https://www.novelcool.com/novel/The-Facebook-Effect.html

https://www.novelcool.com/chapter/The-Facebook-Effect-Part-7/552545/
https://www.novelcool.com/chapter/The-Facebook-Effect-Part-9/552547/

The Facebook Effect Part 8

Proponents of radical transparency argue that while Facebook may make it easier for people to see photos of you, there are many other sites on the Internet where a photographer could also post those photos. So Facebook is not facilitating anything that might not happen anyway.

"Mark's view is that Facebook had better not resist the trends of the world or else it'll become obsolete," says the soft-spoken but passionate Adam D'Angelo, who shares this view and with whom Zuckerberg has discussed such issues since they were at Exeter in 2001. "Information is moving faster," he continues. "That's just how the world is going to work in the future as a consequence of technology regardless of what Facebook does." Even Sheryl Sandberg takes evident pride when she says, "You can't be on Facebook without being your authentic self."

Members of Facebook's radical transparency camp, Zuckerberg included, believe more visibility makes us better people. Some claim, for example, that because of Facebook, young people today have a harder time cheating on their boyfriends or girlfriends. They also say that more transparency should make for a more tolerant society in which people eventually accept that everybody sometimes does bad or embarrassing things. The assumption that transparency is inevitable was reflected in the launch of the News Feed in September 2006. It treated all your behavior identically-in effect telescoping all your identities, from whatever context, into the same stream of information.

Those who speak their minds and show themselves on Facebook sometimes do see themselves as waging small battles for openness and transparency. Some of the controversies that result shine a spotlight on closed-mindedness by adults. Kimberley Swann, a sixteen-year-old in Essex, England, got a new job as a marketing firm office administrator. She added some co-workers as Facebook friends. After a few weeks she wrote on Facebook that her job was boring. Someone showed her boss, who promptly fired her. "I didn't even put the company's name," "I didn't even put the company's name," said Swann in an interview with the said Swann in an interview with the Daily Telegraph Daily Telegraph. "They were just being nosy, going through everything." Added a union official quoted by the BBC about the widely covered incident, "Most employers wouldn't dream "Most employers wouldn't dream of following their staff down to the pub to see if they were sounding off about work to their friends." of following their staff down to the pub to see if they were sounding off about work to their friends."

A few high school students have gone to court to defend their right to speak freely on Facebook. Katherine Evans, a student at Pembroke Pines Charter High School in Florida, created a Facebook group complaining that her Advanced Placement English teacher was "the worst teacher I've ever met." The principal learned of the group and suspended her for three days. She then sued the principal in federal court She then sued the principal in federal court, arguing he had violated her First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Some young people-inadvertently echoing Zuckerberg-say it's not a problem to have libertine images of themselves on Facebook because as they get older, standards about such indiscretions will have relaxed. While they are clearly gambling with their own reputations, the inarguable wholesale movement toward self-disclosure on Facebook and even in broader society gives this view some credence. President Barack Obama openly admitted in his autobiography to having snorted cocaine. Almost nobody cared.

It's understandable that people would want to share information about themselves unreservedly and still feel protected from inadvertent disclosures that might embarrass them. But the reason they can't is embedded in the very reason people use Facebook. James Grimmelmann, an associate professor at the New York Law School, explains this dilemma in a 2009 article titled "Saving Facebook": "[Facebook] has severe privacy problems and an admirably comprehensive privacy-protection architecture... Most of Facebook's privacy problems are...natural consequences of the ways that people enthusiastically use Facebook." He also writes, "There's a deep, probably irreconcilable tension "There's a deep, probably irreconcilable tension between the desire for reliable control over one's information and the desire for unplanned social interaction." between the desire for reliable control over one's information and the desire for unplanned social interaction."

One of Grimmelmann's central points is that the violations of privacy that occur on Facebook are frequently the result of the behavior not of the company but of people a user has accepted as a friend. To prevent photos from being taken and posted on Facebook, some college parties now ban cell phones and cameras. Some parties even have what kids call "shot rooms," which are totally dark so nobody can take any pictures of drinking or drug use. Athletes and other students concerned about their image have also learned to quickly troll Facebook after incriminating parties, seeking tagged photos of themselves that they, of course, detag. But the only way those photos can be uploaded and the tags affixed in the first place is if it's done by a user who is your "friend." Grimmelmann calls this sort of thing "peer-to-peer privacy violations." "peer-to-peer privacy violations."

Because we use our real names on Facebook, we can be held responsible for what we say. Many on the Internet take shelter behind pseudonyms when they say something obnoxious, rude, or hateful, but that's harder here. In Harrison, New York, a police detective In Harrison, New York, a police detective was demoted and forced to retire early in 2009 after writing on Facebook that the election of President Obama meant "the rose garden will be turned into the watermelon garden." was demoted and forced to retire early in 2009 after writing on Facebook that the election of President Obama meant "the rose garden will be turned into the watermelon garden."

Facebook's culture of accurate identity is not foolproof. Many create fake profiles for fun. At any time there are scores of profiles under the name Haywood Jablomie, for instance. But such fakesters are usually obvious. We are validated in our identity by the friends we have on Facebook, and Haywood usually has few or none. Other fake profiles are harder to detect. The Symantec security software firm conducted an experiment in 2008 in which it created one for an attractive young woman who supposedly attended a high school in Silicon Valley. Within hours a number of boys at that school had sent her friend requests, presumably because they wanted to date her. Sad incidents have also emerged in which, for example, men have posed as attractive women in order to get boys to send them photos of themselves nude or having sex.

Celebrities also break the Facebook model. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates shut down his personal profile on Facebook in early 2008 for two reasons. He was getting more friend requests per day-thousands-than even his staff could manage. But there were also five other "Bill Gates" profiles pretending to be him, each with numerous "friends."

