shutterstock_99397655Fill in the blank: The purpose of Facebook is __________.

Ten years ago, completing that sentence was much easier. Facebook was a digital destination – arguably the destination – for all social activity. Today? Even a New York Times technology reporter has trouble formulating an answer.

“The service has introduced and eliminated different designs and focal points of activity so many times over the years that, to me, it is no longer clear what the main site should be used for,” Jenna Wortham wrote in this blog post.

Headline-making purchases of WhatsApp ($19 billion) and Instagram ($1 billion) suggest Facebook recognizes its services alone can no longer meet all social needs. Wortham’s colleague, Farhad Manjoo, wrote in this story:

“Now, on mobile phones especially, Facebook will begin to splinter into many smaller, more narrowly focused services, some of which won’t even carry Facebook’s branding, and may not require a Facebook account to use.

“The plan is as risky as it is bold …”

Giants, it seem, also go through growing pains.

Here are four more stories found on the beat:

“Green” Apple

Apple has certainly done its part to revolutionize the world. Now, CEO Tim Cook & Co. plan on doing more to save it: All Apple stores are recycling company products for free.

The Associated Press reported Apple is “vowing to power all of its stores, offices and data centers with renewable energy to reduce the pollution caused by its devices and online services.” iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac computer sales topped one billion in the last seven years, the story said.

“We have a long way to go and a lot to learn,” Cook says in an audio file on Apple’s website. “But now, more than ever, we will work to leave the world better than we found it.”

Big data breakdown

The late North Carolina State University men’s basketball coach, Jim Valvano, once said, “There are 86,400 seconds in a day. It’s up to you to decide what to do with them.” The big data enthusiasts at Domo spent their time determining how much data certain online activities generate in just 60 seconds.

Here’s a taste:

  • Email users send 204,000,000 messages.
  • Facebook users share 2,460,000 pieces of content.
  • Twitter users tweet 277,000 times.
  • Pandora users listen to 61,141 hours of music.

Domo’s “Data never sleeps 2.0” infographic is worth a look.

Global governance?

Who, if anyone, should control the Internet? In the wake of the cyberspying scandal involving the National Security Agency (NSA), there is mounting global pressure for the U.S. to share its supervisory role. The Commerce Department oversees the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

However, according to the Wall Street Journal:

“The U.S. is pushing for a transition to supervision by a ‘multistakeholder’ body that includes representatives from governments, the private sector and academia.”

A comment to this Gizmodo story says, “Nobody should have control over the internet. Everybody should have control over the internet.”

Stating his Case

In a Reddit AMA (“ask me anything”), AOL co-founder Steve Case shared his thoughts on the one thing he’d change about the Internet:

“The promise of the Internet was leveling the playing field so all voices can be heard. That has happened — but too often people live in their own echo chambers and are listening to views that reinforce their own views. We’d have a healthier society if people paid more attention to opposing views. Sometimes the answer is somewhere in the middle … That’s what democracy is about. Not my way or your way but our way.”

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

What’s your take? Leave a comment below.