You might have thought that the editor of a magazine called the Idler would find the social networking website Facebook a wonderful addition to his time-sink toolbox. Yet writing in the Guardian the other day, Tom Hodgkinson sought to paint Facebook as nothing less than a vast neocon conspiracy, with its board harbouring mysterious, sinister venture capitalists pursuing nefarious libertarian agendas. The piece is well worth reading, if only for delicious morsels like “Facebook pretends to be about freedom, but isn’t it really more like an ideologically motivated virtual totalitarian regime…?”
Happily, Facebook seems to have emerged from the Hodgkinson attack unbowed. Yet a far bigger blow to the site comes in the form of news that it has been asked to remove its popular application Scrabulous, which allows users to, er, idle away their time by playing Scrabble against each other. The Scrabulous application—created not by Facebook but by a pair of Indian software developers—has been a huge success, outstripping other popular applications like Pirates vs Ninjas and Which Swear Word Are You?. Yet Hasbro and Mattel, joint owners of the Scrabble trademark, claim that the app infringes their copyright, and want the 594,924 Facebook users who play to find another way to ease the drudgery of their daily existence.
Facebook has not yet made any comment, although a group has naturally sprung up on the site in defence of Scrabulous. But with the intellectual property bully-boys of big business now engaged in open warfare with the virtual republic ideologues of Facebook, how on earth is Hodgkinson going to decide who to hate?