If You Bought Facebook Stock a Month Ago, You're Up 13% (But So What?)

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The stock moves up and down, the company remains.

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Because everyone was gleefully jumping on Facebook's grave as it slid 17 percent during its first month of trading, I just wanted to point out that the company's share price has been doing well.

This is not to prove that somehow Facebook's fortunes have changed a ton since the stock debuted. It's more to say that following the twitches of any company in the algorithmic froth of the equity markets is a recipe for getting embarrassed.

All those tough arguments about Facebook's problems are still relevant even if the stock is going up. All the boosterish arguments about Facebook's potential still could be realized even if the stock dives again.

I think appealing to recent share price moves is practically an appeal to authority, where the 'expert' is actually the stock market. The assumption built into that idea is that the market is evaluating companies on the same basis as users of or advertisers on Facebook. And they're not.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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