Five years on, what's Facebook's future?

One of the issues that Facebook has continually battled is privacy. "The evolution of privacy issues and understanding of those issues will make people much more careful about sharing their lives online," thinks Tarnowski. Mickael Remond, of IM company ProcessOne, agrees:

"Users give away information that can be exploited against the individual or their organisation. In the future, criminals are likely to come up with even more creative ways of using the information people thoughtlessly give out on sites such as Facebook."

Facebook fraud

In August 2007, Sophos set up a profile for 'Freddi Staur' (an anagram of 'ID Fraudster'), a small green plastic frog who divulged minimal personal information about himself.

"By sending 200 friend requests to strangers - it became clear just how many people are happy to display personal information to potential criminals," says Sophos' Graham Cluley.

"Alarmingly, 41 per cent of those approached befriended Freddi, granting access to the kind of information that can be used for ID fraud."

Recently security firm Cloudmark warned that up to 40 per cent of user profiles could be fictitious.

Privacy was, and remains, an issue at the heart of Facebook's userbase. "There was a petition on Facebook in 2007 to stop 'invading my privacy'," explains Ang, "as it was pointed out that 'Matt in New York already knows what his girlfriend got him for Christmas...' Facebook has responded to this and rectified the problem, but more issues are likely to occur in the future."

Whose data?

Facebook will face the continued challenge of how it should use this information. This week The Guardian reported that Facebook intends to offer user information to businesses as a market research tool.

The company has denounced the claims, but it certainly brings a new privacy debate into view.

Pontus Kristiansson of Avail Intelligence, believes we shouldn't see this as negative. "Although the emergence of polling ads on social networking sites is bound to re-ignite concerns about monitoring consumer behaviour for targeted marketing, is it not the case that tailored information is always more relevant and actually less intrusive than an impersonal approach? Targeting marketing in this way will contribute to the internet-age trend of the consumer being in control."

"Conversational marketing will be a real battle ground in the next couple of years," adds BrandoSocial's David Cushman. "Facebook's trump card is that its very large number of easily targeted conversations are behind closed walls - where Google can't find them."


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.