People with unusual names have a different problem. Facebook often blocks their efforts to establish profiles in the first place. An Australian woman named Elmo Keep An Australian woman named Elmo Keep, twenty-seven, was ejected from Facebook until she sent the company copies of her passport and driver's license. V Addeman, fifty-two, of Costa Mesa, California, tried to join Facebook but was rejected by its software. He had a lengthy argument with Facebook customer service to convince them that his legal first name is a single letter. Others who have had difficulties include Japanese author Hiroko Yoda Others who have had difficulties include Japanese author Hiroko Yoda, Rowena Gay of New Zealand, and people whose names included Beaver, Jelly, Beer, and Duck. Even Caterina Fake, the well-known co-founder of Internet photo site Flickr, couldn't initially join Facebook. (Facebook's procedures for remedying such misunderstandings were grossly inadequate until late 2009, when a more formal appeals policy was inaugurated.) The vast majority of users identify themselves accurately. That gives Facebook some unique and practical capabilities. A man in Cardiff, Wales, located a half brother A man in Cardiff, Wales, located a half brother he hadn't seen in thirty-five years merely by searching for him by name in Facebook. Such family reconnections are becoming almost routine in the age of Facebook. he hadn't seen in thirty-five years merely by searching for him by name in Facebook. Such family reconnections are becoming almost routine in the age of Facebook.

Many people no longer exchange email addresses and cell-phone numbers; they just look each other up on Facebook. This simple directory capability is one of its most undeniable virtues. People who are not on Facebook are increasingly seen, among some groups, as unreachable by friends and acquaintances.

Is there a risk that once a fact about us has been revealed on Facebook we may never be able to escape it? Will we always be remembered as the drunken guy wearing the funny hat in some "friend's" photo gallery? Will it become harder to evolve as people because opinions about us have already hardened? From time immemorial, people have moved to new towns and started over to escape some fact or impression about themselves that made them uncomfortable. Will that no longer be possible?

It makes sense to be cautious about how much of your data you expose on Facebook. I myself abide by the simple "front page" rule. I'm relatively comfortable exposing a large portion of my whole self to scrutiny, so I put up extensive and accurate information on my profile and actively participate in dialogue. But I try never to include anything I would be devastated to find published on the front page of my local newspaper.

Zuckerberg has acquired a surprising ally in his campaign for openness and transparency-Ben Parr, the student at Northwestern University who launched "Students Against Facebook news feed," the protest group that catalyzed the big privacy crisis. In September 2008, Parr, now a technology writer, effectively recanted. "Here's the major change in the last two years," "Here's the major change in the last two years," he wrote in an article. "We are more comfortable sharing our lives and thoughts instantly to thousands of people, close friends and strangers alike. The development of new technology and the rocking of the boat by Zuckerberg has led to this change... News Feed truly launched a revolution that requires us to stand back to appreciate. Privacy has not disappeared, but become even easier to control-what I want to share, I can share with everyone. What I want to keep private stays in my head." he wrote in an article. "We are more comfortable sharing our lives and thoughts instantly to thousands of people, close friends and strangers alike. The development of new technology and the rocking of the boat by Zuckerberg has led to this change... News Feed truly launched a revolution that requires us to stand back to appreciate. Privacy has not disappeared, but become even easier to control-what I want to share, I can share with everyone. What I want to keep private stays in my head."

11.

The Platform.

"Together, we're starting a movement!"

Mark Zuckerberg has had a particular obsession since Facebook's early days. On the night that his early collaborator Sean Parker first met Zuckerberg at that trendy Tribeca Chinese restaurant in May 2004, the two got into a curious argument. Zuckerberg, in Parker's opinion, kept derailing the discussion by repeatedly talking about how he wanted to turn Thefacebook into a platform. What he meant was that he wanted his nascent service to be a place where others could deploy software, much as Microsoft's Windows or the Apple Macintosh were platforms for applications created by others. Parker argued that it was way too early to think about anything like that.

Kevin Efrusy of Accel Partners has a similar recollection. At one of his very first meetings with Zuckerberg after Accel invested in the company in late spring 2005, the young CEO asked for a favor. "Kevin, I need to find someone to help me think through my platform strategy."

"Huh? Yeah, well maybe someday we can be a platform," Efrusy replied, haltingly. "But we're just a company with six people...I mean, I guess I know a guy over at BEA [a business software company] who has done some interesting platform work..."

Zuckerberg cut him off. "BEA? I was thinking more like Bill Gates. Can you help me talk to Bill Gates?"

"Ummm...I don't know. Maybe Jim Breyer can help with that..."

A week passed. Efrusy was again at Zuckerberg's office. "Okay," said Zuckerberg. "So I talked to him."

"Talked to who?"

"Bill Gates!"

Even in these early days, Zuckerberg was trying to imagine how his little service could be more than just an Internet destination where people went to communicate with each other.

