Opinion

Would the world end if Facebook shut down on 15 March?

More than a million Facebook users appear to have been taken in by a story that appeared in Weekly World News claiming the social networking site was shutting down on 15 March. The venerable news organ, well known for breaking such scoops as "Aliens attack Skype" and "Megan Fox is a man", claimed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had said that "managing [Facebook] has ruined my life. I need to put an end to all the madness".

The date for the closure, 15 March, is pretty cute given that it just happens to be the Ides of March (when Caesar was assassinated).

Obviously, there are a lot of Facebook users terrified at the prospect of the site closing down and losing any photos or videos that they might have uploaded but for my part I can't help wondering whether things would really be that much different. 

For instance, I've noticed most of us start our Facebook existence with great enthusiasm, posting status updates, pictures, links and adding friends. But a lot of us reach a point of "Facebook fatigue" after a while, our updates become more sporadic and the intervals between our visits to the site grow longer.

I guess what I'm saying is that if the Weekly World News story turned out to be true, would it really matter all that much if we were suddenly pitched back into a pre-Facebook universe on 16 March? And if it didn't, what does that say about Goldman's recent investment of $500m in Facebook and the incredible valuation of $50bn being attached to the site?

Nevertheless, with $50bn at stake, the chances of Zuckerberg closing Facebook in March are less likely than the other big story in Weekly World News that alien spaceships from the planet Zeeba will attack the earth in the same month.

This was first published in January 2011

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