LeWeb: Is Facebook Evil?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Ethan Beard

My, Le Web is breaking its reputation for softball interviews this year. Mike Arrington is busy putting Ethan Beard, Director of the Facebook Developer Network, on the rack over a number of questions, not least “is Facebook evil?”

“I think the fact that you ask a question like that is a testament to how much people care about Facebook, how much it’s part of their lives,” says Beard. Which isn’t actually a “no”…

He’s also grilled Beard on the mobile phone issue; Beard is “ready to deny” that there’s a Facebook Phone coming. He wouldn’t give a strong opinion on the future of Windows Phone 7, but did say that it was too early to say that iPhone and Android have won.

Ah, interesting question: which industry will be disrupted by social next. Beard makes the point that Zynga has disrupted the games industry by building social into what they do from day one. He’s not willing to commit on which industry will be next, but he suggests that it’ll be done in the same way: a smart entrepreneur, launching with social in the forefront of what they do. Arrington throws a line baited with music, but gets not much more than a statement that Spotify’s Facebook integration has been great for the service.

10,000 sites are added to Facebook Connect every day! “We’re not trying to move the entire web into Facebook, we’re trying to make the entire web social,” says Beard. However, on the application front, he suggested that, based on user expectations, it’s better to build inside Facebook than add Facebook functionality into an external product, if you’re starting fresh.

They’re also pushing hard on Facebook Credits. There’s only around 100 applications using them right now, but their focus has been on getting everyone onto that platform, using the credits, and then they have the scale to make them useful both to users and developers. “The transition is not necessarily fun, but everyone knows that the end game is worth it.”

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.