Every great technology company goes through one or two key transitional moments when its creators discover they have created something different-and bigger-than they initially realized. Early on it dawned on Bill Gates-then making bespoke software for little PC hardware companies with partner Paul Allen-that software should be its own industry. He later had a second epochal realization: that entire computers could be built around an operating system. Microsoft subsequently became the most profitable company in history. One night it hit Yahoo founders Jerry Yang and Jeff Filo that they didn't have only a map to the Internet. Their service could also be an unprecedented way to collect detailed market research about Net users. Yahoo became the first big ad-supported Net media company. Google's turnabout came when founders Sergei Brin and Larry Page discovered they could direct user searches not only toward websites but also toward a separate database of advertising. Thus was born the most powerful business model of the Internet era so far. one or two key transitional moments when its creators discover they have created something different-and bigger-than they initially realized. Early on it dawned on Bill Gates-then making bespoke software for little PC hardware companies with partner Paul Allen-that software should be its own industry. He later had a second epochal realization: that entire computers could be built around an operating system. Microsoft subsequently became the most profitable company in history. One night it hit Yahoo founders Jerry Yang and Jeff Filo that they didn't have only a map to the Internet. Their service could also be an unprecedented way to collect detailed market research about Net users. Yahoo became the first big ad-supported Net media company. Google's turnabout came when founders Sergei Brin and Larry Page discovered they could direct user searches not only toward websites but also toward a separate database of advertising. Thus was born the most powerful business model of the Internet era so far.

Zuckerberg's first eureka moment was when he and Moskovitz realized their service could go beyond college. But another struck while watching the stunning success of the photos application. It became apparent something special was happening. "Our photo site lacks features anyone else would build," Zuckerberg told me in early May 2007. "We don't store high-resolution photos. The printing function is downright bad. And until recently you couldn't even change the order of photos in an album. Yet somehow, this application became the most trafficked photo site on the Internet, by far." And something similar was going on with the application Facebook engineers had quickly thrown together to allow users to invite friends to events. It was garnering more usage than Evite.com, which had been for years the leading website for invitations.

"So why were photos and events so good?" he asked. "It was because despite all their shortcomings they had one thing no one else had. And that was integration with the social graph." This was Facebook's own conceptual breakthrough, and Zuckerberg was proud of the term he used to describe it. "We did some thinking and we decided that the core value of Facebook is in the set of friend connections," he continued. "We call that the social graph, in the mathematical sense of a series of nodes and connections. The nodes are the individuals and the connections are the friendships." Then his enthusiasm veered, it seemed at the time, toward overstatement: "We have the most powerful distribution mechanism that's been created in a generation." Zuckerberg immodestly explained that this same power could be applied to any sort of application-not just photos or events. His certitude was jarring.

By "distribution" he meant that by connecting with your friends on Facebook you had assembled a network, this so-called social graph, and it could be employed to distribute any sort of information. If you added a photo, it told your friends. Ditto if you changed your relationship status, or announced that you were heading to Mexico for the weekend. But it could also tell your friends about any action you took using any software to which your social graph was connected. So far, though, the only applications that took advantage of this distribution capability were photos, events, and a few others created by Facebook itself.

Most software companies, were they to conclude that they had such an ability to create uniquely powerful applications, would create more of them. They might make shopping applications on top of their social graph, or games, or applications for businesses. Instead, Facebook stopped building applications at all, at least for a while. In the fall of 2006 Zuckerberg set out to realize his long-held vision of a platform for others to build applications on top of Facebook. He wanted to do for the Web what Gates did for the personal computer: create a standard software infrastructure that made it easier to build applications-this time, applications that had a social component. "We want to make Facebook into something of an operating system, so you can run full applications," he explained.

COO Owen Van Natta, whom I also talked to in May 2007, had his own way of describing this potential: "Take anything today on the Internet and overlay a lens that is people you know and trust who have their own perspective. That's what we will enable with platform. What wouldn't potentially be more valuable when seen through that lens?"

Zuckerberg had thought about platforms almost since he first touched a keyboard. He learned to program as an adolescent by coding functions that worked on top of AOL, then the dominant online service. A community of hackers-including Zuckerberg-turned AOL into a platform whether its leaders wanted it to be one or not. Then when he was a senior at Exeter, he teamed up with Adam D'Angelo and built his software for listening to MP3s (audio files) called Synapse. Synapse became popular in part because it allowed other programmers to build companion programs, called plug-ins, that supplied additional features. Synapse was, in effect, a mini-platform. And in his earlier, abandoned obsession with his cherished Wirehog, Zuckerberg was thinking of Facebook as a platform. Wirehog was in effect, if only briefly, the first independent application to operate on top of Facebook.

Becoming a platform on which the applications of others can operate is one of the great holy grails of technology. Microsoft dominated the technology industry for almost two decades by positioning its Windows software as the monopoly operating system platform for the PC industry. Anyone who wanted to build a PC application had to use Windows. (It was Bill Gates in fact who popularized this use of the word "platform.") Creating a platform enables a software company to become the nexus of an ecosystem of partners that are dependent on its product. And once a company is at the center of an entire ecosystem, it becomes maddeningly difficult for competitors to dislodge it. Not only did Apple succeed at this masterfully with its Macintosh operating system, but it succeeded again, first with the iPod and then with its magnificent iPhone.

By becoming a platform, Facebook also takes some of the burden off itself to excel in everything it does. Facebook will never be able to build the best application in every area its users are interested in. Companies that devote more resources to chat, for example, will continue to outpace Facebook. I recently asked my seventeen-year-old daughter, Clara, if she used Facebook's chat application, an ambitious add-on the service launched in mid-2008. No, she said, she still preferred AIM and Apple's iChat (an answer many American teenagers would give, despite their addiction to Facebook). "Facebook Chat feels like using Morse code," she explained. It doesn't have enough features and isn't easy enough to use. Zuckerberg decided that what Facebook did uniquely well was maintain your personal profile and your network of friend connections. Ultimately, almost everything else will be done by other companies.

Facebook made the first move to turn itself into a platform back in August 2006. The world barely noticed. The big news around then was the News Feed scandal. Programmer Dave Fetterman spearheaded something called the Facebook API, or application programming interface. It enabled users to log in to other sites on the Web with their Facebook username and password so the partner site could extract their data, including their list of friends. Some at Facebook-mostly older executives-objected to letting user data escape the confines of the service in this way. They said the company was giving away something valuable and getting nothing in return. But Zuckerberg pushed it through. To demonstrate the API, Facebook built its own external website application called Facebank, later renamed Moochspot, for keeping track of small debts between friends.

