Jason Calacanis fires at Facebook, should we follow him?

Jason Calacanis has a reputation of a loudmouth. That reputation makes that many people either hate him or love him. But it does make that he gets attention at those moments he wants the attention. And Calacanis has done it again, this time by pointing his guns at Facebook. As always he doesn’t hold back, but we also have to wait and see if anything will actually come from it.

So what is going on? In his newsletter, which he started when he decided to stop blogging (which in fact he didn’t, his e-mails go straight to his blog), he makes the analogy between a poker game and what Facebook is doing. Calacanis claims Facebook is overplaying their hand.

Calacanis states:

“Over the past month, Mark Zuckerberg, the hottest new card player in town, has overplayed his hand. Facebook is officially “out,” as in uncool, amongst partners, parents and pundits all coming to the realization that Zuckerberg and his company are–simply put–not trustworthy.”

He focusses on the dispute Facebook has with games developer Zynga. Facebook is trying to get more money out of the successful gaming community on its platforms and now wants to force developers to use their virtual
currency–for a 30% cut. Calcanis (rightfully) opposes to that.


Calacanis introduces the term “Zucked”: “the new catch phrase for when someone either steals your business idea or screws you as a business partner.”

He gives examples of companies who got “Zucked” in the last years:

1. FourSquare was Zucked when Facebook stole their check-in feature.
2. Twitter was Zucked when Facebook stole their public facing profiles.
3. Facebook users got Zucked when the site flipped their privacy setting–three different times!
4. The co-founder of Facebook was allegedly Zucked when he was kicked out of the company he helped found.
5. The founders of ConnectU got Zucked when he allegedly screwed them over by not delivering their social network and then launching Facebook at the same time–and joked about it!
6. Harvard reporters reportedly got Zucked when Mark hacked their accounts to try and stop a negative story/investigation about him.

Calacanis goes on for a while (read the entire piece here by the way) calling Zuckerberg all sorts of things like “hopelessly misguided”, “backstabbing, stealing and cheating” and much more.

He did it before

As said, its not the first time Calacanis takes on the ‘big players’ in the industry. Last year he aimed his arrows at Apple after Apple had banned Google Voice from the iPhone. The closed environment Apple is running got him annoyed:

To be honest, I am not sure if he kept his word there, as far as I can tell he is still using the mac-products but I’m not sure about that.

Is Calacanis right on this Facebook rant?

In many ways he is yes. Calacanis makes a couple of very good points. Just think about this one for a minute:

“People are creating fan pages on Facebook and then paying Facebook to send them traffic. Let me explain this one more time: You’re PAYING Mark Zuckerberg money to send traffic to HIS SITE.”

And don’t forget the privacy-issues. Calacanis points out that “if you’re stupid enough to give up your customer database to Facebook, he will pay you back by screwing over your user’s privacy!”

The privacy part to be honest is the one thing which ‘scares’ me the most. All the data Facebook is gathering, all the things they can do with it and the fact that their main drive is not the people but the money makes that the data is in dangerous hands.

So what does he want?

Calacanis claims the best option is a Facebook boycott. Something for example some Googlers have already done. “Stop Facebook, Save the World!” Calacanis said.

However, like in the Apple case, we have to wait and see how this develops. Calacanis himself hasn’t taken any action so it seems, his page http://www.facebook.com/jasoncalacanis is still there.

Should we follow?

Well, I won’t suggest you follow Calacanis’ steps. He’s a very smart guy and he knows his stuff, but he also does things just to get the attention. But what I do suggest is to really think over what you want or don’t want to be showing on Facebook, after all, you don’t know where it will end up…

Bas van den Beld

About Bas van den Beld

Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.

8 thoughts on “Jason Calacanis fires at Facebook, should we follow him?

  1. I’m not sure whether to love or hate Calacanis. He’s a hypocrite and uses black-hat and grey-hat SEO tactics on Mahalo, but at the same time he fires sharp rants at those who deserve it, and I can’t find myself disagreeing with him much.

  2. Actually I really can’t stand Calacanis and when he complains about people who “steal” things it’s kinda funny…But obviously he is right on a few things and it’s not a bad thing that someone who reaches a large audience tells people to act and think. On the other hand I bet that we don’t have to wait to long until Aaron will fire at Jason by pointing out how crappy mahalo is… 😉

    So let’s wait and see. Maybe some other “web celebrities” jump on board too and will raise more attention on this topic. Wouldn’t be a bad thing and more effective than politicians who usually complain all the time.

  3. Does anyone outside of our introspective world know who Jason Calcanis is? I doubt it. However pretty much any Facebook user; (if not a player – of which there are 70 million A DAY) is fully aware of Farmville, Mafia Wars, Petville, Fishville etc. If reports are true that Zynga is migrating its games off- platform, to their own network, that could be the single biggest blow to FB active user stats.

    What is important to mention is that Zynga is rumoured to be the single biggest advertiser on facebook, therefore one of those people Calcanis calls out for paying Zuckerberg to send traffic to his own site. Moving off FB could be a double win for Zynga and a double blow for facebook.

    Regardless of motive, I’d say this was the right train for Calcanis to jump on right now.

  4. Who the fuck is Jason Calacanis?

    More to the point, he may be right… But…

    Facebook are just doing what everyone other successful (…) company in the try to do, make money. They know gaming is the main reason people are ‘active’ on the site, and they need a way to turn that time into cold hard cash.

    People aren’t paying facebook to drive traffic to facebook. The users are already on facebook anyway, you are paying for brand awareness, and assuming your fan / business landing page is any good, then turning those readers into regular users / customers is what you are paying for.

    Facebooks growth has been phenomenal, and like every big organisation it will also be scrutinised more on it’s mistakes than it’s success’.

    I am surprised he didn’t mention divorce or some other shit.

  5. I agree with you Nichola. Games like FarmVille and MafiaWars make the regular John Does return to FB to play the game. For most of the people I know, thats the ONLY reason they visit FB that much. So I believe that Zynga truly has the best cards in their hands.

    And personally i kinda hope that Zuckerberg falls of his precious homemade throne.

  6. The more I read about the facebook debate, the closer I get to deleting my profile. If people like Calacanis and Lisa Barone are right, then we’re best off out. And soon.

  7. If they already aren’t trying to, now is the time for Google to steal Zynga and move all 50 kajillion Farmville users over to their horribly named Google+ product. If they could pull that off, I give it 12-18 months before FB = the new Myspace.

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