WITH FACEBOOK CONSIDERING establishing an operation in Ireland, award-winning journalist, iPhone fanatic (not iPhone fanboy) and editor Adrian Weckler can now start throttling back his Facebook updates in the Sunday Business Post. Some may credit Weckler with turning attention from Facebook Inc towards the prolific Irish as a place to locate part of its operations. Others might say it was the IDA or even a Paddys Valley delegation that put the spotlight on Ireland for the initiative. Either way, one of the most-noticed social networking gabfests of 2007 may set up shop on the Emerald Isle. In HomeNews today, John Collins says, "Facebook, the rapidly growing social networking website, is considering Ireland as the location for its European hub. Executives from the company have met providers of business and technology services in Ireland in recent weeks. It is still not clear whether Facebook will simply locate computer infrastructure here or establish a European headquarters in the Republic that would involve significantly more employment." The Facebook executives would find a warm welcome from several outspoken Irish advocates of its online "community" since Facebook has proven to be as effective as warm meat for maggots who aspire to collect piles of friends on the back of feverish jostling to set up groups that promote their own proficiencies as well as advance brand awareness of campaigns, companies, or events. This online crowd sourcing is as reality-distorting as the late night twentysomething party scene throughout Ireland.
Collins spent some time researching his Irish Times article, revealing that "executives from the company, which was the internet phenomenon of 2007, have indicated that Ireland is one of two locations it is considering in Europe." Facebook would have no trouble finding Facebook fanboys among the Irish digirati, although in some third level corners of Ireland, Facebook has definitely come off the boil and is already headed into the same harbour that shelters Geocities, Bebo, and LiveJournal.
Nonetheless, Facebook is well-funded with a definite layer of stickiness that has led some organisations to block its access during the work day. Collins explains, "If Facebook proceeds with the investment, it will be a major feather in the cap for the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) Ireland. With electronics manufacturing moving to low-cost locations, the IDA has courted the new wave of internet companies to establish bases here. The State Development agency's most high-profile successes include Google (which now employs about 1,500 in Dublin), online auction site ebay (which has 1,200 staff in Blanchardstown), and electronic retailer Amazon (which last year established a support operation in Cork which will ultimately employ 450 staff)."
Collins, who visited Facebook last month, points out that "Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheal Martin is believed to have met Facebook executives when he visited California last October on an IDA trip." The Paddy Valley delegation also stopped into the Facebook offices during their whirlwind tour of the Silicon Valley in December.
Collins explains "the social networking site, which allows members to track their friends' activities and keep in touch, has made no secret of its plans to expand internationally. The company has said it will launch versions of the site in languages other than English in the next three months." I have often imagine the elegance of Facebook in Irish, complete with advertisements for Aran jumpers, Westlife albums, and fresh soda bread guaranteed fresh on delivery.
Facebook could do well in locating among some of its most enthusiastic users. "The track record of the Republic as a centre for localisation--the translation of software for the language and cultural norms of different markets--may enhance Ireland's attractiveness as a base." The thing is, I haven't found a special interest group for software localisers among Facebook's millions of accounts. That said, I haven't been hanging around in Facebook much this year, ever since being poked and bitten during a food fight while online among my crowd of Facebook friends.
There are some things about Facebook that some of my friends did not know.
Privacy Loose on Setup. When you open a Facebook account, your privacy settings are set to facilitate connections, and if you don't want your boss to see your stuff, you need to tighten them up.
Social Worms. When you add an application, you give the application's creator access to all your information. And some applications can contain viruses (sometimes called social worms).
Eyes on your stuff. Expect some people (i.e., police with valid requests or your employer with IP details) to be given access to your profile.
Facebook has an online network for Ireland. You can join for free, meet friends, and influence people. Or keep your powder dry and attend a few interesting debates about Facebook.
John Collins -- "Facebook considering adding Ireland as a friend" in The Irish Times, 17 January 2008.
Damien Mulley -- "Facebook stats for Ireland"
Paul Browne -- "LinkedIn vs Facebook for Business Networking in Ireland"
Niall Larkin -- "Can the last person leaving Facebook turn out the lights?"
Photo above of Paul Walsh, Twitter's Secretary of State.