While thousands of developers did fiddle around with the API, not many used it, and very few Facebook users did.

The real problem with the API was that it didn't help outside application partners very much, because it didn't include that vaunted "distribution." It didn't take full advantage of the social graph. You could pull your list of friends out of Facebook but you couldn't send information you produced back inside to them. You and your friends could keep track of debts on Moochspot, yet it didn't send any information back to your profile.

But shortly Facebook triumphed with News Feed. It enabled your friends to easily learn about your Facebook activities-including which applications you installed on your profile. Only with the News Feed in place could Facebook become a successful platform. Open registration also helped lay the groundwork. Software developers would obviously be more interested in applications on Facebook if it operated at a large scale and included all sorts of people.

As soon as the News Feed brouhaha settled down, the company's priorities turned to building the platform. D'Angelo and Charlie Cheever did much of the critical programming work. Dave Morin got the job of "platform marketing"-working with potential developers. (In his previous job at Apple, already a Facebook partisan, he had sought futilely to get Facebook built into the Mac OS.) Morin and Fetterman visited companies that had successfully created platforms, including eBay, Apple, and Salesforce.com.

But despite all the external models, the team kept harking back to one internal reference point. "We used photos as the model the entire time," says Morin. "We just kept looking at it, asking, 'How do we enable every application to do what photos does?'" Each profile page included a box for photo albums. Clicking on a photo took a user to an entire page, which looked much like a website. When you uploaded a photo it updated your personal mini-feed on your profile as well as the News Feeds of relevant friends. So the team decided to allow outside developers similarly to place boxes on profile pages and to build full pages inside Facebook. Actions in any application could, of course, generate News Feed stories.

Carrying this logic even further, they arrived at the principle that Facebook should not be able to do anything with its own applications that outside developers couldn't do. It should be a level playing field, Zuckerberg explained in 2007. "We want an ecosystem which doesn't favor our own applications," he said. This policy was followed to such an extreme that features were removed from Facebook's own photos application because an outside developer would not have been able to include them.

The company extended an extraordinary degree of freedom to its new partners. Amazingly, it planned to let developers make money with their applications, but would not charge them anything at all for the right to operate inside Facebook. "People can develop on this for free," said Zuckerberg around the time the platform debuted, "and can do whatever they want. They can build a business inside of Facebook. They can run ads. They can have sponsorships. They can sell things, they can link off to another site. We are just agnostic. There are going to be companies whose only product is an application that lives within Facebook."

But did it make Facebook a better business? That was not a priority. "We don't force ourselves to answer the question how we're going to make money off this right now so long as it's strengthening our market position," he said back then. "We'll figure that out later."

So Zuckerberg saw it. But some of his colleagues, particularly the ones who sold advertising for the site, were apoplectic. Why should its application partners be allowed to compete with Facebook itself in selling ads? There were plenty of angry meetings. But for all the venting, Zuckerberg was unswayed. Activity on applications, he argued, would generate more activity in Facebook. That would create more page views, and even on application pages Facebook would reserve space to sell its own ads. Zuckerberg also advocated a sort of corporate Darwinism. He said he wanted outside apps to help keep Facebook honest by forcing it to make its own remaining applications good enough to compete successfully.

Back then I talked to Zuckerberg in his private retreat-an all-white conference room furnished with midcentury modern furniture from Design Within Reach, a few blocks down University Avenue. (He didn't decorate it himself, but he liked it.) White Eames chairs, a white Saarinen table with delicate metal legs, white curtains, white blinds, gray rug and sofa, and a big black beanbag chair. Employees called it the "interrogation room" both because Zuckerberg was known for his probing questions and because its austerity evoked a prison cell. It was Zuckerberg's twenty-third birthday when he and I met there. He was barefoot and unshaven, wearing an A&W Root Beer T-shirt with blue jeans. In a corner was an unopened box of Transformer robot toys. Zuckerberg was drawing diagrams on the whiteboards that covered all the walls, and at one point couldn't find an eraser. So he picked up a knit hat from the floor and wiped the board with that.

In April, Zuckerberg had given a talk at a News Corp. executive summit at a resort at Pebble Beach, two hours south of Palo Alto. Rupert Murdoch had recently said a few things in public to suggest he wondered if he had bought the wrong social network. At a gala dinner Zuckerberg and Murdoch huddled together intently, while MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe sat nervously at a nearby table. Finally Zuckerberg got up, announcing that he had to get back to take his girlfriend to a movie. "After he left, the MySpace guys rushed over to Rupert," says blogger and author Jeff Jarvis, who attended the dinner. "It was like 'Dad! Pay attention to me!'"

Now as the platform launch approached, Zuckerberg made no bones about the fact that it was intended partly to best MySpace, which remained the dominant American social network. MySpace had recently decreed that some third-party applications could not operate there, and even shut one down merely on suspicion that it had been selling advertising. "We just have such a different philosophy and view of the world," Zuckerberg explained. "We're a technology company. MySpace is a media company, and they view their job as owning and distributing content."

To succeed with the platform launch, Facebook had to start promoting itself to developers. Dave Morin and Matt Cohler crisscrossed the globe visiting start-ups and big media companies alike, seeking to convince them to make software for Facebook. A splashy launch event was planned for May 24, 2007, at a big hall in San Francisco. Facebook called the event f8, a name that subtly proclaimed it was Facebook's "fate" to become a platform. Zuckerberg even emerged from his shell to solicit advance attention from a journalist, me, whom he invited inside the company for an exclusive story as he prepared for f8. I published an article titled I published an article titled "Facebook's Plan to Hook Up the World" in "Facebook's Plan to Hook Up the World" in Fortune Fortune magazine and online at the very moment f8 began. magazine and online at the very moment f8 began.

