People purport not to trust the site, but they continue to use it. Is a lack of trust holding Facebook back?
From pretty early on in its short history, Facebook has had issues with privacy. And though the company has made privacy controls a more central part of its offerings in the intervening years, a new poll out today -- just days before the company's IPO -- shows that nearly 60 percent of people surveyed say they have little or no trust in Facebook.
What are the effects of this distrust? Does it undermine the company's capacity to monetize its massive user base? On the surface at least, it seems that people are willing to use Facebook regardless -- it's nearing on a billion users, after all. Perhaps people have just made their peace with Facebook, and decided that despite whatever hang-ups they have about the company, it's worth it to them to be on the site anyway.
But the real effect of the trust gap will be seen less in the number of people on Facebook than in what those people do once they're there -- and what they will do there will be far more important to the company's revenue over time than an ever-expanding user base. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained in a recent video, Facebook's strategy is to power a "world where every product experience you have is social," meaning that "almost every app that you use is going to be integrated with Facebook in some way." In order to achieve that vision, Facebook will either need people to hold their noses and share despite their privacy concerns, or it will need to get that 59 percent figure much lower.