In the latest bloviation-fest (see Techmeme) over how to integrate user profiles and friends lists from social networking sites, Facebook's getting creamed.
If feels like almost yesterday that Leslie Stahl was cooing over Mark Zuckerberg. And how about the crowd rallying behind their boy when Sarah Lacy tried to ego-hog his keynote interview at South by Southwest.
But that's ancient history now and Facebook is coming off badly since it began blocking Google's Friend Connect last week. And just to make sure that we didn't forget that Google was on the side of the angels, the company's put up a detailed primer over the weekend of how its code doesn't do any evil. (We're from Google and we just wanna help.)
All the while, Facebook's mostly missing in action. After issuing a vaporware post briefly describing the features Facebook's leadership has remained in a veritable bunker while the blog echo chamber continues to scream with rage.
Even a Microsofter like Dare Obasanjo is getting into the act with a sniffy comparison of the (apparently insufficient) approaches adopted by Facebook, MySpace, and Google. (You know things are getting bleak when a guy from Microsoft starts tut-tutting about interoperability.)
Steve Gillmor makes it plain in the first paragraph of his post about this novella:
Facebook finally has a real problem to deal with - an exceptionally rational and well-thought-out strategy by Google that puts the leading social media cloud in the path of a wave of angry users. The only thing Facebook has going for it is that said users don't yet know they're angry.
He's got that right. I don't have a dog in this fight, but it's plain to see that Facebook is letting the conversation slip away. We've seen this before. This is just another chapter in Silicon Valley's endless saga of power grabs and some guys are getting painted with white hats, others with black hats. Right now, COO Sheryl Sandberg ought to be holding her lieutenants' feet to the fire. When billion-dollar enterprises like Google or Microsoft have no trouble painting themselves as being on the side of the people, you know you're in trouble. Meanwhile, yesterday's fan fave is now widely portrayed as a clueless bully. As Loren Feldman's sock puppet send-up is wont to say, "fascinating."