BOSTON (TheStreet) -- With more than 400 million users, Facebook is a global phenomenon. But its rise to the top of the social networking scene has been far from smooth. Anyone seeing David Fincher's The Social Network this weekend will get a sense of that. Here's a look at five of the biggest mistakes and flubs in the site's short life.
From its earliest days, privacy concerns have dogged Facebook. That reputation could hurt in the long run if users defect or government regulators in the U.S. or Europe) make good on threats to step in.
Loose privacy standards are the core of its revenue generation. Far more than its meager advertising base, the company profits from the granular data mining allowed for by its platform. Its frequent rejiggering of privacy settings means a temporary open window for the grabbing of whatever's been posted by otherwise locked-down users.
The site's Terms of Service agreement essentially says any user content -- be it a thesis paper, wedding photos or even your profile picture -- can be considered their property and usable in any way they see fit.
The site's short-lived Beacon advertising platform was intended to send messages about what your "friends" were buying online. That even actual friends might want some purchases to be private somehow eluded the Social Network geniuses.
More recent outcry revolves around the "like button," a traditional feature users click on to express appreciation for posts or a variety of people, places and things. Recent changes have repurposed it as a privacy-setting bypass, and each click goes public. Along with its Open Graph software, Facebook can get its mitts on other sites you visit, populating them with pushed content and the activity of your "friends" who have also visited.