Facebook has announced new regulations to help prevent the unlawful sale of guns and any items “that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law”. On the surface this seems like a logical move for the greater good. Of course no one wants illegal gun sales on our beloved Facebook.
The new policy demonstrates a milestone shift in the heart of Social Networking. As a new public company Facebook cannot afford reputation disasters. Remember the Craiglist Killer and list of crimes linked to Backpage? One really bad story could damage company value. Ironically you cant buy anything on Facebook yet speech in this category could have “consequences elsewhere”.
Well okay, but is Social Networking born out of sharing freely with anyone and not necessarily to protect us from something that might happen offline? Terms like “indicate a willingness” are ambiguous and laws vary from state to state. Facebook is auditing postings to protect the world from “consequences elsewhere” for things that may or may not be illegal. Facebook is no longer about sharing and Social Networking, it is about protecting the brand of a large publicly traded company. It is where Moms, Dads, Governments and Corporate legal teams regulate everything you do. Less fun but no problem.
We really cant blame Facebook for taking these steps. They need an identity beyond the cool place for kids to hangout. Times Square in New York City was much more fun when you could buy sex, drugs, and guns. Now that was a Social Network. Times Square today is nothing but large corporate brands and most everyone seems happy with the change.
Perhaps we need an update to the Social Networking model (for the children). Take the outlaw anonymity of Silkroad and combine it with the original Social Networking catalyst to share freely and we may just end up with Assbook. Anti Social Networking on the Undernet. Good luck finding your sons and daughters on that site.