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Are Singaporeans Bitten By The Facebook Bug?

November 25th, 2007 by Wai Loong (Add Your Comment)

If you haven’t heard about Facebook by now, you’re probably have been living under the rock, or has completely ignored the fast and evolving pace of web technologies.

Every day, thousands of Singaporeans are being seduced onto Facebook and got hooked onto addictive applications such as games. Everyone’s talking about it over lunch and coffee!

Just why are Singaporeans so “into” this unique social networking platform?

My gut feel is – one can find 2 or more ways to look at the same book – or rather Facebook.

Facebook on Mark Zuckerberg - 01

#1. Majority/Crowd Behavior

The majority sees it as an excellent social networking tool to increase cohesiveness between members of an organization, or to find long lost friends for all other personal reasons. Others use it for entertainment or some form of substitution for instant messaging and email applications.

#2. Business Opportunity?

On the other hand, this Facebook thing is a huge business opportunity for early adopters!

Like a cat pouncing onto a mouse, business owners and individual startups are already rolling up their sleeves on this coming stampede.

So many software developers have now turned their resources to helping marketers create viral applications to promote their products and services. Almost every major internet marketers have their own Facebook profiles, newbies alike are piling up daily.

Even academics are not spared.

Just yesterday, the local news reported NUS (National University of Singapore) to be the first local institute to offer a Facebook application design and programming course coming in semester 2 of 2008!

Here’s a quote from the NUS academic page that offers this brand new module:

CS3216: Software Development on Evolving Platforms
Semester 2, AY2007/08 (January-May 2008)
Modular Credits: 4 MCs
Workload: 1-1-0-5-3

Pre-requisites: A good grade in CS1101 or its equivalent, or strong design background with instructor’s approval. To ensure a diversity of experience and background in the class, students will submit personal statements to apply for a place in the course instead of bidding through the CORS system.

Starting AY2007/2008 Semester 2, the NUS School of Computing will be offering a new course on Facebook Programming! This new module is not your traditional software engineering course. Enrollment will be open to students of all faculties and students will work in small inter-disciplinary teams to create their killer Facebook applications. Programming experience for non-SoC students is not a pre-requisite (since work will be done in teams).

This 4-MC module is suitable for students with a strong programming background and high confidence in picking up new programming languages on-the-fly, and students who do not have extensive programming experience but who have a strong design background or entrepreneurial aspirations.

Source: CS3216: Software Development on Evolving Platforms

Phwee! That’s a lot of heat isn’t it? But there’s more…

If you’re thinking of investing in Facebook Inc once it goes IPO, watch out! It could turn out to be Internet bubble Part II! However, Facebook can be as destructive at the micro level as it would for technology markets.

Q: How Does The Facebook Bug Affects You?

If you’re already bitten by the Facebook bug, here are some warnings that you may choose to listen. If not, it’s always good to learn a tip or two!

In general, Facebook is a tool that suggest non-productivity. You’ll most likely spend loads of time online trying to pet each other’s pet or kick your friend’s ass (opps, sorry for the putt!).

Answer: 1, 2, 3…

#1. Loss of Productivity

If you value productivity while you’re working on your business or job, do not ever logon to socialize or play games! You may be caught by your bosses if you’re employed by someone, or it’ll affect your business if you’re running one. It may drains your energy away while you’re deeply engaged.

I vaguely remembered the agony many colleagues faced when the company’s IT department shut off access to Yahoo and Hotmail.

Until today, we developers have great difficulty in accessing certain sourceforge projects from the office. It’s only a matter of time when the staffs of IT department paralyze everyone by using a whitelist system instead of blacklisting to block off unproductive sites such as YouTube or torrent sites such as The Pirates Bay.

What about Facebook?

I’m not sure about that for now. Maybe the heat of Facebook may not have yet triggered the bandwidth limit detector on the IT department watch monitor?

MSN may be blocked by many organizations, but IM over Facebook or any other Web 2.0 portals are not. Eventually, Facebook may be just as destructive and get banned by major organizations.

