This is probably the most far-fetched pitch I’ve heard yet: a social network billing itself as an alternative to Facebook, created by MySpace alumni.
MySpace, for the few of you that don’t know, literally was the Facebook alternative until Facebook beat them at their own game.
Now there are plenty of social applications looking to fill gaps in Facebook’s experience. There are even a few that are trying to use privacy as the key selling point, just as Altly is.
However, most of these startups never received traction and thus never received an investment of any significant size. Altly appears to be the exception, starting off with a round of funding from some influential investors.
I can understand where the investors are coming from: Use Facebook’s branding to build a brand off of being “the alternative.” Unfortunately, it’s a horrible idea.
Rather than actually launching anything, the company is making its big debut with a long blog post which is nothing more then a rant about why Facebook sucks.
Dmitry Shapiro, the former MySpace executive behind the project, has so many connected friends that he was actually able to convince some of them to give him money on the basis of hatred against Facebook.
Shapiro’s blog post ranting about why Facebook sucks is so long that he needed to post a follow-up summary at the end of it. Rather than posting his summary, I’ve decided to take the liberty to translate what he’s really saying — I’m going to alternate between quoting him and then commenting:
Many people are friends with their co-workers, their bosses, business partners, and casual acquaintances. In fact, we feel pressured to become friends with all kinds of people that we would not normally have frequent communications with.
Dmitry clearly gave in to the pressure and now his life has suffered because of it. Like he rants:
Facebook makes it difficult to configure privacy settings and to target messages towards specific groups of friends, therefore encouraging us to broadcast our activity to every one of our friends. And since many of us have our share permissions set to friends and friends of friends, a Facebook default, we are inadvertently sharing not only with our friends but also anyone that is friends with them. With the average Facebook member having 130 friends (Source: Facebook statistics May 2011), sharing with friends of friend” means that you are not just sharing with your 130 friends but with 16,900 people.
In other words, “I’m mad because I accidentally broadcasted out something that I didn’t want one of my friends to see. I really have no idea to use Facebook’s privacy settings and frankly I could have made $1,000 in the time it would have taken me to configure them.” He also says:
To add to the complexity of understanding who sees our personal information and interactions, Facebook has a long history of changing privacy settings, without first alerting users, and exposing our private information in ways that we did not intend.
Get mad! Facebook is screwing you over and you have to put up with it. Do you really want to live life being pressured by Facebook when you are sitting in front of your computer? Hell no. I’m leaving and you should too. Who’s coming with me?! Nobody? Okay, well how about this:
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive officer, claims that Facebook is simply creating a tool that facilitates our natural movement away from privacy. What he fails to acknowledge is that Facebook EXERTS its power over how we communicate and is FORCING social norms to change.
Mark Zuckerberg is telling you how to communicate. Are you going to put up with that?!
A recent CNN story titled “Young job-seekers hiding their Facebook pages” says that “A recent survey commissioned by Microsoft found that 70 percent of recruiters and hiring managers in the United States have rejected an applicant based on information they found online.”
People should be able to act like stupid idiots and it should have no repercussions on them! Don’t you want to act stupid? I know I do! Come join me on Altly where you can act stupid all the time and nobody will see it! (We know the real reason nobody will see it: nobody will be on it.)
Facebook, by forcing our communications to be more and more public, creates an environment where they can allow advertisers to better target advertising to us. Targeting of ads online is not new, but the amount of information that is collected by Facebook, and then exposed to advertisers for targeting purposes is DRAMATICALLY beyond that of any service that has ever existed.
Look, I know that MySpace used your information to target ads to you . But seriously, folks, Facebook has much more data than MySpace ever did and it’s far better structured! (Damn, Facebook was smart.) Do you really want Facebook knowing all that stuff about you?!
There is clearly nothing wrong with Facebook making money, as all business has to do. What IS clearly wrong is when our privacy, our personal information, our digital lives are being subjugated for the sake of profit, without us having any meaningful capability to opt out, or even know the extent of such activity.
Have you ever tried deleting your Facebook account? Go and try it! Your account is never disappearing and Facebook is going to keep your information even if you don’t want it to.
In fact, they’re going to sneak under your bed and when you are sleeping they are going to steal your wallet. (Someone says, “Really?”) Yes, Really … Facebook would steal your wallet, and your lover. You better hide yo’ kids and yo’ wife, because Facebook is coming after you!!
Now that you know that the Facebook boogeyman is coming for you, don’t you want an alternative? Hell yeah, you do. Well at Altly, we’ve got the solution that will make your life less miserable. Get this, we honor your privacy! That’s right, we are going to let you control who can see the 10 million photos, status updates, messages, comments, likes, wall posts, and all the virtual cows you purchased in FarmVille.
When will it launch? I have no idea because building a system this complex required me to get $1 million before I even started building it. How will we make money? We don’t! We are here to make your life better and that’s all you need to know.