Facebook is, undisputedly, the reigning champ of social media, but could some other company pull the rug out from under it and replace it at the top of the heap? Facebook did it to MySpace, and MySpace did it to Friendster, so why shouldn’t some invisible start-up have a go at them next? Why shouldn’t Facebook feel intimidated by Google’s forays into social networking?
Apparently, this is a main concern among the Facebook crew. It certainly explains why they have been buying up all of Friendster’s old social networking patents and even their patent applications. After all, it was Friendster that first turned the word “friend” into a verb, and showed that you could not only friend a friend. You could friend a friend of a friend too through various degrees of separation.
Friendster began to patent these ideas back in 2006, before Facebook even opened the door to everyone age 13 and older with a valid email address. By then, however, Friendster was on the decline and MySpace was on the ascendant.
By controlling these patents, Facebook could, theoretically, challenge any new social networking start-up in court with patent violation. With all its wealth and power behind it, geeks in garages haven’t got a chance. Google does though, which is probably why Facebook is so intimidated by Google Social.
Then there are federal anti-trust laws. These have already been used against Microsoft, and are being used now against Google in Europe. Could Facebook be next? It is certainly a concern. It is likely the reason why the company hired Tim Muris, chair of the US Federal Trade Commission from 2001 to 2004, best remembered for creating the Do Not Call Registry. Who better than a former head of the FTC to combat any anti-trust charges.