Let me first admit that I do have, and use, a Facebook account. As you can clearly see from that little icon in the upper righthand corner of this webpage in the navbar. While I initially fought the early adoption of Facebook whilst still at university, I eventually relented as it was a means to an end for me. While my lovely wife and I were on our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, we met a splendid couple from London, England who both used Facebook. Since it was 2007, iMessages and FaceTime were years away and Skype still wasn't as widely used. Facebook offered a means for us to stay connected in a transatlantic fashion with messaging, wall posts and sharing pics. For me, that was the only reason to open an account, and today staying in touch with people is why I have yet to shut down my Facebook account. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a Twitter-man. People like to accuse me of being an avid Facebook user, but if they would look more closely the bulk of the updates attributed to me come from my Twitter feed, or Jetpack pushing my blog updates over to Facebook. Sure, using Facebook for sharing my blog posts is a tad self-promotional, oh well.
I've railed against Facebook in the past simply because I think that most fail to realize that when it comes to Facebook, the user is the product. Despite how much Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, whom I affectionally refer to as "Zuck," likes to talk and talk at length about how Facebook is all about connecting people, people sharing, people-people-people, the reality is that Facebook is a business, and a multi-billion dollar business at that. At times Zuckerberg almost seems indignant that people resist the urge to share things about themselves on Facebook, or exercise restraint in their usage of Facebook and the subtle irony is that Zuck has a profile which he barely uses, barely updates. The man is the epitome of privacy seeker, check out his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/zuck) which you can only follow. The updates are decidedly boring and uninteresting. He's like 163 things. I know people so crazy about liking things on Facebook that they've liked businesses that aren't even open yet. Zuck did announce his marriage to his longtime girlfriend via Facebook. However, they couple kept it the event a secret from family and friends for 4 months while they plotted and planned, then the fewer than 100 people invited to their home for the ceremony did so under the belief they were attending the new Mrs. Zuckerberg's college graduation. Mr. and Mrs. Zuck pulled a switch-a-roo on their friends and family just to keep their wedding a secret. Really, Mark, are you truly that important? If dude really believed in "making the world a more open place" he would have been more open to letting the world peer in on a significant event in his life, such as say… the planning of his wedding.
So, how does Facebook function on the level it does and make billions? They sell ads. Lots and lots of ads. They also like to refer to them as "sponsored stories" which is a nice of way of saying… more ads. It's cute that they allow you the opportunity to dismiss ads you don't want to see in your feed or sidebar, but even then Facebook asks why? Give us a reason, that way we can target you with more targeted ads. The truth is Facebook is now a publicly traded company, which means other people's money is involved and when that is the case those people demand that you are growing your business. For Facebook and Zuck, that means weaseling and rooting their way deeper and deeper into their users' lives. Facebook is a lot like a drug dealer in that they want you addicted to their product to the point where you cannot function on a daily basis without their product. So, what is Facebook's next strategy for growing their business?
Well, it was long rumored that Facebook was working on a Facebook phone, and while they still may be the case, what they revealed was that they had taken a step in that direction with something they are called Facebook Home. Now, according to Facebook it is not to be looked at as an app for your Android-enabled mobile device. Nor is it to be looked upon as a fork of Android, although that's actually what it is since it circumvents the top layer of Android front eh get-go. Facebook Home is basically a layer overtop of the Android operating system and everything else. When you start-up/unlock your phone Facebook is the first thing you see and you have to take extra steps to get past it and onto your other applications. Facebook Home contains feed updates of various types, Facebook messages and a pipeline for text messages. Basically while it's not the operating system, it somewhat behaves like one in that it more or less wants to operate with you in such a manner. According to Facebook it's about "people, not apps." Yea, it's about people… rooting itself deeper into your every day life. Here's a diagram of how Facebook Home works, which I don't actually understand, because you have to dig through Facebook Home in order to get to your other applications, but it's a decent visual aid.
And, here's Facebook's own commercial for Facebook Home.
Please don't consider this as me making a case that social media is evil. I'm not doing that, what I am doing is postulating about what Facebook's real intentions seem to be. Social media has it's invaluable uses, but we all have to be careful not to let it integrate into our DNA. Try as hard as they might, Facebook will never be able to create the community of real people despite it being based around real people. Nothing can recreate the personal human interaction we were all built to experience. And, the problem with letting social media be so integrated in our lives is that it renders us so noncommittal in all phases of the human life. We can ignore messages, hide them, block them or straight up defriend them. This is all easier said than done in life, and rightfully so because that's not what relationships are all about. And, simply put, life isn't about selling you something, which is what Facebook is trying to do in it's near limitless quest to grow as a business.
Right now Facebook Home will only be available for Android-enabled phones and tablets. Apple has no plans to adopt Facebook Home, and as an Apple user I am thankful for that. I don't think you'll ever see Apple adopt Facebook Home. They don't run an open shop such as Google does with Android and the reality here is that Facebook Home presents them with far more problems than opportunities whether Google realizes it or not. Sure, Facebook Home isn't supposed to deliver ads, but do you honestly believe you won't find Sponsored Stories in your feed soon enough if you're running Facebook Home? I don't even have the Facebook app on my iPhone because it was so clunky compared to their mobile site. I think that's improved since I deleted it over a year ago, but I just don't want Facebook having an app integrated into my phone knowing some of their more dubious activities in the past regarding user data and collection. Within the last few months they started rolling out their own bolt-on applications such as Facebook Camera and Facebook Pages. Why do I need separate apps to upload photos and manage a Facebook page? I do some social media for the church where I work, but I don't need an extra app taking up space asking for permissions in order to manage that information. I'll do it from a desktop, so no thank you, Facebook peeps. Don't even get me started on the debacle that Instagram is becoming since being bought out by Facebook. It's bad enough that some entrepreneurs are working to bring Instagram competitors to market based solely on the idea of being a simple tool for content creation to which you own total rights to and the app developers own no rights to at all.
The fact is Facebook is always seeking new methods for extracting information from you in order to target you more with ads and stories, that is the sole-basis for the share-share-share mentality they push so hard. It's the reason they want to put a layer over your Android device. There will be a certain sub-set of people who want this, because Facebook is a part of their DNA now. Overall, though, I think this basically becomes a problem that Google will duke it out with Facebook over. They aren't friends, they are enemies. Google has wanted to knock Facebook off the social media mountain for years now. Check out Buzz and now Google+. The fact that Google has "allowed" this to happen is spectacular, but expect a response from them soon. Facebook Home puts a blanket over Google's native applications and they won't be very happy about that when Facebook Home goes live.
Dear Apple, let Android have this one. It only benefits you in the end. Bake a little bit of Facebook into iOS for those who want that, and let Android deal with Facebook Home. It's going to be a mess for them.
For additional information on Facebook Home, Mashable has a decent write-up here.