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The Two Faces of Facebook

Posted October. 07, 2010 03:47,   


“A friend is looking for you on Facebook.” People inexperienced with the social networking service are often alarmed to receive such e-mail messages and instantly delete them. Masters of Facebook instantly become friends with people who share common interests. The moment someone registers his or her e-mail address with the service, this “faceless technology” not only searches for one’s alumni through information on alma maters with countless calculations of its own, but also finds people with common interests, ask them “you know each other, right?” and encourages them to become friends. Likewise, Facebook is two-faced in that it can be both friendly and burdensome.

“Social Network,” a movie about Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, topped the North American box office in its premiere last week. In the movie, Zuckerberg, 26, is described as an extremely selfish and unethical figure who became rich by stealing ideas from upper and lowerclassmen while studying at Harvard University. On Sept. 24, he announced that he would donate 100 million U.S. dollars to support public education reform in New Jersey. Critics say he has acted like a nice guy since previews of the movie were shown.

According to a Washington Post article on Facebook, calling Zuckerberg the creator of the site is unfair. While working on the project “Harvard Connection” designed to transfer freshmen photo albums online, he created a Web site similar to the service and went independent. Upperclassmen sued him by saying he stole their ideas, then he reached a compromise with them in return for stock options worth tens of millions of dollars. The upperclassmen, however, created their own service by referring to conventional SNS sites such as Club Nexus. In the end, it was Zuckerberg that used beads to make a priceless jewel.

American Web users spend more time on Facebook than any on other online service. Zuckerberg’s personal wealth has snowballed from 200 million dollars last year to 6.9 billion dollars this year. The value of profiles, or compiled personal information, is the factor in Facebook’s astonishing growth and success. Making personal information public, however, could turn into a weapon against oneself. In a speech at a high school last year, U.S. President Barack Obama warned that information uploaded on Facebook could resurface at another point in life, urging the use of caution in Facebook. Writing and photos can never be completely deleted once posted on the Internet.

Editorial Writer Kim Sun-deok (yuri@donga.com)