Mark Zuckerberg likes to repeat himself.
At Facebook’s f8 developers conference in San Francisco yesterday, Zuckerberg hammered the audience of app makers from around the world with a handful of keywords. Besides the obvious ones that kept showing up on PowerPoint slides behind him, like “build, grow and monetize,” there were a few messages that listeners may not have picked up on. Each of these words — heard over and over again during the CEO’s 18 minutes or so on stage — speak volumes about Facebook’s business.
For those attending next year’s conference, there is probably a pretty good drinking game in here somewhere.
Trust: Zuckerberg used this word five times over the course of five minutes. “Trust” was mainly used in the context of some new tools that allow app users to share less personal information with developers when connecting their accounts to Facebook.
“The new login and anonymous login are examples of putting people first in the way that we design this platform,” he said. "By giving people more power and control, they’re going to trust all the apps that we build more, and over time, use them all more.”
There may be other things at the heart of Facebook’s trust issues. In a survey on European attitudes toward privacy commissioned by the telco Orange, just 20 percent of respondents said they trust social networks to safeguard their personal data.
The concept of trust has come up several times during the ongoing U.S. spying scandal. Zuckerberg addressed the National Security Agency incident at a conference in Washington hosted by the Atlantic last year, saying “trust metrics” for all big Internet companies “went down with Prism.” In a Facebook post in March, Zuckerberg began by writing, "As the world becomes more complex and governments everywhere struggle, trust in the Internet is more important today than ever."
Stable: This word came out of Zuckerberg’s mouth 15 times in his relatively brief appearance on stage. (Three of those were “stability.”) App developers frequently grumble about the reliability of the tools Facebook provides them for connecting to the social network. A survey of developers in 2011 found that Facebook’s system was the source of the most headaches, nearly double that of Google.
So Facebook said yesterday that the main tools provided to developers for hooking into the network will be supported for at least two years. It said server downtime had been reduced by more than 70 percent over the past few years. Zuckerberg even went so far as to change the company’s mantra from “move fast and break things” to “move fast with stable infra” (short for “infrastructure”). That should enable developers to devote their time to other things besides chasing changes to Facebook’s programming that break existing functions.
Mobile: This was the winner of the day. Zuckerberg said it 18 times. Practically every new product announced yesterday was geared toward smartphones: a Like button for apps, a mobile ad network, usage-tracking software, the login features. Zuckerberg also made the point that Facebook has conquered the challenge of monetizing mobile usage. Shareholders really like that.
Bonus Round: I lost count of the number of times Zuckerberg said “platform.” It’s a logical buzzword to use at an event geared toward programmers, who routinely use it to describe everything from phone operating systems and apps to websites used for sharing pictures of babies staging faux conference calls. (You haven’t heard of the Business Baby meme?)
“Our goal with Facebook is to build the cross-platform platform,” Zuckerberg said on stage yesterday. “We all want identity across platforms and sharing across platforms and push notifications across platforms and app installs and even monetization, and this is what Facebook Platform is all about: Building the cross-platform tools that you need.”
Do yourself a favor, and leave this one out of the drinking game.