The computer history blog ASCII lays out the meaning of Facebook in the grand scheme of things:
Facebook is the third of what is probably a quartet (or quintet) of the destruction of the innocence of computing. First was viruses, second was malware, third is facebook. I suspect fourth will be related to control of networking itself, and fifth will be licensing of high level computer ability. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Facebook is a living computer nightmare. Just as viruses took the advantages of sharing information on floppies and modems and revealed a devastating undercarriage to the whole process, making every computer transaction suspect… and just as spyware/malware took advantage of beautiful advances in computer strength and horsepower to turn your beloved machine of expression into a gatling gun of misery and assholery… Facebook now stands as taking over a decade and a half of the dream of the World Wide Web and turning it into a miserable IT cube farm of pseudo human interaction, a bastardized form of e-mail, of mailing lists, of photo albums, of friendship. While I can’t really imply that it was going to be any other way, I can not sit by and act like this whole turn of events hasn’t resulted in an epidemic of ruin that will have consequences far-reaching from anything related to archiving.
Each era of computing has had companies that rose above the others, whose stratospheric rise in income and success and mindshare and whatever else marketing fucktards want to call it turned heads. A start-up goes from an eyebrow-raiser to a non-proper noun to a verb. A million asshole salespeople and technological wannabes and pundits and sniffing elites make the word longer, as in “like facebook”. Something is like facebook, does something like facebook, wants to be like facebook, is like facebook but in some way different that somehow will magically propel it in even farther, without realizing that under contemporary situations, facebook is as high up as you want to go.
Microsoft did awful fucking things. I mean, all the time. Really awful things. So did IBM, way back when. Compaq? Assholery. Sony? Doing ten awful fucking things this morning before breakfast. Of course awful things are on the agenda and the lifeblood of any firm so big that it can affect law, affect standards, make millionaires just sucking under its folding metal chair for breadcrumbs. Facebook is just doing it to People.
The old saw is that people don’t understand that Facebook doesn’t consider the users their customers – they consider the advertisers their customers. Make no mistake, this is true… but it implies that Facebook takes some sort of benign “let’s keep humming along and use this big herd of moos to our advantage”. But it doesn’t. Facebook actively and constantly changes up the game, makes things more intrusive, couldn’t give less of a shit about your identity, your worth, your culture, your knowledge, your humanity, or even the cohesive maintenance of what makes you you. Facebook couldn’t care less about you than if it was born in your lower intestine and ripped out of you in the middle of the night.
But the fact that anyone would put anything of any unique nature on there, that matters to them, is beyond insanity – it’s identity suicide. It’s like you are intentionally driving down the road of life, ripping pages of your journal and photo albums, and tossing them out the window. Good luck finding anything again. Good luck knowing in six months, a year, something will even be findable. Try and communicate with anyone using their designed-by-a-second-trimester-fetus “message” system with any of the features from the last 30 years. Go back and try and negotiate it for search and topic control and usefulness. No. Not happening. Everything on Facebook is Now. Nothing, and I mean nothing on Facebook is Then. Or even last month.
So asking me about the archiving-ness or containering or long-term prospect of Facebook for anything, the answer is: none. None. Not a whit or a jot or a tiddle. It is like an ever-burning fire of our memories, gleefully growing as we toss endless amounts of information and self and knowledge into it, only to have it added to columns of advertiser-related facts we do not see and do not control and do not understand.