#2. Identity Squatting/Theft

If you’ve been bitten by the Facebook bug already, try logging into your account and do this exercise. Find the search box on the left and type in your first name.

Viola! There’s a high chance that you’ll see lots of duplicated <Your First Name> or profiles in Facebook lingo. I did a quick search myself and I see no less than 20++ “Wai Loong” already on Facebook! Fortunately, there’re not one “Ng Wai Loong” that has found a foothold yet and I’m proud to be the first one!

No hard feelings – really! As in any free services, you’ll be lucky enough to be the first and possibly only one to use that identity. Unfortunately, Facebook is much more forgiving…

Search Facebook for Ng Wai Loong - 01

Anyone CAN create a profile based on your name and stick a photo of you, masquerading your true identity! Now, that’s really disturbing isn’t it? Of course, in the hypothetical example above, I’ve just conjured it up with some magic from my graphics editing tool so please don’t be alarmed!

As of now, Facebook has no measure to sort out between the fake and the real. You’ve got to take that pro-actively to protect yourself.

One measure you can take is to establish yourself quickly and get all your siblings and friends to confirm your relationships with them as early as possible. That way, a fake profile will be easily to see through by your friends and acquaintances.

#3. Your Online Privacy

Let’s face it!
(We’re still on the topic of the face bug isn’t it?)

Once you start using Facebook, or any social networking portal, you’ll lose quite a bit of privacy should you enable your profile for public viewing.

In this case, privacy is a double edge sword.

Take for example, if you’re running a business. Exposing your profile may actually help to drive traffic to your products or services. If you’re operating a low traffic site, slapping your feed on your profile and exchanging feeds with similar and non-competing business owners may actually help!

Then again, there’s Facebook Pages where you can expose and connect your business to your prospects, fans and customers.

Given a choice, I’ll recommend setting up Facebook Pages over putting it onto your private profile. Why?

Your private profile may be protected behind PHP logins while letting loose your public profile can be easily indexed by search engines.

Finally, keeping your profile private from public views may actually harms you in some ways. That’s especially true if you too shy and decide not to put a picture of your face that associates to your own profile. Some even think it’s cute to put a baby face, or anything they fancy except for their own.

And if you think that’s dumb, you’re in for a surprise!

There’re literally millions of users out there who simply signs up, twiddle a little with Facebook for while and goes back to sleep. It’s pretty hard for any long-lost friends that genuinely wants to seek you out find before capable of identifying you.

Keeping your profile private on the other hand is just as bad as the sloth user above. Remember the issue of identity squatting I’ve discussed above? It may not be too long before this becomes a cyber criminal problem if nothing is done to protect all genuine users.

The best solution is to tweak and control your privacy settings that expose just enough information for your friends to identify you. Facebook provides a complete list of settings that you can tweak rather than shutting out your friends as most people have done on their profile settings.

Facebook Privacy Settings - 01
>>> Click image for bigger view <<<

If you desire greater control, you may also choose to allow only your network of friends to see which of the applications you’ve installed on your profile. For special applications that you think is private only for your eyes, you may consider setting it up using the above privacy settings.

Whatever you choose to do, I sincerely trust that you too, will embrace and enjoy the tremendous changes that’s happening around now, and also well into the future!

Have an excellent week ahead and do keep your comments rolling in!

And always remember… Live a life with passion!

Posted in Geek Hacks, Life

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About Insights, Inspirations, Tranquility, Peace and Harmony

Ng Wai Loong

Wai Loong is an electronics engineer by profession. He currently resides in Singapore, a thriving hub at the heart of South-East Asia. When he is not so stress out on the computers or laboratory, he enjoys value reading, jogging at his own pace and blogging in his spare time. Other times, he likes to catch up with some close friends over a cup of latte or teh tarik. As a gift from this friend, you are invited to interact freely with him on his personal blog.

PS: May the person reading this blog transforms his/her businesses, finances, relationships and life for ALL to WIN!