Friday, May 21, 2010

Can Social Media Really Have a Meltdown?

I saw an article this week raising the question about what kind of crisis could bring Social Media in general or a Social Networking site in particular to its knees. It's an interesting question, but my "blink" answer was that I'm not sure Social Media can really have a crisis at this point.

What makes Social Media so indestructible? I think it's the people who use it. Consider recent events that
have occurred.
     • The big Facebook Open Graph thing
     • The Facebook announcement that only pages with 10,000 or more fans would be able to create a
     customized landing page (they later reneged on this)
     • Credit and debit card numbers from Blippy published to Google

And the list goes on.

It would seem like any one of these events would be enough to give people pause, and for some people, it has been. But the sheer numbers involved when talking about Social Media, and the nature of a lot of the folks using Social Media, make me feel like Social Media may well nigh be indestructible.

To illustrate this point, a short time ago one of my contacts on Facebook made a post indicating that by signing up for an external site account, you could get a Facebook credit for one of the games. To me, this indicates that you would have to enter a credit card number somewhere in there. Given that exposing my profile picture makes me weak in the knees, doing something like this fills me with a dread that I can't verbalize. But clearly, when considering the entire Social Media universe, I am in the minority.

If people are not turned off by losing the ability to control what information gets published, if people are not frightened off by spammy posts and worms and the publication of credit card numbers and ID theft and telling the universe the names of their children along with where those children may or may not be at any given point, I can't really image what could happen that would make people pause.

It kind of reminds me of one of the early scenes from the movie Dumb and Dumber. The bad guys want to trash the apartment that Lloyd and Harry live in. The apartment is already disgusting, so the bad guys reflect on whether further trashing the apartment would really send a message. I kind of feel like that when it comes to Social Media. There are already plenty of risks. What would send a negative message at this point? Interested in your thoughts!

Image by Mac Pale.

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