Random Chapters From Facebook

Facebook LogoI’ve been thinking plenty about Facebook recently – random thoughts, mostly.  Perhaps this stems from the IPO fiasco — the fizzling stock price, and accusations of shenanigans by lead underwriter Morgan Stanley – that has kept the company in the news day after day.

Random Thought #1: Amid so much IPO media buzz, there was a subtle sign that maybe – just maybe – analysts and investors are getting a little smarter, and more scrutinizing.

A day or two before the IPO launched, I saw several news stories openly questioning how Facebook could generate revenue, and shareholder value, long-term.  (These came just after GM announced it would no longer advertise on the site.)

I am not a keen follower of IPOs, but this struck me as encouraging.   In the 1990’s, most of us didn’t ask these sorts of questions about Enron, or mortgage-backed securities, or faddish internet startups whose value propositions we couldn’t quite put our fingers on.  Such analysis would not have appeared in mainstream media, either.  If a company with a charismatic 25-year-old CEO had a foosball table in its lunchroom and let employees bring their dogs to work… we all wanted a piece of it.

I once heard a banking executive speak about the heat his firm took for not engaging with Enron.  He had been mocked for his conservative stance at the time, but explained that since no one could show him how Enron made money, he felt it was just too risky.  And of course, he was absolutely correct.  Maybe that type of thinking is finally catching on.

Brian BanksRandom Thought #2: Have you heard about Brian Banks?  As a 16-year-old high school football standout with hopes of attending USC, he was falsely accused of kidnapping and raping a classmate.  On the advice of his attorney, he pleaded no contest, and served five years in prison followed by five years on parole as a registered sex offender.  His dream of playing in the NFL was, seemingly, over.

Here’s the part that, surprisingly, hasn’t received much media coverage: Enter Facebook.  One day, out of the blue, his accuser sent him a Facebook friend request.  It essentially suggested that they let bygones be bygones. Are you freaking kidding me?  Banks couldn’t believe it.  He suggested a meeting with the woman, and invited a private investigator to tag along and secretly record the conversation.  His accuser readily admitted that she’d made up the entire rape story, for reasons that remain unclear.  The videotape of the meeting was presented in court, and Banks was completely exonerated.

Someone who falsely accuses another human being – especially a friend they have known all their lives – of a heinous crime, and watches that friend’s hopes and dreams fall to pieces, is obviously a very troubled soul.  Perhaps she suffers from mental illness.   Regardless, she is very dumb.

We’ve all received an unfortunate Facebook friend request or two, and wondered “Why on earth would this person think I want to reconnect with them, given our history?”  They all pale in comparison to this.

More good news: Brian Banks has been invited to work out with several NFL teams, including the Seattle Seahawks and the San Diego Chargers.  I suspect social media may have played a part here, too.  Banks’ story spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter.

This is probably the most egregious misuse of Facebook I have ever encountered.  I’m still scratching my head about it.  If you have an eye-roll-worthy Facebook story, let’s hear it!

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