While the debate on privacy continues to rage on at home and abroad, it has not hindered Facebook from scaling to a half billion users this past week. With only China and India's populations larger, Facebook is the third largest 'nation' in the world? But with no land to defend and a citizenry not bound by any government, how could a social network rank third in followers globally?
Like 'The Mouse That Roared' the idea that took root in small dorm room with 4000 email addresses to scale to a virtual army of netizens some six years later is an unfathomable achievement. And as a direct result, with all its flaws and shortcomings, Facebook is acting more and more like a sovereign state as time goes on.
A recent Economist report quotes David Post, a law professor at Temple University as stating that Facebook "is a device that allows people to get together and control their own destiny, much like a nation-state." Similar to ages past, when followers followed monarchies and spiritual leaders (sometimes blindly), today's age of social media and networking with online communities allows us to form the same type of common bond with anonymous comrades.
Facebook CreditsNation-building generally requires a common language and an accepted form of currency. Facebook superseding its less successful predecessors MySpace and Friendster has led the charge in defining what users can expect in terms of 'friending' others and how even an old concept like 'privacy' needed to evolve and take on a new meaning. Relating to financial exchange, Facebook Credits is looking to streamline transactions online that according to a recent ReadWriteWeb report is "in effect, paving the path to the world's first global currency."
Chris Morrison at Bnet notes that, "in the future, we may pay for some goods not with dollars, yen or euros, but with Facebook Credits." For nations to be solvent and flourish in today's global economy they need to have a monetary system that can be trusted and operate in a surplus. Facebook Credits is an ingenious plan to keep Facebook's coffers in the black. With every Facebook Credit transaction, 30 percent is added to Facebook's treasury.
Allowing the millions more users to scale even faster next year versus the last six, Facebook's umbrella credits' program will clearly lower the adoption barrier for millions of new international users, who will now be able to purchase credits from one single source and spend them on games and apps across the platform.
As a threat to both Google in Internet dominance and PayPal as a global currency leader, Facebook is gaining more and more traction as a flourishing sovereign state. However, with Mark Zuckerberg as the self-appointed leader and his mission to make a world more open and transparent, many doubt his real motives. Dissimilar to a nation "for the people," some view it as less than altruistic.
For all his talk of a "global village" as prophesied by the futurist Marshall McLuhan, he hasn't convinced his followers that his goals are forthright. Amassing this kind of wealth, for a private company who only has only to report to its investors is a 'heady' environment for any world leader to operate within.
In Ben Mezrich's biopic narrative "Accidental Billionaire. . ." he describes Zuckerberg's plot to to orchestrate a digital revolution as a reaction to his formative years of being considered "socially autistic" and "uncomfortable in his own skin." In 2004, on launching Facebook, Zuckerberg awarded himself the rock star "bad boy" monikers of "founder, master, commander and enemy of the state." Today, as the leader of over a half a billion, the power that is attached to such a lofty position should require some checks and balances, less we all choose to be led by someone who's current business card warns the world: "I'm CEO - Bitch".