The Merc is reporting on speculation that Facebook may release its long-awaited initial public stock offering by April 2012. The news follows reports that Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky have invested $500 million in the company, upping its valuation to about $50 billion. The problem facing Facebook is that according to an FDR-era law, the company is required to divulge its financial information as soon as the number of investors tops 500. While Goldman is offering its shares for sale, it is doing so under a “Special Purpose Vehicle,” by which they act as a nominal single shareholder for all of the parties that acquired stock from them.

The big snag in the release of an IPO is Mark Zuckerberg himself. He has frequently said that he is disinclined to surrender Facebook’s privacy—very different from his attitude toward Facebook users’ privacy—and his ultimate control over the company.

But Facebook’s growth may make this inevitable. Danah Boyd of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society argues that, “Facebook is now a utility for many. The problem with utilities is that they get regulated. … People’s language reflects that people are depending on Facebook just like they depended on the Internet a decade ago.” And while Americans are generally loathe to introduce regulation, Canada and Western Europe, two places where Facebook is equally popular, don’t quite have the same American hang-ups. An IPO and the financial disclosure that comes with it could be the first steps toward regulation.
Read More at The Mercury News.

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart addressed the issue last night in his typical no-nonsense style.

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