Thursday, 29 April 2010

Accountancy students might prefer Facebook

Apparently the verb to 'google' was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006. The dictionary isn't the fastest off the mark to recognise new social phenomena and, as yet, there is no equivalent verb 'to facebook'.

A long time ago the biggest name in computing was IBM and 'nobody ever got fired for buying IBM'. More recently office applications like WordPerfect and Lotus 123 (accountants were especially keen on Lotus) were kings of the heap until along came Microsoft Office. Now there is the possibility that mighty Google is losing ground. The challenger is Facebook.

Facebook is not only rapidly becoming the most popular website in the world but it also has a crucial advantage over Google because its users have to login. This means that, in theory at any rate, Facebook could collect information about the web resources that its members like and make connections between that data and the equivalent data for each Facebook user in that person's, usually very extensive, social network. So, for instance, if a Facebook user makes it clear that they like a website promoting, say, a certain fashionable clothing brand then Facebook could target advertising for that brand to all that user's Facebook friends. Google has made a fortune in targeted advertising but Facebook might be about to take it to a new level.

If data protection rules and privacy concerns do not prevent Facebook from achieving this goal it should be good news for online service providers, especially those that already make connections between their customers. Elearning students with the Accounting and Bookkeeping College, for instance, already benefit from the online forums that are part of each course and allow them to discuss accountancy matters with each other as well as with their tutor. Accountancy is not always regarded as the most sociable career but social networking might have a lot to offer the accountant in training.

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