Is Facebook Killing the Internet?

As a disclaimer, I use Facebook. I don’t hate it in any way. But all of the problem FB is having over privacy make me ponder where the Internet is heading. The more I think about it, the more I am concerned that Facebook might be making the web less social.

When we started this site, the goal was to keep an eye on emerging stuff that could be used in education.  In recent years, there have been very few new sites to rave about, and thus many contributors have run out of ideas for posts.  Now it is just me (although I am open to others joining me if they wish). And I am running out of new sites and ideas to post about.

The problem is that everyone is trying to be the next Facebook.  You used to have all of these sites trying new ideas and angles on many things, and then Facebook took off so fact that everyone just decided they wanted to be the next Facebook.  And I don’t mean the next interactive social site that brings people together in a new way… I mean the next Facebook clone.

So, in many ways, Facebook seems to have killed innovation online.  Of course, that happens in most industries – people see one company make it big, so they decide to follow blindly.

But this whole privacy thing is another issue.  People are really up in arms about it, and I can’t say I blame them.  At one time we were all looking for the next site to integrate Facebook so we could share music likes, restaurant discoveries, new yoga poses, whatever.  Then everyone realized that Facebook had quietly turned in to a big corporation over night and they were using all of this stuff we were sharing to make money off of us.

Educators are starting to notice this also, and wondering if they are crossing ethical lines by attaching student information to advertising dollars.

Less than a year ago, I thought the people leaving Facebook were just alarmists who probably also stocked up for Y2K.  Now I am seriously considering joining their ranks.  Without the impenetrable underground bunker, of course.

What if people stop sharing stuff online because they are tired of being exploited by big business?  That would pretty much kill Web 2.0, open education, Open Learning Networks, Personal learning Networks… you name it.  I have already noticed a slight decline in the amount of info I can glean from my PLN.  Is that a slight temporary dip, or a sign of what is to come?

Or, could this be a chance for something better to come about? Maybe less centralized social networks, more personalized, more secure?  Take note of these New York University students that are creating a new social network with a focus on privacy.  Interesting development…

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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