Why Facebook movies isn't a threat to anyone

Facebook dove into the movie streaming arena with The Dark Knight yesterday and people flipped out: Netflix's stock, in particular, took a significant dive. But what evidence do we have that this will actually work on a large scale?

Facebook is obviously a powerful force on the internet, and it may even be true that the site holds the largest single audience online. But, in the panic to some sort of world order that makes sense in the 2.0 paradigm, Facebook is being given way too much credit.

The only example of people willing to use Facebook's credit system (which is how it looks like the movie streaming will work) is in online games like FarmVille. The credits are a weird and condescending way to handle online payments. They may make sense for getting middle schoolers to spend their allowance, but it seems unlikely that the general population will start treating media consumption like some kind of arcade.

The other, probably bigger, problem is that what Facebook does well is connecting people to other people or even connecting them to other business or entities. What it doesn't do well is connecting people to a central location (a movie landing page, say). Facebook depends on users creating a presence to connect to other users.

If the counter-argument is that movie watching on the site will allow for an unprecedented amount of peer recommendation and interaction to bolster the movies, it's a thin one -- people don't exactly struggle to communicate about media as it is, on Facebook or anywhere else. It's really very easy to get from one place to another online.

So go buy some Netflix stock today, while it's being driven down by an oversimplification. Facebook is not the future -- it is one part of the future, maybe, but it is not the sole window through which people live their online lives, now or at any point down the road.

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