Expected: Continuous rise and fall of Social Networks

Last week LinkedIn has gone public. With the enormous growth of social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and the likes and the commercial value they — virtually — represent nobody can deny that these networks are booming.

A couple of years ago there were many local / specialised players, and during their first hick-ups some of them lost attention from the public and others quickly moved further. The ones that survived this consolidation battle are now growing for the big money. They have linked communities together that were previously pretty hard to access, and they even linked people together that lost sight of each other. Great phenomonom with completely new dynamics. Two of these new dynamics I want to emphasize:

  1. Access the network, not the individual.
    Via the social networks it becomes much easier to connect to people that might be interrested in your products or services. And the known relations between individuals provides insight in who might also become potential targets or groups. There is less need to get direct personal details from individual before you can contact them. The thing you need is a good advertisement for your target audience, the moment they open a page you need to convince them to come to you.
  2. Use your network id to access everything.
    For the individual there is the benefit of using your social networks id to identify yourself at other internet pages or services. Providing your personal information again and again is a thing of the past. Simply enter, e.g., your Facebook authentication and retrieve your ticket or order your goods.

These things have caused a paradigm shift in the internet business and that’s also what makes us enthusiastic. The downside of this all is that we provide personal information to these networks while we actually don’t know for sure what they all do with it. This has happened before, don’t we remember. In the early days, before Data Protection Acts were in place, we were not aware what companies were doing with our personal information. The Acts are still in place, but the majority of the public do like the benefits of providing important and potential harmful information for free more than enforcing networks to handle their data with care.

Whatcan be expected is not difficult to guess if we look at the past. In the near future there will be a severe incident or disaster with presumably safe data at one of these social networks. Recently, we already saw a specific case on the Sony Playstation Network site, but that was not big enough to disturb the comfortable feeling of many people.

And if a data disaster happens within the social networks? Don’t worry, the social networks have already proven their benefits in society, and the rules on how to deal with our data will be increased and more enforced. In the end you yourself will allow who will use and what will be used of your own information, and no longer the network.

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