Facebook hired a veteran event planner named Michael Christman to oversee the f8 logistics. On his first visit to the offices he was in a lengthy meeting, sitting by the door in a big conference room that also held a flat-screen TV and a Nintendo Wii machine. The door opened and banged into Christman's back. Two young men appeared but backed out when they realized the room was in use. A few minutes later they came in again, hoping the meeting was over, and again knocked his chair. They wanted to play the video game. When it happened a third time, Christman turned and said sternly, "Boys, if you want to play with the Wii, come in. But don't bang my chair again." At that point, Meagan Marks, a Facebook employee who was managing f8, said, "Michael, this might be a good time to introduce you to our CEO, Mark Zuckerberg."

The days leading up to f8 were a frenzy of excitement and near panic. Employees were fueled by a sense that they were making history. The graffiti-scrawled halls were abuzz with grand proclamations. "We're gonna change the Internet!" "We're gonna make the Internet social!" "We're gonna finally put people on the Internet!" "We're creating a real economy on the Web!" Apple veteran Dave Morin remembers driving home one night at 4 A.M A.M after a particularly intense planning session, thinking, "This is what it must have been like building the first Macintosh." To prepare for the new Facebook, Morin was reading after a particularly intense planning session, thinking, "This is what it must have been like building the first Macintosh." To prepare for the new Facebook, Morin was reading Democracy in America Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, the classic nineteenth-century observation of the U.S. political and economic system, as well as Adam Smith's by Alexis de Tocqueville, the classic nineteenth-century observation of the U.S. political and economic system, as well as Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations The Wealth of Nations. Modesty of ambition has never characterized successful leaders at Facebook.

It had been a marathon of programming. Adam D'Angelo and his team building the platform worked seven days a week for more than three months. The night before f8 they were almost-but not quite-ready. A core group crowded into a room at San Francisco's W Hotel running through final fixes. Most hadn't slept for days. But a key piece of the platform software still didn't work properly.

Some of the programmers took an alertness drug called Provisual so they could stay up yet another night. They were semidelirious. They joked they should mix Provisual with cocaine and call it Blow-visual. Luckily the quality of their coding was higher than that of their humor. But they made it through the night. Just hours before f8 was scheduled to begin, they flipped the switch. The software worked! Their brains barely did.

Nobody outside Facebook knew what was coming, except the few partners that had agreed to develop applications in advance. The company had kept the purpose of f8 secret. The only thing most of Silicon Valley knew was that Facebook would make a big announcement. Facebook had never done anything like this before. Hundreds of journalists crowded the front rows. It seemed every software and Internet company in California, and many from farther away, sent a delegation.

As f8 began, the 750 people throughout the packed room strained to see the diminutive Zuckerberg, wearing his standard T-shirt, fleece jacket, and sandals. He walked out onstage and pronounced, "Together, we're starting a movement!" It was a phrase suggested by hip San Francisco strategy and marketing consulting firm Stone Yamashita.

Zuckerberg's platform demo was by far the best-rehearsed presentation he had ever given. He'd slaved over his wording, but continued modifying his slides until minutes before he was scheduled to appear. He was extremely nervous. Everybody would be watching, even his parents, who were in the audience. But he paid a price for his last-minute modifications. When he got onstage the slides appeared in the wrong order and his speech got out of synch. He paused and looked confused. The event staff and Facebook's executives held their breath. "Well, this worked in my office..." he joked. The tension defused. The correct slide came up. He finished smoothly.

The platform wowed the crowd. It took Facebook way past MySpace. No other consumer website had anything like this. Rapturous coverage instantly began sprouting on blogs and journals all over.

A solid ecosystem had already started coming together. More than forty companies demonstrated applications. Mighty Microsoft showed two apps that helped integrate existing Internet software with Facebook. The Washington Post Washington Post (who else?) showed a "political compass" to compare your political views to those of your friends. Sean Parker teamed up with Zuckerberg's old Harvard dormmate Joe Green to make an application called Causes, to help nonprofits raise money. Another big partner at the platform launch was iLike, which had previously built its own social network to share songs and musical favorites. (who else?) showed a "political compass" to compare your political views to those of your friends. Sean Parker teamed up with Zuckerberg's old Harvard dormmate Joe Green to make an application called Causes, to help nonprofits raise money. Another big partner at the platform launch was iLike, which had previously built its own social network to share songs and musical favorites.

Immediately afterward, f8 turned into an eight-hour public hackathon, where any developer could work alongside Zuckerberg and Facebook's programmers to build software on the fly. (That was another reason it was called f8.) But when the event ended at twelve, the night was not over for the Facebook crew.

They retired again to the W Hotel, where they proceeded to, as they said, "push the platform live," meaning turn it on. Staffers scattered throughout conference rooms to do various necessary tasks, while Moskovitz and Morin sat on a sofa in the lobby working from their laptops via the hotel Wi-Fi. Once the platform was working they crashed, though not before a little partying, of course.

Dave Morin awoke blearily the following morning to find a string of panicked messages on his cell phone. "We have so much traffic we don't know what to do!" said one from an executive at iLike. "Can you help us get more servers?" Apparently just about every application launched the day before was having trouble under the strain of a massive influx of users. Morin headed developer relations, so the companies wanted his help. iLike's executives flew down from Seattle and rented a U-Haul truck, which they drove around Silicon Valley borrowing servers from various tech companies so they could handle the load. By Friday, the day after f8, 40,000 Facebook users had installed the iLike application. Two days later, the figure had soared to 400,000.

