Are You Immune From the Law like Facebook, Google, et al?
Contrary to what most people think, Google is a publisher. Even with the “official” launch of Google Knol, something else caught more of my attention last week.
During the Facebook “f8” developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Connect, a service where other Web sites will accept a user’s Facebook log-in information and then send back that information to Facebook so advertising can be better targeted to the user. Basically, this is Beacon 2.0.
Investors continue to be wowed by new technology first, revenue second. Zuckerberg apparently admitted that the company isn’t focused on monetization right now and will be looking to extend the platform’s reach. Perhaps the folks pouring money into the Facebooks of the world should also pay attention to the omnipotent attitude that apparently allows these companies to not worry about breaking any laws or invading someone’s privacy.
As I write this, the Pennsylvania Attorney General is reviewing almost 200 MySpace accounts of registered sex offenders, while the Italian government has sued Google-owned YouTube for 500 million euros for illegal distribution of audio and video controlled by the country’s prime minister.
Facebook also last week pulled the plug on the Scrabulous game after its creators were sued by Hasbro for copyright and trademark infringement, while at the same time behavioral ad targeting companies continued to come under scrutiny. Yet, Facebook and others still receive more money from investors.
Whether it’s a Minnesota town telling Google Maps to get lost, Facebook facing more than 20 breaches of privacy laws in Canada or other instances of ignorance, my bet is that when the bubble bursts again, it will be the attitude of these companies’ leaders that will eventually catch up with them.
Mr. Zuckerberg, meet Bubba.