The idea that coercion and respect are antithetical is key here. Setting aside for the moment any discussion of infringement, the similarity of Facebook’s new features to Chat Center makes for an easy comparison — and an easy choice. As a business owner which is better? A completely open chat that allows universal participation and access? Or one that coerces users into a closed ecosystem, and in particular one that forces them to digitally disrobe first because once inside they will be tracked and scanned and analyzed with more resolution than a modern CAT scan?
Keith says this is about respect and it is. Respect for your brand, as he points out, but ultimately because that respect reflects the respect — or not in Facebook’s case — extended to users of the service.
Facebook’s chat doesn’t cheapen your brand because of the architecture or the relationship with Facebook, but rather because it disrespects the users of the service. They don’t see it as Facebook coercing them so much as you and your business coercing them through your selection of Facebook’s chat as your provider.
We’ve had privacy-invading, data-sucking silos since the beginning largely because we built the Internet when only large corporations could afford processing power, bandwidth and storage. We all now carry the equivalent of an 80’s mainframe in our pocket. There is very little value provided to us in exchange for our data that we could not generate on our own devices under our own control. No vendor should feel entitled to the intimate details of our lives just because we use their device or service.
It’s time we were treated with respect by our providers. And, if we are smart, it’s time we demanded that respect of our providers as a competitive differentiator. To paraphrase Keith, what self-respecting user would want otherwise?