February 17th, 2011
01:10 AM GMT
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Over the course of the last week Egyptian protestors have credited Facebook for helping them organize and over throw the government.

Talking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Wael Ghonim said he’d like to meet Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him. Facebook has played down its role, saying it was, “their bravery and determination [of protesters] that mattered most.”

The revolution that took place in Tunisia and then in Cairo must be a dream come true for Zuckerberg, who predicted two years ago that social media would change “how people relate to government and their leadership.”

But it may turn out to be a nightmare for the tech giant’s many investors.

“These companies also have to grow, they have to expand in China, they have to expand internationally and for them it is not really a good marketing move …to be the digital equivalent of Radio Free Europe,” says Evgeny Morozov, the author of “The Net Delusion.”

Sree Sreenivasan of Columbia University agrees. ”I don’t think revolutions and business go hand in hand,” Sreenivasan says. “I think there will be a lot of countries looking at this idea of Facebook coming in and helping their people overthrow their governments and say…we don’t want that here.”

Should Facebook care?

Right now it is a private company and answers to only a limited number of investors. But an initial public offering is expected within the next year. Is a $50 billion valuation justified if they are closed out of non-democratic countries? Or does the experience in Cairo underscore its importance?

What do you think? Is revolution bad for business? Have Tunisia and Cairo changed the way you think about Facebook?



soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Nathan Hale

    First, other social networks have existed before facebook, it s natural progrssion btu a $50 billion evaluation is plain ridiculous. ALthought there may be 500 million accounts, the number of real users are a fraction of that. That 500 Million is close to that number of Hotmail accounts, for example. If Faceboook had 500 MIlllion users, a US $100 value per account is needed for a $50 billion evaluation, it is far more likely its value is 10 cents, not even one dollar.

    Let Facebook demonstrate earnings, then decide it monetary worth. Besides, it's technology is basic, and far better, more advanced systems of social networks can be created and undoubtedly will be.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:56 am |
  2. TS

    Facebook is for clowns. Useless soft.

    February 17, 2011 at 3:36 am |
  3. Jacob Ryckman

    Facebook has its place, TS. Its allowed me to stay in contact with friends who are on completely different continents now, and can actually be a useful tool for keeping track of events and such.
    Admittedly, I don't think it is worth quite the $50 billion its currently estimated at, but considering how many people use it and how much information is now transported through it... I'd say they aren't too far off. Personally I dislike the idea of Facebook going public.

    February 17, 2011 at 4:16 am |
  4. transcribe

    It's only a passing phase. Revolution can't be bad for business.

    February 17, 2011 at 4:18 am |
  5. Phil

    Facebook, here today .... what tomorrow?

    Yes it is something. Facebook's true challenge is also their greatest asset. Keeping their 500 Misslion Friends data secure and protecting it is what is necessary to ensure continued value. The second they "publicly" start selling and releasing it people will leave in droves. Even if their digital imprint is left. The smart ones out there (and I am not one of them) have not actually used their real info on facebook only an alias to which their friends can actually find them. If facebook continues to go international or goes public, the availability for Governments to identify and persecute their citizens becomes a greater risk. Facebook – Protect us from our own ignorance for we all have given up the freedom to privacy without knowing.

    February 17, 2011 at 5:08 am |
  6. GailWordUp

    Depends on your motives for using Facebook. Usually there can be good or bad in everything depending on how you perceive it. Though there are many who use it for narcissism, others to connect with family and friends, to expand there business awareness, promote new ideas and and and. To soon to tell it's total impact on the world so I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water.

    February 17, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  7. Jack Hide

    The article, or better the people, who think in this way, have clearly not understood what is actually best for their capitalistic view of things. In the long term freedom is always better than dictatorship, also for the despicable short-term money-shifters. Dictatorships waste money (military), have an inefficient leadership (ideology driven selection of managers), keep their population uneducated to better control them and make personal decisions who can enter the market (corruption). It is therefore actually the opposite of what is suggested in the article: companies should support any institutions which spread freedom and democracy. The short-term disruption of money-flow due to upheaval is insignificant compared to the "free" market afterwards. If Facebook actually did help significant in the recent revolutions has to be seen, but if so, you know where to put your money.

    February 17, 2011 at 7:26 am |
  8. Vijay Rao

    The post is handsomely written. I have bookmarked you for keeping abreast with your new posts.

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    February 17, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  9. Oresme

    It is not facebook that made the difference, it is the soaring food prices, the ones that should be thanked for this wave of revolutions are the Wall Street banksters. Business is bad for business !!!