Morin got help from the company that ran Facebook's South San Francisco data center. Facebook itself occupied a series of what are called "cages"-fenced-in indoor enclosures full of servers and networking equipment. An adjacent cage was made available to any developer that needed help managing its traffic. Eventually Facebook did a deal with a larger data center operator to open an entire facility for application partners, which would be, in Internet lingo, "peered" with Facebook's, meaning that in the electronic topography of the Net it was essentially right next door.

The reaction to f8 across the tech industry was close to ecstatic. Facebook's platform launch became-along with the launch of Apple's iPhone a month later-one of the two most-discussed tech events of the year. No longer was it possible to dismiss this upstart as merely a plaything for college kids. The influential blog TechCrunch called the platform "inspired thinking." Prior to f8, Zuckerberg and his crew had hoped that in the subsequent year 5,000 applications might come onto Facebook and half its users would install them. But within six months 250,000 developers were registered, operating 25,000 applications.

Just as Zuckerberg had predicted, Facebook gave applications an unusual ability to acquire new users. This was the vaunted "distribution." The News Feed told users when their friends had installed new applications, so even the most modest app from a single developer with no marketing budget could reach millions of users almost overnight if it did something useful. Though the News Feed still was a selection chosen by algorithm, Facebook tuned the software to make sure that newly installed applications were announced. By six months later, half of Facebook's users had at least one application on their profile.

Just about every software and Internet company was suddenly talking about building an application for Facebook-from industry titans to college kids in their dorm room. Facebook's platform infrastructure made it almost as easy for such lone wolves to create an application as for Microsoft. When it launched the platform, Facebook turned off its own Courses application, which helped college students track one another's class schedules. A New Jersey high school student named Jake Jarvis, seeing opportunity, quickly wrote something similar and six months later sold it for an amount his father says was "sufficient to pay for a year in college."

The platform brought Facebook a gravitas it never before possessed. It caused both technologists and ordinary users to sense that this service was more than they'd reckoned. In Silicon Valley and among techies worldwide, it suddenly became uncool not to have your own Facebook profile.

The platform also changed the experience of being on Facebook. There was a new expansiveness, an air of possibility. If adding the photos application had made Facebook feel like a place where you wanted to spend a lot of your time, turning it into a platform for applications began to make it feel a bit like being on the Web itself. Facebook was becoming its own self-contained universe.

For high school and college students it had long been routine to spend the majority of their online time there. Now people of all sorts and of all ages began to do the same. On the day of f8-May 24, 2007-Facebook had 24 million active users, with 150,000 new ones joining every day. The demographics were already spreading out The demographics were already spreading out, with 5 million users between twenty-five and thirty-four, a million between thirty-five and forty-four, and 200,000 over age sixty-five. Within a year Facebook tripled to more than 70 million active users.

In all the complex and frenzied preparations for f8, Zuckerberg and his team had given surprisingly little thought to exactly what kinds of applications were likely to work best on Facebook. As is so often the case at this company, driven by ideals and led by a CEO obsessed with a long-term view, high-mindedness prevailed. The Facebook team assumed that general-purpose applications with wide functional appeal would play a big role in the new ecosystem. When they prepared for f8 by taking proprietary features out of their own photos app, for example, they believed that someone might come along with a better one and successfully compete against them. Their idea was that this should be a forum for the best, most functional, most sophisticated applications. When I was reporting in 2007 prior to f8, Facebook had me speak with one close ally of the company, who told me, "Facebook is creating the opportunity to build a whole generation of Adobes and Electronic Arts and Intuits that live within Facebook." These were the giants of the industry. As usual, the company was aiming high.

Facebook, however, is nothing more than the collective actions of its users. What happens there depends on what Facebook users are interested in, not, in the end, what Mark Zuckerberg thinks they ought to be interested in. With Facebook's platform, he learned that lesson a bit painfully.

A frenzy of new applications quickly emerged on Facebook, but they were hardly high-minded. The ones that took off fastest were mostly silly, but intrinsically social in a way that games on the Web had never been before. One of the first really hot apps was one called Fluff Friends. It didn't do much more than let you electronically "pet" a virtual dog or cat, but when you pet your friend's dog your photo would show up on their profile. It was a new way to send a simple message, which 5 million people did. Another similar app enabled you to give your friends a "vampire bite." Food Fight helped you throw food at your friends, and reached 2 million users in just a few weeks. A silly little app called Graffiti-which let you scribble on friends' pages-became the number-two application. A couple of young guys in San Francisco A couple of young guys in San Francisco wrote it in a couple days in their apartment. wrote it in a couple days in their apartment.

These were genuinely social applications-they successfully brought offline behavior into this new online world. It's just that it was the kind of behavior that reflected the penchants of the people who still were the overwhelming majority of Facebook's users-teenagers and college kids.

A few weeks before f8, Morin had coffee with Mark Pincus, the erstwhile founder of Tribe.net, co-owner of the sixdegrees social networking patent, and early investor in Facebook. Pincus told Morin excitedly that he intended to build a poker application for the new platform. "It won't work," Morin asserted dourly. "Games aren't viral." Pincus went ahead and launched Texas HoldEm Poker on Facebook, starting a company called Zynga, which was headed for huge success. Zuckerberg himself was disappointed at the silliness of many of these apps. He wanted his company to help people communicate things that mattered, not make it easier to play around.

