Like people, organizations and companies too have their bad days. In such times, a company would find its touch with the normally appreciative press to be shaky and it gets flak for all mistakes—big and small, when the media honeymoon ends and real life begins.
This seems to be happening with Facebook a lot these days. Not long ago, Facebook was this cool new kid in town with most media sites heaping scorn on rivals like MySpace. Starting with the Beacon fiasco, however, Facebook has seen only combative attitudes from the press and millions of users. People were not the least amused when the Beacon started showing purchases made by them on their friend feeds. After the hue and cry, Facebook withdrew the feature and even though it still gets bad blood over Beacon, it seemed that the worst was behind it.
But Facebook didn’t reckon with the litigious tendencies of its American users. Cathryn Harris was embarrassed when her friend’s feed showed that she had purchased a tacky horror movie from an online retailer blockbuster. We don’t know why she wanted to keep her choice of movies hidden from contacts— perhaps she belonged to a club dedicated to shunning tacky horror movies, but she was very clear on her next step. She went ahead and filed a class action suit against Blockbuster, demanding damages for causing mental pain, agony and invasion of privacy. We are following the case with fingers crossed.
In related news, Facebook is messing up its ad placement algorithms. This became known when a user who had kept his sexual preferences as straight had multiple offers from chat Web sites offering to set him up with gay men. Contextual advertising is how social sites are supposed to earn their revenue, and we can’t help wondering how fudging up something as vital as this is helping their cause. Somebody sure has a lot of explaining to do!