Last week Facebook announced Skype integration allowing for video chat. This new feature will now bring far away friends or old friends together in a new medium through the Facebook community platform. This is a great new feature and one that probably had enormous scale issues to overcome given Facebook’s 700 million user base.
Unfortunately, the Twitterverse, blogosphere and some mainstream media outlets reacted negatively to the announcement. Did everyone forget that having a Facebook account is free? Where did the community member entitlement originate with Facebook? This is not a community where Facebook provides incentives for the membership to execute an action. This is not a community where I upload intellectual property to sell through a conglomerate marketplace to earn revenue. Facebook is a free online social networking community.
When did you last speak face to face with most of your high school classmates? Or your college buddies that live on the other side of the United States or out of the country? Facebook will now make that possible and it is a free feature.
I fully understand that Facebook must comply with privacy regulations and by law I am entitled to those protections. However, as a Facebook community member I do not feel Facebook owes me better features or new features. Of course to stay cutting edge and to continue their dominance they will release new and improved features. However, if a feature is released that does not appeal to me I would never publicly lambast Facebook for the decision to create that feature.
They have a user base of 700 million, so it will be impossible for them to appease everyone with any feature release. That said Facebook should not endure the attacks they received for giving us free video chat capabilities.
Community members need to think before they judge out loud when criticizing the free social networking communities (save legal entitlements such as privacy issues). Yes, Facebook is generating revenue because of their position in the market, but that does not give me the right to widely disseminate disdain of a new feature release.
Do you feel differently? Fire away in the comments.