This evening CNBC premiered the much hyped documentary, “The Facebook Obsession.” Given the recent Goldman Sachs investment and rumors of public disclosure of financial information next year, there’s no doubt that many on Wall Street tuned in to learn more about the future of the burgeoning social network. Unfortunately there was little to be learned.
The documentary effectively illustrates one thing: Facebook now has a massive impact on the social lives of its 600 million or so users. One interesting statistic which we aren’t quite sure of, is that they claimed Facebook is growing by more than one million users per day. The last public number was 5 million users a week. Aside from that there wasn’t really much that was new. If you’ve read the stories about Facebook over the past year, they all pretty much tell the same things:
- Facebook is big
- Facebook has had a questionable past with pushing the limits of user privacy (something that has been well documented)
- The Facebook movie, The Social Network, isn’t completely true
- People have been reconnected with long-lost relatives through Facebook
- People have been fired from Facebook status updates
- Facebook has had a dramatic impact on world politics, most importantly, the election of Barack Obama
Aside from that, there’s very little you’re going to get out of this documentary. David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, appeared to be the primary source used throughout the documentary. That’s most likely due to the fact that Facebook declined to participate in the show. Despite that, a number of ex-employees including Co-Founder Chris Hughes, and an ex-developer who has since founded Cloudera. The overall tone of the documentary was somewhat sinister, while raising valid questions about Facebook’s intent.
Facebook has no doubt become the primary resource on the social web, and it appears to be the piping which will power the future generation of social applications, many of which have yet to be developed. In the meantime, both small and large media companies, including CNBC, will attempt to convey the story of the company’s phenomenal success in one light or the other. It’ll be the users who determine the final outcome of the company which has skyrocketed to a $50 billion valuation, something that will remain nothing more than a dream for the vast majority of entrepreneurs.