Over the last one year we have seen Facebook become the de’facto standard of online identity, its like a passport for the internet. From blogs to huge services sites (like Bing, Yahoo Mail etc). have adopted and deeply integrated Facebook features into them. Facebook currently has a social graph which all the competitors can only envy of.
Networking online and Interaction layer on Facebook is just a hook. The real deal here is getting users to put data on Facebook on pretext of managing our networks, personality projection etc. While this is happening, users have knowingly or unknowingly surrendered tremendous amount of personal data to Facebook. With some degree of assertiveness, I think its fair to say that Facebook knows more information about us than any one else. It knows our Email IDs, our Personal Numbers, who our Relatives and friends are, our education background-universities, address etc. If careful analytics are performed with the data in Facebook can estimate patterns; Like what time do we sleep (using active timings), who are the persons or people we are most interested in (likes, comments, profile views). With updates, messages, links we share on Facebook with the help of advanced algorithms and psychology analysis one can predict/map a person’s probable responses and reactions.
Facebook is now in a place where no tech company has ever been, with Facebook still getting started with possibilities, which potentially can be life changing. For instance a product like Skype which took few years to take off, would have been an instant hit if they were in possession of Facebook Social Graph. The biggest challenge for any application or service is getting the end user to sign up for an account. This is where the power of owning a social graph kicks in. The moment you download the application and sign in with your Facebook account, we would have all the contacts in place, one doesn’t have to send invites etc to add people to lists etc. Social Graphs are also changing the way business look at marketing, how check-ins to places like Starbucks can be used to serve as ads to friends.
Also the accumulated date can be utilized in multiple ways, for example a university application doesn’t have to be filled. As soon as we login using Facebook, the university form can completely make use of the entire data available in our profile. Details like Date of Birth, Address, Contact Number, E-Mail ID, Education History, Employment History can be filled with a single click of a button.
One of the biggest Advantage which facebook has over other online login systems is that a Facebook profile is seen as a person not as a profile. This may be a little hard for me explain, but let me try.
How how are the two different email ID connected? The answer is they are not, the two email IDs do not share any logical relation. In a Yahoo! or Gmail address book the data is not dynamic. If your friend changed his phone number, the change is not reflected until the address book is corrected. For the data to accurate here, the following two step process is required
1. The changed number needs to be communicated.
2. Effort should be made to keep the phone number updated.
Imagine how tedious would it be for someone to maintain an error free and accurate address book. But with Facebook the address-book problem is taken of, with out any intervention or maintenance. The relationship between two profiles makes it easier for Data to easy, effortless, clean and noise free.
Last four years for Facebook was all about building the Social Graph, now that they have it, I am quite exited with what Facebook can offer in future. That being said I am also quite concerned with the potential for misuse with all personal data surrendered (by us) to a single online entity.