Now before everybody goes and gets their panties in a bunch let me first say that Facebook isn’t going anywhere. This isn’t some OMG Facebook is going tits up type of post so chill out for a few minutes before thinking about getting out your poison pens.
The fact that there has been a lot of yada yada, blah blah talk about Facebook ever since it turned on it social plugins and modifying the hell out of user’s privacy settings regardless of whether the users wanted the changes or not. Regardless of all the punditry it is more than obvious that none of this uproar is going to seriously affect Facebook to the point that it’s going to disappear for good.
That said one has to wonder though if there could come a point when Facebook has done too much damage to its users trust that while not enough to bring the company to its knees might be enough to imped further serious growth. After all this is the company that has to be the most closely watched of all its counterparts and every single misstep is blogged about as soon as it happens. At what point does the accumulated missteps finally result in the company stumbling from its high pedestal?
Already there are questions and doubts being expressed about features the company has suggested are coming but have yet to hit the service. The newest of these and one that threatens current incumbent start-ups like Foursquare and Gowalla is their Places feature. Even people searching on how to delete their Facebook accounts has become a suggestion in Google searches.
Interestingly enough the loudest voices against Facebook’s newest moves isn’t the usual gang of Social Media digerati but rather people outside of the whole social media sphere and for that matter outside of the tech blogosphere. It’s just the regular Facebook user who is saying that Facebook has gone too far this time.
It is one thing to anger the small yet vocal minority of tech blogger and everything should be open advocates like Robert Scoble but it is another thing entirely when you upset the the larger number of regular users. The vocal minority are easy to ignore. They’ll end up finding something else to amuse themselves with, but anger your core base and you could be in trouble.
As I said in the opening of this post – Facebook isn’t going anywhere. that doesn’t mean though that if they keep trying to push the boundaries the way they are that they won’t at some point step over a line they can’t return from. People can be pushed only so far past their comfort zone before they retaliate and in the case of Facebook that could be very problematic.
While Facebook may never disappear regardless of how much they have crossed the line their growth could be seriously impacted. Then just as Facebook left services like MySpace and even Friendster (which is still big in Southeast Asia) in the dust Facebook could find itself cast adrift as people leave en masse.
Facebook may indeed be too big to fail but I don’t believe that it will ever be that big that it won’t implode in on itself and take its place as an also ran.