Then came the phenomenon called Scrabulous. Two brothers from Kolkata, India, Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, built a blatant imitation of the classic board game Scrabble for Facebook. You could play multiple games with as many friends as you wanted, taking a turn whenever it was convenient. Scrabulous was a sensation. The magazine PC World PC World rated Scrabulous number fifteen on its list of "The 100 Best Products of 2008," just behind Craigslist and ahead of the Nintendo Wii. (Facebook itself was number three.) Some days as many as 342,000 people played. rated Scrabulous number fifteen on its list of "The 100 Best Products of 2008," just behind Craigslist and ahead of the Nintendo Wii. (Facebook itself was number three.) Some days as many as 342,000 people played.

Scrabulous got even Mark Zuckerberg's attention. He had never succeeded in convincing his grandparents to join Facebook, but now they finally agreed-so they could play Scrabulous with him there. His antipathy toward games on Facebook began to crack. It was apparent to him that you were interacting with people you cared about when you played Scrabulous. And after all, Scrabble was a game of words and the intellect-the kind of game played by people who went to Harvard.

All this excitement did not go over well with the owners of Scrabble, however. Shortly after Scrabulous launched, Hasbro Shortly after Scrabulous launched, Hasbro, which owns the rights in the United States and Canada, tried to buy the online game, reportedly for as much as $10 million. The Agarwalla brothers refused to sell, then Hasbro sued them. The game was shut down. Meanwhile, Mattel, which sells Scrabble in the rest of the world, launched its own Facebook version for use outside North America. Eventually Hasbro launched a legal U.S. Scrabble for Facebook, and the Agarwallas reworked their game to resemble Scrabble less and renamed it Lexulous. It remains popular.

Pincus's Texas HoldEm was the next game to take off. Morin was right in a sense-games didn't spread virally as quickly as some kinds of applications. But they engendered extraordinary loyalty-once a user starts playing, they frequently come back. Zynga later added other games, including Farmville and Mafia Wars, both of which now have millions of users. Pincus raised money from venture capitalists and invested aggressively. Zynga is now the largest application company on Facebook, with about 250 employees and over $200 million in annual revenues. And Pincus says Zynga is profitable. Texas HoldEm had 20.3 million Texas HoldEm had 20.3 million active users on Facebook in December 2009, making it by far the most popular poker site anywhere on the Internet. But even more impressive is the game called Farmville, also created by Zynga. On Farmville, a player manages and grows a farm, tending crops and feeding animals, etc. You trade with your neighbors and join in a community of farmers all trying to build the biggest and most productive farm. It has about 80 million total users. Overall Zynga has 241 million total active users for all its games as of February 2010, according to the research firm Inside Network. active users on Facebook in December 2009, making it by far the most popular poker site anywhere on the Internet. But even more impressive is the game called Farmville, also created by Zynga. On Farmville, a player manages and grows a farm, tending crops and feeding animals, etc. You trade with your neighbors and join in a community of farmers all trying to build the biggest and most productive farm. It has about 80 million total users. Overall Zynga has 241 million total active users for all its games as of February 2010, according to the research firm Inside Network.

Games are now the most successful type of application on Facebook, drawing in phenomenal numbers of players. It makes sense, since gaming is a fundamentally social activity. Facebook enables you to play any game with any of your friends on the service. As of February 2010 there were twelve games on Facebook with more than 20 million players, according to the company. The highly complex World of Warcraft The highly complex World of Warcraft for years dominated online multiplayer gaming, with at most 11.5 million players. But gaming on Facebook is a more casual activity. "We now have tens of millions of people playing games who don't identify themselves as gamers," says Gareth Davis, who oversees the gaming portion of the Facebook platform. "They play games here because they want to have fun with their friends." for years dominated online multiplayer gaming, with at most 11.5 million players. But gaming on Facebook is a more casual activity. "We now have tens of millions of people playing games who don't identify themselves as gamers," says Gareth Davis, who oversees the gaming portion of the Facebook platform. "They play games here because they want to have fun with their friends."

Davis is working with every major console game manufacturer to enable classic video games to connect with Facebook and incorporate a social element. "In three years every game will be social," he predicts. "Every single device-whether it's a console or a phone or a TV-will connect with Facebook and be able to incorporate and share your Facebook data." One game by a company called Social Gaming Network enables people to play tennis. For a racket they swing an iPhone that is connected to Facebook. Their adversary on Facebook can be anywhere else in the world, swinging his or her own iPhone.

Games and silly applications continued to surge throughout the Facebook platform's first year, but the company was finding it wasn't simple to manage and police its ecosystem of partners. Since anyone could create an app, the platform attracted quite a few players who were less idealistic than Zuckerberg and more interested in making a quick buck.

A competition ensued among applications for users at all costs. Applications were designed as much to get new users as to be fun or valuable. The key was to figure out how to manipulate Facebook's software so that messages would go into people's News Feed inviting them to download an app. Applications became very clever about generating stories that would flood everyone's home pages. One called Funwall let you create little animations or download video onto your profile. That was fine and good. But it had an insidious interface that used ambiguous language to trick many users into sending invitations to every single friend. Even tech industry sophisticates fell for it.

Facebook kept trying to weed out spammers and encourage more reputable applications. But changes intended to punish malfeasance often impaired legitimate apps. Says Morin: "We had to learn a lot about developer relations and policy setting and things that we just didn't understand. We sort of stumbled our way through becoming good at dealing with developers."

The company implemented a variety of new rules to try to police applications and make them behave. It urged users to complain about spam. It changed the software to reduce the number of application stories flowing into a user's News Feed. And it hired an industry veteran to head up the platform. Ben Ling, a slender and flamboyant Chinese-American, had been running the payment system called Google Checkout. He was the highest-level employee Facebook had ever lured away from Google. Executives called him a "rock star."

