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Last week, Facebook was caught red handed using a prominent PR firm to engage in a smear campaign against Google.
Burson-Marsteller, which is owned by WPP, was retained by Facebook in an effort to call attention to a number of privacy-related issues with Google.
If you've been paying attention to the massive valuations being given to companies like Facebook and Twitter through secondary markets and the easy money that's being lavished on new startups in Silicon Valley these days, you're not surprised at the latest generation of entrepreneurs seeking to become the next Mark Zuckerbergs.
Bubble or not, good times are here again for the time being, and this time around, the good times have built up a new phenomenon: the Cult of the Entrepreneur.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is the CEO of the world's largest social network, and, on paper, one of the world's richest people. His creation, started more than seven years ago in a Harvard dorm room, has changed the face of the internet and impacted the lives of millions of millions of people around the world.
For that, TIME Magazine's editorial board decided that Zuckerberg should be 2010 Person of the Year.
Soon, the story of the world's largest social network, Facebook, will be told in one of the most prominent formats: the big screen.
The Hollywood depiction of how Mark Zuckerberg and company started Facebook and built it into a billion dollar company is not exactly welcome news, however, for Facebook and Zuckerberg. The reason: The Social Network arguably contains as much fiction as truth, and casts Facebook's CEO in a fairly unimpressive light.
Facebook has a long battered history with its customers. Users are so notoriously uppity about any minor change to Facebook's interface or settings that there's a satiric group on the site called I AUTOMATICALLY HATE THE NEW FACEBOOK HOME PAGE.
But Mark Zuckerberg's social network stepped in it when it launched instant personalization last month. The privacy settings that were unwieldy, confusing and obtuse. It's gotten so bad that the company's CEO penned an op-ed in the Washington Post to address the issue.
Starting tomorrow, new "drastically simplified" privacy controls will be available. But privacy problems at Facebook are likely to continue. That's because Facebook views privacy as a moving target defined by its bottom line rather than its commitment to users.
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be the most successful 26 year-old technology entrepreneur in the world right now, but he sure isn't making it look easy. His company finds itself being attacked for its position on user privacy, and the attacks have turned personal.
While Zuckerberg's character has been called into question before, the increased scrutiny on Facebook seems to be producing a steady stream of facts that don't show Zuckerberg in the best light.
Facebook has sat by and watched as prominent application developers
have made millions upon millions of dollars on its platform, primarily
through virtual currency. Not surprisingly, Facebook wants a piece of
the action and is moving to take a piece of the action.
But that may not be so easy if the results of early deal making efforts are any indication. Application developer Zynga, which operates some of the most popular social gaming apps on Facebook, including Farmville and Mafia Wars, may leave Facebook and set up its own gaming social network after negotiations with Facebook over the use of Facebook's upcoming universal payments and credits system reportedly fell apart.
Facebook isn't just a social network. By almost every reasonable standard, it is officially the winner of the social networking wars. While other popular social networks, including MySpace, may not disappear into the void completely, Facebook has left them in the dust.
But the war to become the world's dominant online social network is just one battle in a larger war that seeks to shape the future of the web. And Facebook is gearing up for battle.
Facebook's changes to the way it deals with privacy and sharing settings represent a major shift in the type of social networking Facebook is encouraging its users to engage in.
The company has long prided itself on giving users the ability to control who sees what you share on its network and even went so far as to create a privacy regime that many found overly complicated.
When you think of the word 'entrepreneur', who do you see? You might be inclined to think of a hungry 20-something who dropped out of college to follow his or her dream.
But according to a study (PDF) released by the Kauffman Foundation, it's not young people who are driving entrepreneurial activity in the United States. No, it's Baby Boomers.
By almost all metrics, Facebook is the top dog in the social networking market. Even though it's now 5 years old, it's still growing like a weed and there's no reason to believe that its growth is going to subside anytime soon.
But is the company increasingly troubled?
Facebook recently rolled out a new design that, in the eyes of some, represents a fundamental shift for the world's largest social network.
The new design places an emphasis on showing Facebook users real-time updates of their friends' latest online activities. Some suggest this is Facebook's response to the growing popularity of Twitter.