Facebook's Evil, Genius Plan to Own Your Life

When I heard the news last week that Facebook bought FriendFeed, a niche social network, my first reaction was that it was one of those logical tech mergers that made sense, but not much difference. But this weekend, I read not two articles alleging that the purchase potentially sets the stage for Facebook to become the Internet's defining social media portal, with tentacles stretching so far and wide throughout the web that it would take on the current king of the net: Google. How?

First, let's break down the purchase. What is FriendFeed? It is a portal that aggregates your friends' online activities. On one page, you can keep track of what your buddies are writing on Twitter, reading on Digg, photo-posting on Flickr, and so on. You can imagine how that kind of aggregation could dovetail with Facebook. Imagine an additional page on to your friend's profile that says here's everything I'm doing on the Internet. And you can also imagine how that kind of aggregation could be gangbusters for advertising. The holy grail of online advertising is to master consumers' online behavior (the sites they not only visit, but also say: I like this!) and market to their demonstrated interests and activities. By combining Facebook -- which already asks users to list their favorite books, movies and activities -- with FriendFeed -- which shares all your other social media activity throughout the rest of the Internet -- you're getting close to providing a one-stop shop for web user's complete online identity.

Chadwick Matlin, with The Big Money, pens an awesome bit of techie analysis where he predicts that Facebook will become the Huffington Post of social media. What does that even mean? Think about HuffPo: It's a collage of news drawn from across the web. Rather than click through a dozen websites, HuffPo rakes all the best content onto one portal and then you click through to the original website to read the news article.

How would that work for social media? If Facebook became the home for following all your friends' online activity -- their Tweets, their photos, their favorite articles -- you might consider entering the social media world through Facebook. That would make Facebook "one portal to rule them all," writes Matlin.

That's how Facebook is aiming to become the next Google, writes Tony Bradley for PC World. Where Google has endeavored to own the way you work online -- with Google Search, Gmail and Google Docs -- Facebook is aiming to corner the market on the way you play -- a clearinghouse for your friends, photos and favorite everything. And if Facebook could make that kind of information pay with targeted ads, then the game would really be on between two online juggernauts.