    Of course Facebook helped and contributed but it iis hunger, starving kids that got the parents to go down in the streets and take the risk to be shot dead.

    Wall Street is a fraudulent activity since mid 2002, it's a big scam, a very few make tens of billions destroying the US economy and as such, Wall Street is USA number one security threat.

    Wall Street is a costly, incompetent and arrogant bureaucracy, it's sending the US down the drain just like the soviet bureaucraty sent USSR down the drain.... ask Poland and others what they think of Egypt !!

    February 17, 2011 at 7:57 am |
  10. Ahmed Ilyas

    I think improvements in web technologies has actually help the businesses, specially SME's and entrepreneurial ventures
    http://www.fattaurus.com

    February 17, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  11. Dr Chandrashekarankootysivananathankuttynathansamymotobaba

    agreed.

    February 17, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  12. Zee

    Revolution means freedom, and freedom is good for business. Otherwise we'd still be in Middle Ages. "I don’t think revolutions and business go hand in hand." is a terrible thing to say. Sounds like the motto of Saudi Royal family or Egyptian "government".

    February 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  13. Paddy Lawrence

    It's official. I am completely and utterly bored to the high teeth hearing about farcebook. It has become the most annoying "Bandwagon" for people to jump on and bleat about. The more people bleat, the more I despise their personal lack of free will and originality. I have reasonable but limited IT skills but you know what? If I was that keen to have access to software with Farcebooks (also limited) capability – I would create or commission it myself.

    The fact is there is so little of any real value or use that farcebook can do that a person can’t do by other means; email, phone, letter etc and don't blather on that people can see your range of dull as dishwater photos from another continent because you could print the damn things out and post them, or how about simply emailing them like normal people do?

    Also, the next time I'm having a conversation with a person and they suddenly cut me out to get to farcebook on their phones, I'm gonna go postal. I mean it. Fine, if you want to be some sort of sad loser who struggles to live life without a piece of software, go ahead. But woe betide anyone that shows me so little respect by delving into their sad world whilst supposedly giving me their attention. It's rude, immature and shows a real lack of social grace.

    And another thing, for those that just can't shut up about how popular Farcebook is and by extension, how popular they are as one of 500million users – I don't believe there are nearly that many. The biggest advocators or Farcebook simply refuse to stop prattling on about the "500million users". There aren't but SO WHAT even if there are?

    Losers all. 95+% of its users don't really need it anyway – they're just showing off. Farcebook is total bilge. Total. Utter. Complete. Absolute. Bilge.

    We've had MySpace and people wittered on about that and now it's nearly dead and buried. It won't be long before Farcebook is likewise cremated.

    To finish I should like to proffer my love, respect and brotherhood to the rest of the non-Farcebook using planet and in particular, any that feel as strongly as I do. Remember: 5,500million people DON'T use Farcebook. That’s 11/12ths of the globe.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  14. Hannah Louise

    Apparently, it's not the facebook revolution that started it all. The kind of revolution people are condemning is the tight grip of censorship which is enforced in their state. What's to overthrow anyway if the current regulations are humane and just. The social media does not necessarily overthrow the government but affects pockets of society including the major structures of economy, politics, education, etc...
    So, is the facebook revolution really bad for business?
    Remember that facebook is still business, whatever it does and maintains. Advertisers and marketers may not have a focused group to convince online however, the biggest advantage, I still believe, is that their products visibility. The more visible they appear on ads, people will surely be curious about it.
    Revolutions per se, are not bad for business, it just signifies that Tunisia and Egypt are evolving and ready to take up the challenge to democracy that hears people's voices and airs their needs without unjustified restrictions.

    February 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  15. Ramrod

    In 1956 we did not have facebook, we did not have email, we did not have fax machines. We still managed to start a revolution in Hungary. It is true, we were beaten, but it took 2000 Soviet tanks and half a Soviet army to do it.
    Fidel Castro did not have facebook, he did not have email, ha did not have fax machines, still he managed to oust the CIA installed corrupt Batista government. The imperialist Americans – mostly Republicans – are still punishing the Cuban people with an embargo because Castro did not ask for CIA permission to oust Batista. So much for spreading freedom.

    February 18, 2011 at 4:28 am |
  16. Lily Kadi

    Not only Arabic countires want to shut it also others who fear its power;too late it has already served its purpose!

