Facebook Isn't So Sure It Wants to Be a Platform for Revolutionaries

By Alexis C. Madrigal

The Washington Post has an interesting take today on whether or not Facebook is embracing its role as the platform of choice for activists in the Middle East. They don't have any direct evidence from inside the company, but I suspect that Facebook's ambivalence is real. The site's heart is not configured to deal with the kind of problems Egyptian activists encounter.

It's not that Facebook's developers or product managers would have antipathy for protesters and/or revolutionaries in the Arab world. It's more that they can't even begin to imagine those use cases. And in the drive to provide a consistent user experience across all geographies, Facebook defaults to flattening out difference.

I'm reporting in California this week, but expect a lot more on this issue in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here's the key Post excerpt:

But Facebook, which celebrates its seventh birthday Friday and has more than a half-billion users worldwide, is not eagerly embracing its role as the insurrectionists' instrument of choice. Its strategy contrasts with rivals Google and Twitter, which actively helped opposition leaders communicate after the Egyptian government shut down Internet access.

The Silicon Valley giant, whether it likes it or not, has been thrust like never before into a sensitive global political moment that pits the company's need for an open Internet against concerns that autocratic regimes could limit use of the site or shut it down altogether.

Read the full story at theĀ Washington Post.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/02/facebook-isnt-so-sure-it-wants-to-be-a-platform-for-revolutionaries/70694/