Facebook’s Mighty Takeover


Written by Onjuli Datta
16 Monday 16th August 2010

After the movie, the ‘Like’ button, and the weird thing with the Raoul Moat fans, you might feel unsure of what to expect next from Facebook. Never to disappoint, though, the mother of all social networking sites is taking another huge step for bored teenagers everywhere. Geolocation is going to rock your world – say hello to Facebook Places.
Facebook Places is similar to FourSquare. You can go to places, “check-in” so your friends know you’re there, rate them, comment on them, and generally spew your opinions all over the internet as fast as your fingers can hit the keys. It’s an obvious attempt by the company to muscle in on FourSquare’s block, casting its influence ever further over us all.
Facebook itself is remaining ominously quiet about the whole thing. "We are working on location features and product integrations, which we'll be launching in the coming months, and we'll share more details when appropriate," Larry Yu, Facebook spokesman, told CNET. Well, while the gang gets to work on Operation: Money Grab, the guys down at FourSquare are probably boarding up their windows in fear. They’re preparing for the awful might of Facebook to smash down on them. Because it will be mighty. And it could be awful.
Why should we care about FourSquare’s demise, though? It’s just a dumb app, and you only got it because your girlfriend said it was cool, and you’ve only used it like two times to try to blag a free coffee. But don’t dismiss this just yet. Think about it. First Facebook takes down FourSquare – and then it gets more ambitious. It goes for Youtube. It goes for Google. It goes for Twitter (it sort of has already - @reply tagging, anyone?). Before you know it, Facebook owns the NHS, the government, and eventually, your own freakin’ soul.
Gary Shteyngart is a writer who was born in Soviet Russia, and so has already had some experience of evil totalitarian oppressors. He recently wrote a book about just this theory. In Super Sad True Love Story, everybody in the near-future is completely dependent on a gizmo called the äppärät, which is like the iPhone on steroids. It monitors everything, from your personal health to the people around you. It’s a pretty big part of your life. Through this society, books, and anything else that requires deep thinking at all, become meaningless and irrelevant. We become content, but vacant. We’re the sheep.
That of course is mostly fiction, and not very message-minded fiction either. As Shteyngart told The LA Times himself, “My goal is to entertain readers, maybe with thoughts behind it." But the thoughts are still important ones that we should probably think about taking notice of. And maybe cut down on the apps a little bit. Because if we let the social networks take over, then we really will cross the tipping point into total internet dependence. And then the machines will have won.

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