… please turn out the lights …

That’s it, the event we (well, a small percentage of “we”) have feared has come to pass and it is time to see if we (the aforesaid small percentage of “we”) have the brass ones to leave Facebook. Microsoft has bought 1.6% of Facebook for $240 million which makes Microsoft a part owner of one of the most popular social networks today and that price values Facebook at $15 billion. That figure will seem pretty darn silly when everyone leaves Facebook for less Microsoft tainted waters!

Ivo Vegter, founder of the Facebook group “If Facebook sells to Microsoft, we’re leaving” (ok, small challenge here, if you visit the group you are doing the opposite of what “we” said we would do … but then you wouldn’t know what it is all about … unless you visit Ivo’s blog, of course, so do that) has declared that he is leaving Facebook:

Microsoft is buying a teensy sliver of Facebook for a whole lotta dough, with the intention of advertising at me. Personally. It thinks it paid $300 for that right, but I’m not up for that. The deal is all over the news, and as usual, The Register has by far the best headline and funniest take on it.Shortly after I blogged about the impending deal, in which I explained my deep misgivings about the prospect of doing business with a company whose products, privacy policies and security record I don’t particularly like, and whose online services I’ve long vowed never to use again, I made a public promise. If Microsoft buys a stake in Facebook, I’m leaving.

I’m not saying that Google is any less of a privacy risk, but I sold my soul to them a long time ago, and to date, it hasn’t burnt me. There’s no turning back now, and I have no spare soul to sell to Microsoft. Call it a risk exposure minimisation strategy. Orkut was all the rage in 2004, when I last tried it, but it was a dog. It’s been groomed a little since, had its nails clipped and stuff, but still seems to enjoy some canine capriciousness. I’ll get used to it. Someone, somewhere in the Googleplex, must be paying just a little attention to Orkut, surely?

I’d better get used to it. Because in a few days, soon as I’ve informed everyone, handed over the groups I manage, and backed up whatever data I have on there, I’ll never point my browser at facebook.com again. Maybe eating the cookie will make me feel better.

The question now is whether the rest of the “we” (myself included) who signed up to the group are going to close our accounts and migrate to Orkut? Hmm … I feel a bit like an addict, not so much because I use Facebook all day, every day (I have a day job that pays bills and the more I work, the more I earn) but because the social network I am a part of has a huge footprint there so leaving Facebook is leaving that part of my social network. Not so easy when you think about it. On the other hand I am not a fan of Microsoft and the way Microsoft handles whatever it touches. When I set up my lovely MacBook I took the opportunity not to load Microsoft products onto its young hard drive and I am doing just fine without them.

Looking at the next step, there is Google’s Orkut (here is my profile so sign up and connect to me) and Plaxo Pulse (I think this is my profile, otherwise sign up for Plaxo and add me to your address book to automatically connect to me and get the rest of my public contact details – yup, it is pretty cool). Orkut is a social network which is similar, in a way, to Facebook in that it is an ecosystem of its own. Plaxo Pulse, on the other hand, is a life stream/social stream meta network and aggregates your feeds from a variety of services into a stream of content. Pulse is almost the antithesis of Facebook because it doesn’t attempt to lock you in and lets you add and remove your content. Orkut has an interesting future ahead of it because Google is due to announce its next big move into the social networking space in about a week and a half and the consensus is that Orkut will see some changes being made to it to help facilitate this. Add recent acquisitions like Jaiku to the mix and we could soon see a pretty compelling Google offering on the cards next month.

All this stuff aside, what now? Are we moving, or what? Is there value in maintaining a Facebook presence (you know, to spy from the inside!) or are we bugging out?

Oh, Ivo, you may want to edit the “share this” links on your blog. There is a link to share on Facebook and that just wouldn’t be cricket.

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