Social Media Points of Failure

Facebook has just added a lot of new features to its offering, buttons and graphs and likes and widgets galore.  Of course among the various discussions about Facebook, one issue keeps  coming up is that Facebook, as it gets bigger, is a single point of failure in people's online lives and identities.

If you think back, there have been a lot of "single points of failure" in peoples online lives.  I remember when ICQ was the big chat program, when LinkedIn had no competitors, when everyone worried about Twitter owning people's lives (remember that?).  There's always a worry that some provider or web service will dominate everything – and then bad things will happen with hackers, TOS changes, etc.

So we've had a lot of worry about points of failure in our internet lives.  Though I have yet to see a Great Online Life Destruction Debacle, it is a possibility of course.  However,  I've watched many a gloom and doom story about the internet and have yet to see Netageddon happen.

On the other hand, even though Facebook, LinkedIn, what have you may not create a social media apocalypse with a sale, a TOS change, or a hack, that doesn't mean it can't happen on a smaller scale.  One major social media company can have problems that cause widespread havoc, or your own account may be hacked, or a message board you've dependent on shuts down.  Just because the idea of the Giant Internet Social Media Failure may not come to happen doesn't mean you can't be inconvenienced by a smaller Netageddon.

This is important for your life – and of course, for our careers.

You need to make sure you don't have a single point of failure in your online life.  For just some examples, do you:

  1. Depend only on one given social media application to connect to people?
  2. Have only one email address?
  3. Rely on one given technology to communicate with an important group – such as a message board?
  4. Communicate with people largely through one medium – email, text messaging, etc.? If you lost someone's email address or they deleted their Facebook account, can you get in touch with them other ways?

It's important to make sure that your life and career social media strategy includes ways to work around failures, such as:

  1. Having backup email accounts.  You can always use redirects to consolidate them.
  2. Backing up important contact lists.
  3. Consider separate applications to track and monitor some of your interactions – such as a good CRM.
  4. Keep up on what's going on with the social media you use – as we've seen before, a few bad decisions can cause large exoduses, scandals, and more.
  5. Monitor sites you run regularly for hacks, etc. and update them regularly with the latest appropriate technology.

Look for the points of failure – and work around them.  Netageddon may not happen, but if it does, you can avoid it or minimize it's effects – and if there are smaller-scale disasters, you're ready for them.

– Steven Savage