by Thomas Wailgum

Bill Gates and I Both Say No to Facebook

Feb 12, 20083 mins
Enterprise Applications

You may recall that back in mid-January I listed all of the reasons why I was not joining Facebook, despite an enormous amount of peer pressure. In sum, the work involved and potential time wasted with a Facebook account outweighed my desire to be a part of this social networking cult—I mean, phenomenon.

To my surprise, most of the 20 or so comments to my piece were largely supportive of my rationale, which made me feel better about my decision to abstain.

It turns out, however, that I’m not alone. The Sun reported today that Bill Gates “is off his Facebook.” The article states that while Gates was “hooked” on Facebook, spending some 30 minutes on the site each day, his celebrity status had become a detriment to using the service: He received more than 8,000 friend requests per day, and apparently, the time suck (as I had termed it in my previous column) was too much for him to bear.

Now while Gates and I may have little in common, it seems we both agree that too much is too much when it comes to Facebook.

It should be noted that Microsoft has invested $240 million in Facebook, which shows the company either strongly believes in the site’s appeal or was too scared not to get in on the social-networking action. Whatever the case, it seems like Gates won’t be “eating his own dog food,” with regards to Facebook, which I find intriguing.

Facebook took some other hits this week. A New York Times article stated that “some users have discovered that it is nearly impossible to remove themselves entirely from Facebook, setting off a fresh round of concern over the popular social network’s use of personal data.” It’s like the “Hotel California,” noted Nipon Das, a Facebook user who tried unsuccessfully to delete his Facebook account. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

In addition, another article noted the discontent among the younger generation of social networkers—”the MySpace generation is getting sick of MySpace too.” The problem? Users are growing tired of the burgeoning amount of advertising on social-networking sites. The article cites comScore data that shows that the amount of time the average person spends on social-networking sites dropped 14 percent during the last four months.

By no means am I implying that social networking is dead, or even on the ropes. But chinks in the armor have appeared.

As for me, I’m sticking with Bill Gates on Facebook (well, except for that whole $240 million part).