Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Evil geniuses

There are many reasons why I think the people who run Facebook are absolute geniuses, in spite of the fact that they reportedly turned down buy-out offers of $750 million (confirmed) and $1.4 billion (rumored), because they're holding out for $2 billion. A short list of great moves: their success in filtering out the pornography and other spam that plague MySpace; their ability to run a profitable enterprise while keeping advertising minimally invasive; their commitment to a clean, consistent, and attractive interface, particularly after the move to HTML 2.0; their use of their own user base to develop new applications and functionalities that have massively increased user interest at zero development cost to Facebook itself; and their ability to integrate the new applications into the existing infrastructure in an aesthetically seamless manner.

But I think the most sinister manifestation of that genius has been their brilliant use of polls. Facebook accepts money from advertisers to place polls on people's homepages. They're perfectly integrated into the website, and look totally innocuous and fun. But not only is Facebook raking in cash from the people who put up the polls, they generate even more data to add to their downright remarkable collection of information about America's youth, which can then be sold to other advertisers at a ridiculous premium.

Bravo, Zuckerberg. Bravo.

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