users and developers. Google’s walled garden is the planet and beyond, Facebook is the walled garden, Big difference.
Facebook has become a much more powerful and penetrated platform than AOL ever was. But I hope this growth will stop. I don’t want a single company to decide for me what the web looks like. I want an ecology of companies competing and cooperating, making our experience better and better. Without asking us to give up the one thing that is precious to us. Our freedom.
Facebook is the biggest walled garden there is. I think it’s big enough already, what do you think?