    February 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  17. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    OK and thank you much.Greetings to the whole network.Cheers.
    Yours faithfully,
    Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    February 19, 2011 at 4:48 am |
  18. WES

    Facebook and its counterparts, as well as new communication hardware development, is ushering in a a democratic challenge to all who seek wealth and power. Collectivism in the hands of the very few, whether it be Communist or Capitalist always leads to the dictatorship of the few. The media is concentrating on the unbelievable atrocities of the most visible of dictators, and it should. However some dictators kill with the gun, others with their stranglehold on the collectivization of wealth. The government of the United States in cahoots with national and international corporations has insured the collectivization of wealth, and thus power, into the hands of the very few. Most American politicians are in an incestuous relationship with each other and their CorpRat handlers. DonkeyPhants, that is Republicans and Democrats, and now even the Tea Party, have the same goal-get as much cash as they can by lobbying self interest groups. CorpRats and DonkeyPhants lobby each other in the most incestuous and insidious way.
    Watch out Donkeyphants and Corprats as the Middle Class Social Media revolution is just beginning in the United States and it will, in fact, spell the end of wealth as the purchaser of power just as the first political revolution eliminated title as the purchaser of power. Democracy is nearly dead in the United States. Who will buy the next election. It won't be the Middle Class as they haven't got their ducks in a row--but they will--it's just a matter of time for the Middle Class to discover the power of democratizing social media. It's the last best hope for a free United States/

    February 25, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  19. kingsleymike

    well i think those that are complaining are those with skeleton in their cupboard

    March 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  20. NDUM

    that is kind of the wold of technology which m

    March 4, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  21. NDUM

    as well as new communication hardware development, is ushering in a a democratic challenge and openings to the world of technology so much that ease and facilitate alot beyound imagination becuz today world is that of technology. becuz yes of course Facebook helped and contributed but it iis hunger but also have had solutions on all..........

    March 4, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  22. Dr. S.P. Chowdhury

    What is happening now in the World, it needs to build up World opinion and common understanding as any repercussion in any corner of world impacts the whole world due to Information Revolution that achieved through FB – a really good social network – shaping the world as a Global Village and making it as the reality.

    March 5, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  23. Kelvin Miracle Ndoma

    Face book to me is another emergency means of communication. Here in Jos, Plateau State. Nigeria. We students of the university of Jos use it to communicate to each other and pass information about what parts of town in crisis and when it's safe to go out or not. Alot have been saved through such information.

    March 6, 2011 at 4:37 am |
  24. oiza kaik

    Well it depends on your purpose. facebook has helped me keep intouch with my loved ones. if facebook is revolutionising revolts and unseating despotic leaders,then why not?

    March 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  25. o o o

    It is sad that people are so bad informed.

    It is not Mark Zuckerberg's idea or 'dream' that became true nore was it his prediction. He only stated it.
    Mark did not initialize Facebook. Although he did a great job for it, that is true.

    And for the events: they where foreseen and the credit goes only and totally to the people involved on the ground.

    March 17, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  26. Erik Wassenich

    Facebook gets too much credit. So much exaggeration by the West! How many people, percentage-wise, in North Africa own computers with internet connections and facebook? The Arabs simply are tired of their tyrants who have been in power longer than facebook and the other social networks have been around. The Arabs have their own internal communications. Facebook played a very small part.

    March 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  27. baby masr

    As an Egyptian who fought in Tahrir sq I am disgusted with all this Facebook Talk.

    400 Egyptians died and a hundred died in one day when mubaraks thugs attacked us in tahrir on feb 2nd. That was an epic night where we fought back and repelled thousands of armed thugs. We did it with stones we broke off from the street.

    Yet All i hea about is camels, facebook and smart phones.. this is complete corporate whitewashing. Do you honestly thing revolutions are won online?

    Facebook's biggest contribution to this revolution was when it went down. People couldn't sit around and waste time commenting so they hit the street and the revolution was on. If anything facebook keeps people from mobilizing. It is a waste of time and I canceled my account.

    Weal Ghonim, a internet addict who posted from Dubai to the fb Egypt main page made his biggest contribution to the revolution when he got arrested on Egyptian soil while trying to hail a cab. He only knows the net so he gave it credit and the media jumped all over it. the only ones who benefited are fb shareholders and Goldman Sachs.

    March 26, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  28. Marry Shobasky

    I don't think that facebook revolution is bad for business . For more information in regarding of using facebook for business, you can browse here http://facebusinessworld.com/.

    October 14, 2011 at 9:25 am |
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