Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

The Social Wars

with 2 comments

Amen.  Rain has finally begun to fall in a bone dry Austin, Texas.

Yes, yes, I know, this as just east and north of here folks are worrying about the overtopping of the Mississippi River, the opposite problem.

But it’s been a crazy drought here in Texas, and although north Texas had garnered some rain the last few days, we were teased with droplets…until this morning. This morning it came falling from the heavens.

Let it rain.

Some clouds emerged over Facebook-land overnight as well as The Daily Beast’s Dan Lyons pens a bombshell of a story explaining how the social network secretly hired a PR firm to plant negative stories about Google and its privacy practices.

As we say here down south, well if that ain’t the pot callin’ the kettle black. Facebook hiring PR flack to denigrate Google over its poor privacy practices, particularly with its new Google Social Circle technology?

But Lyons digs deeper and suggests this is all about the data — namely, Google Social Circle pulling Facebook social graph data and repackaging it in Social Circle, much like it built Google News by repackaging news stories from hundreds of newspapers.

No, this is much, much more than about Internet privacy.  Billions of online ad dollars are at stake in the Google v. Facebook juggernaut, and on the face of this story, Facebook seems destined to dig deep into Google’s social dirt instead of continuing to fight the good fight where it belongs, with its development teams.

What’s laughable, in this case, is that the Facebook Goliath blinked at David before he’d even had his slingshot loaded. Many have been waiting for a viable social play or layer on the Google portfolio, and have grown red in the face waiting for them to deliver.

Then, at the first mention of a Google “social” something being introduced into the market, Facebook does a full on PR freak and heads over the hills into Mountain View, full iPad guns a blazin’.

At a time when anyone in their right mind and who follows this space and uses these tools would acknowledge Facebook was well ahead in the social race.  By a country mile.  A full NYC marathon’s length, even.

This mise en scene is worthy of some Shakespeare: “O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!”

Of course, that proved to be the beginning of the end of King Richard.  As for Facebook, perhaps this is simply the end of the beginning.

This all harkens back to one of the industry’s original power pivot battles, in which IBM was a bit player (pun definitely intended).

Some of you may remember that contest, Windows v. OS/2.

Later, in the middle 90s, it was Netscape v. Microsoft Internet Explorer. A whole Justice Department antitrust suit emanated from that pitched browser battle.

But, the curtain’s barely gone up on the twenty-teens and it looks like we could be in for a full on social war.

Break out the popcorn, put on your seat belt, and kick back — looks like we could be in for a long and bumpy ride as we wait to see who’s gonna defriend who!

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Written by turbotodd

May 12, 2011 at 2:30 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Nice post, Turbo. I learned something. And I’m pretty sure I’ve never before seen a Southern folk aphorism and a line by Shakespeare in the same article. Smooth.

    Michael Henry Starks

    May 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    • Thanks, Michael. I was definitely having flashbacks to the 1990s and monitoring the browser wars from the bullpen! The good ol’ days!

      Todd Watson

      May 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm


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