Demand Media is no stranger to controversy, and the subject of the company's content and the Google love it receives, has come back into the spotlight as the company launched an IPO this week, and Google is now saying it's going to alter its strategy on content farms. More on this here, here, and here.
Demand is also facing some amount of user backlash, as it is moving to a Facebook log-in-only approach on its eHow.com site (hat tip: ReadWriteWeb and Inside Facebook). eHow reportedly sent an email to users letting them know as much. On an FAQ page, an eHow community manager says:
We are committed to continuously improving your experience on our site. Facebook Login, formerly known as Facebook Connect, already exists as an option for members to login to eHow.com. The overall benefit of utilizing Facebook Login is that users can immediately connect with those they rely on and trust most: their Facebook friend network. Also, Facebook Login adds simplicity to eHow.com by helping users streamline their friend lists and eliminating the need for users to have to remember multiple logins. Facebook Login has revolutionized login across the Web, and we’re catching the wave.
Here are a few of the comments from eHow users:
"I use Facebook rarely but don't want my ehow stuff and my facebook connected either."
"I think forcing the use of facebook is an invasion of privacy. My writing is not something that I share with my friends and family. I know it's kind of weird that I am private about that but I don't need everybody knowing what I choose to do in my spare time. I resent this transfer a great deal."
"Forcing the use of Facebook is not a good idea. I have a FB account but do not wish to use it for this purpose. In fact, I rarely use FB in the first place - too easy to waste time."
"I agree that Facebook should not be "forced" to be the ONLY way to get into eHow... why not make using your Facebook account - if you have one - an "OPTION"!?!? You know, something that resembles freedom of choice!"
I agree that this is a horrible move on eHow's part, unless they are owned by Facebook. I do have a Facebook, but I ONLY use it to connect with friends & family, people I KNOW. I don't play Mafia Wars, or FarmVille & I block those applications from my wall. I don't follow companies so I can get spammed. If I could connect through Twitter or my gMail I MIGHT consider it, but a seperate login should always be an option.
Could this be a move aimed at trying to drive more social traffic to articles with the new threat of losing some of the Google love eHow has been enjoying for quite some time (though this notion is disputed by Demand Media)? It's unclear at this point, whether it will actually have any bearing on that, but the timing is interesting. It does seem clear that it is going to alienate some users.
It should, however, be pretty good for Facebook, considering the amount of eHow content that is out there. This wouldn't be the first significant thing Demand Media has done for Facebook's Open Graph.