In short answer to the question in the title, no. Facebook and Google became Internet giants for much more varied reasons — and, in the process, put themselves in each other’s crosshairs.
Here’s an insane stat, though: Google and Facebook, together, account for over 80 percent of social log-ins. A social log-in, or social sign-in, is basically signing up for a website/service with your Google or Facebook account, as opposed to filling out some name/address/phone/e-mail capture form. In fact, when asked why they used social sign-in instead of regular sign-in, most people said it was because they didn’t like forms:
No. 2 on that list is “didn’t want to remember another password,” which social sign-in obviously also helps with. In the same Quartz article linked above, you’ll see a stat whereby 60 percent of people dump out of online purchases because they were presented, at some point in the process, with a sign-in form.
(Stop and think about this for a second: almost the entire Internet economy is based on landing pages and e-mail capture, to some extent — lead generation — and yet, everyone hates doing that. Bad money chasing good.)
Obviously privacy and security are major issues in the modern age. I personally think people inflate this a bit too much — Google’s business model is based, in part, on knowing things about you so that it can put the right ads in front of you — but I still understand the concerns, of course. 46 percent of people in the same survey as above thought that social sign-in would lead the companies to “sell their data.” 41 percent thought they’d “post on their Wall without permission.” No one completely understands what people are doing with their data — heck, no one really understands data at all, if we’re being honest — but they’re a little scared.
Even though they’re scared of what might happen, though, they use it because they don’t want to fill out a form or remember another password.
Think about this, even at a slightly deeper and more convoluted level: the word “formulaic” has a bad connotation, right? If you tell someone that their work is “formulaic,” that’s basically taking a giant dump on them, no? The first four letters? F-O-R-M.
People always give these speeches at conventions about how the real “four-letter F-word” to avoid is fear. I agree with that. You can’t live in fear.
But maybe the real four-letter F-word that’s shaping business is form. Because if you have it, people will run from it — and right into the hands of Google and Facebook, apparently.
Online then, even, the rich get richer.