I wish Robert Scoble, the intermittent blogger, would take a break from making videos, too. In response to criticism of his incoherent videos about would-be Google killers, he's created a fresh set of incoherent videos explaining what friends are and how Facebook understands the meaning of your personal relationships. Again, he pulls out the whiteboard and marker — green this time — to "illustrate" his so-called point, a point that could be better made in a brief blog post. I've watched the painful videos so that you don't have to. But this time, there's some welcome good news.
Robert Scoble is approaching the hardcoded limit of 5,000 friends imposed by Facebook. Soon, Scoble will no longer be able to add new friends! Hooray! And it gets better: Scoble says once he hits the limit, "After that... There'll be another Scoble." Huzzah, huzzah! Facebook expressly forbids a single individual from maintaining two profiles:
... you agree not to use the Service or the Site to ... register for more than one User account, register for a User account on behalf of an individual other than yourself, or register for a User account on behalf of any group or entity.
Robert Scoble may soon be banned from Facebook entirely! Hooray!
So what was Scoble trying to say anyways in these more than 20 minutes of video, besides outing himself as a Facebook scofflaw? In four sentences: Relationships exist on a spectrum of closeness. Each relationship has things in common (participation, common interests and activities, friends, locations, messages, applications, events, and work — Scoble's categories, not mine). The closer a person and the more commonalities he has, the more information appears in Facebook's feed. Thus, Facebook does know true friends who are close from "fake" friends, enemies, or just people you want to spam with your blog entries.
And in classic Scoble fashion, he concludes by tearing his argument down. He explains how a "fake" friend can emulate your participations, common interests and activities, friends, locations, messages, applications, events, work, etc. and elevate themselves to "real" friend without Facebook knowing that you are not. Brilliant. If only being self-contradictory were against Facebook's terms of service, too.