Rory Cellan-Jones

Poking fun at Facebook

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 2 May 08, 12:25 GMT

Whatever the problems over privacy, Facebook is still doing remarkably well in the UK. The latest figures from Nielsen show it's got 9.9 million UK members, almost twice as many as MySpace, so that dip at the beginning of the year seems to have been a blip.

But could ridicule do for Facebook? A BBC Three sketch about the true nature of friendship on the social network is funny, accurate - and becoming a big viral hit on YouTube. (Contains strong language.)

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And it comes just as many people are beginning to ask whether they really want to be in a place where they can be found and poked by virtual strangers - and have embarrassing moments from their past plastered all over the internet.

Facebook becoming mainstream enough to feature in a TV sketch show is obviously a sign of success - but remember the impact that Spitting Image had 20 years ago on the careers of some of the politicians it lampooned? If the idea that Facebook membership is for losers takes hold, then the crowds may melt away as quickly as they gathered.


  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Rory,

    Interesting article!

    I can't help thinking those Facebook numbers are a little like those reported by SecondLife. They log everyone who has ever set up an account, even people like me who took one look and never went back.

    It will be interesting to see how things change, now that Facebook is being lampooned as the place for 'Billy and Barbara No-Mates' to hang out.

    Jim Connolly
    The Ideas Blog

  • Comment number 2.

    i always found the idea (or lack of) behind facebook as really dull.

    at least myspace allows you to have express your personality.

    personally i don't need either as a communative tool apart from for having a laugh at a friends expense.

  • Comment number 3.

    To people who view facebook as a craze, it's just that: a craze.

    To others, it's just a useful tool for doing what we'd otherwise be already doing online, just less easily.

    ie., keeping in contact with friends and sharing photos of what we're up to or last night's bar crawl.

    I don't think it'll ever die away for that reason - it's very good, easy to use, slick looking and useful. The novelty of those rubbish applications will wear off, but otherwise that's like saying email is just a craze.

  • Comment number 4.

    Or even better, use Firefox and a greasemonkey script to eliminate any trace of the applications.

    My facebook looks just like it did before the applications!

  • Comment number 5.

    funny video! Sick of this facebook

  • Comment number 6.

    Ive been dipping in and out of Facebook for awhile now. I think most people over the age of 25 have an on off love affair with Facebook.

    What drove me away was all the ridiculous zombie stuff, video posting on my wall of dodgy videos etc etc. Once i found a way to cut all that out, i discovered facebook was a perfect platform for communication. In fact it is now my defacto method for emailing and keeping in touch.

    I believe Facebook will continue as a platform for zombies, games etc as it is the main way to monetise for developers, but i am looking for a grown up facebook, one which can aggregate all my communication into a simple dashboard without all the clutter.

  • Comment number 7.

    You've briefly hit upon a good point there, kop_some_moo. Facebook is a brilliant platform for developers. We can test ourselves by building applications and then gauge the success of them by sharing them with others. It gives anyone the chance to make money or a reputation instantly, which is an amazing thing in the development world.

    It's intriguing really that Facebook's success is largely due to its applications. And that those applications aren't generally made by the makers of Facebook. So the success is relying on others to voluntarily help develop the site.

    But if everyone leaves then there's no one to add our applications. And that sort of screws us over.

  • Comment number 8.

    I seriously content the issue of privacy scares with facebook, what is scary about a bot taking your info YOU posted on a website. That is the nature of the web. It can't figure out your bank details and it can't get any info not on your page. XSS and XSRF are possible but thats not a facebook issue thats a internet issue.

    Ok so you dont want a app to see your details, well any person in the same network as you can by default it is no different than one of them viewing you and writing down those details, in fact you probably leave worse info about yourself in the real world than what is taken by apps on facebook. And the privacy settings in facebook will allow you to ban about 99% of apps from accessing your page.

    I think its overexaggerated and made to sound alot worse than it is, serious inefficiences with the web cannot be blamed in facebook as all sites have them, and the privacy issue is a social one in response to fb, which i think is unfair, however for the average user maybe a simpler method for security of data may be in order but in no way are some of the exploits i've heard mentioned in regard to facebook as promineint or specific to facebook as i've been hearing.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi phil_stav, u look to make a quite valid point but i think the point which is concerned of all the people here is that, why i have no option to block access of these application in accessing my info what ever they are? secondly if even i am not using an app, and added by my friend that app is looking into me, so the question will arise have i given the permission to that app to get my info?

    kop_some_moo, u also have a valid point that they have made a new wave of web development and have some what change the model of web apps and now google has introduced open social and now Google Apps engine, but question is what the developer is getting in return, only facebook is getting rich, and today i was discussing with my teacher and conclusion was that what i dilemma of this world has become that someone is making money for doing nothing and our new generation is wasting our time in those stupid websites for just one few things, poke someone, say happy birthday to friends. Where they are taking us?

  • Comment number 10.

    Personally I've forsaken all of the rubbish that comes with Facebook these days, and I only use it as a communication and socialisation tool. If something needs to be organized, then Facebook is a great way of doing it collaboratively, as it makes sure everyone is involved and knows what is going on. And afterwards you can post photos/videos and ensure that everyone sees them.

    As for applications, well, other than the official ones, some of them are genuinely good ideas, some are novelties, and the rest are completely useless, poorly written, or designed only to make money while providing minimum content, but I've yet to find one that I feel I actually need or want.

    Personally, I find it unnaceptable that Facebook allows applications to refuse access to content without first inviting a certain number of people. And some of the adverts are a bit sleazy, to say the least...


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