By the summer of 2008 the problems had gotten completely out of hand. Facebook's platform was like the Wild West. So at a second f8 that July, Facebook announced a variety of refinements and rule changes, including a rating system. Now Facebook could weed out apps by "verifying" the good ones. Facebook wanted to encourage the apps that were the most fun or useful. Despite all the fluff, a fair number of substantial and useful applications did get traction. A popular one called Visual Bookshelf let you list books you've read, rate them, and write short reviews.

But Zuckerberg's favorite Facebook application was the Parker-and-Greencreated Causes. It was driven by high motives-to help nonprofits raise money. Facebook users who make a donation create a story in their friends' News Feeds. Ideally that inspires friends to make their own donations. Explains Joe Green: "Social recognition matters in charity, too. People who make big donations like to get their names on hospital buildings. So we at Causes allow you to show what you care about on your Facebook profile." He says it's like wearing a yellow rubber Livestrong bracelet. Users responded strongly. Causes has remained among the largest applications on Facebook.

Now the platform ecosystem has become substantial. There are more than 500,000 applications operating on Facebook, created by over 1 million registered developers from 180 countries. More than 250 of these applications More than 250 of these applications have at least one million active users every month. Investors have high hopes for this new type of software company. The top five Facebook applications companies alone-Zynga, Playfish, Rock You!, CrowdStar, and Causes-have raised approximately $359 million in investment capital between them. That includes a giant $180 million infusion into Zynga in late 2009 by private investors led by the Russian firm Digital Sky Technologies. Justin Smith, who runs Inside Facebook, which is devoted to the Facebook developer community, estimates that there are about fifty venture-funded software companies with substantial revenues whose primary business is building and operating applications on Facebook. Zynga is the largest. About 200 smaller companies, comprised of two to four developers each, have annual revenues of several hundred thousand dollars. At least another 300 solo operators have written a Facebook application that earns enough to support them. have at least one million active users every month. Investors have high hopes for this new type of software company. The top five Facebook applications companies alone-Zynga, Playfish, Rock You!, CrowdStar, and Causes-have raised approximately $359 million in investment capital between them. That includes a giant $180 million infusion into Zynga in late 2009 by private investors led by the Russian firm Digital Sky Technologies. Justin Smith, who runs Inside Facebook, which is devoted to the Facebook developer community, estimates that there are about fifty venture-funded software companies with substantial revenues whose primary business is building and operating applications on Facebook. Zynga is the largest. About 200 smaller companies, comprised of two to four developers each, have annual revenues of several hundred thousand dollars. At least another 300 solo operators have written a Facebook application that earns enough to support them.

Facebook application companies are doing so well that their estimated aggregate revenue in 2009 was roughly the same amount as Facebook's itself-slightly over $500 million. These applications generate revenue in several ways. Selling advertising generates $200 million for applications companies. Apps often host ads promoting other Facebook apps, and get paid about fifty cents on average each time a user clicks through and installs another app.

Transactions inside applications create even more revenue. Justin Smith of Inside Facebook estimates Justin Smith of Inside Facebook estimates there were $300 million in such transactions in 2009. Much of this is spent to buy an upgrade to a more advanced level of a game, or to buy virtual goods, like a fancier shoe to kick your friend in KickMania. Playfish's Pet Society game, where users set up houses to display their pets, releases new virtual items every Monday. On Valentine's Day in 2009 the company sold five million images of roses that players could give to their friends. Each one cost about two dollars. In Zynga's Texas HoldEm, players who want more chips than they're allocated each day pay real money to get them, even though there is no way to remove winnings from Facebook. there were $300 million in such transactions in 2009. Much of this is spent to buy an upgrade to a more advanced level of a game, or to buy virtual goods, like a fancier shoe to kick your friend in KickMania. Playfish's Pet Society game, where users set up houses to display their pets, releases new virtual items every Monday. On Valentine's Day in 2009 the company sold five million images of roses that players could give to their friends. Each one cost about two dollars. In Zynga's Texas HoldEm, players who want more chips than they're allocated each day pay real money to get them, even though there is no way to remove winnings from Facebook. Numerous Facebook games have revenue Numerous Facebook games have revenue exceeding $3 million per month. exceeding $3 million per month.

Savvy marketers have also realized that Facebook applications are a free way to get in front of consumers. That's why the Washington Post Company did its Political Compass. When Bob Dylan released a new album in 2008, his record label created an application that used old footage of him as a young man holding a series of signs. Facebook users could put their own message on the signs and then host the film on their profile.

In turning its network into a platform for whatever any outside developer wants to build, Facebook has created many new capabilities but also a new set of risks. For all their usefulness and entertainment value, applications on Facebook are often cavalier about how they treat user data. Frequently when users install an app they give it essentially blanket permission to extract data from their profile. But once that data is in the hands of the developer the user loses all control of what happens to it. Facebook has just begun to take steps to deal with this problem. The limits for what is and isn't acceptable remain unclear, and predatory applications continue to arise that take unnecessary liberties, often in order to make personal data available to outside marketers who pay for access to it. It's another piece in the complicated puzzle of Facebook privacy. Says Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center: "Facebook and its business partners learn lots about us, but we know very little about them or about what information of ours is collected and how it's used."

As more and more software companies embrace the platform and as Facebook's dominance of social network computing spreads around the globe, the company's platform strategy is rapidly evolving. Its long-term plan is that fewer and fewer applications will operate inside Facebook's own walls. Now a service called Facebook Connect enables any website to tap into users' information and network of friends, and send reports of user activity back into News Feeds on Facebook. The company increasingly is encouraging partners to tap into Facebook that way. So far more than 80,000 websites already do, including about half of the largest ones worldwide. Zuckerberg's long-desired platform strategy has been paying off.

12.

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