Something like this, I suspect, happened to Windows during the past decade as Microsoft struggled to cope with the emergence of the web. The company’s vast promotional campaigns for Windows tended to focus as much on the company’s achievements as the benefits conferred upon users. The self-regarding nature of these campaigns told us something about the company’s attentuated links with its customers.
It’s time, I suspect, to ask a similar question about Facebook. Does Mark Zuckerberg understand that his company’s future increasingly depends not so much on its ability to churn out killer code, but on its ability to treat users right?
People aren’t stupid. Users who care about these things know what to expect from a company that has altered its privacy policies to suit itself on multiple occasions during the past five years. A few months ago, the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked its readers to coin neologisms for “the act of creating deliberately confusing jargon and user-interfaces which trick your users”. Here’s a selection of what came back: “Zuckermining”, “Infozuckering”, “Zuckerpunch”, “Facebooking”, “Facebaiting” and “Facebunk”.