10 reasons the US government needs to bail out Facebook

Keep our favourite social-networking site alive.

Facebook: we love it.

Facebook: we love it.

It's all doom and gloom on the economic front, no more so than in the US. The latest corporate giant to suffer the effects of the US recession is the ridiculously popular social-networking site Facebook.

In October 2007 Microsoft bought a minority stake in Facebook for $US240 million — theoretically meaning Facebook was worth a massive $15 billion.

However, a Valleywag article reports that "Facebook is not publicly traded, but an informal market exists for its stock. Employees who have vested their stock options and others who have gotten their hand on Facebook shares sell them to wealthy investors and a handful of obscure outfits which specialize in buying private-company shares, like MTVLP and Apercen Partners.”

"We've heard of shares trading for $5.50, which suggests a valuation for Facebook of around $2.3 billion, but that's the highest. There's plenty of interest for shares at prices between $2.50 and $4 — though those are distressed prices. At the low end of that range, Facebook would be worth a mere $1.3 billion — less than a tenth of the price at which Microsoft invested its $240 million last year."

A corporate loss of $13.7 imaginary dollars in such a short period is obviously cause for alarm for Facebook users everywhere. At PC World, we're not just alert, but also alarmed. It this trend continues, more than 100 million people face the devastating loss of the ability to gratuitously "poke" each other, write drunken notes on walls and upload embarrassing photos. No ifs, no buts: the US government needs to pony up money from the multi-billion-dollar bailout package to ensure Facebook survives this devastating loss of theoretical dollars.

We've gathered 10 irrefutable reasons why a juicy bailout cheque should be made out to Mark Zuckerberg before Facebook folds.

#10: We need to keep Bubble 2.0 over-inflated: The last thing we need is another dot com bust — and the $240 million Microsoft handed over for a small slice of Facebook seems to indicate that at least two corporations are trying to keep the best tech traditions of the late '90s alive.

#9: It makes it easier to find out which of your friends still have jobs so you can leech off them. As the economy in the US and elsewhere starts to derail, more people are getting the pointy end of the stick, with corporations down-sizing left, right and centre. Social networking is a great way to find out who has escaped the axe — and then cadge a few dollars off them.

#8: It makes it easier to find out which of your friends just lost their jobs so you can send condolences. Chances are, people you know are going to be heading for the corporate chopping block. Sending a hug via "super-poke" is much better than seeing them in person — it makes it harder for them to cadge a few dollars off you.

#7: Once your employer decides that your services are no longer required, it'll give you something to fill your days with. Also, see reason #9.

#6: Given the tough economic climate employers want to know when people are pulling a sickie. Facebook rule #1: Never talk about Facebook. Er, or is it never add your boss as a friend.

#5: We don't need to be more depressed. People are already doing it tough without realising that the 231 friends on their profile... aren't actually their friends. If Facebook folds we'll be stuck with whatever meagre barrel-scraping acquaintances we can come up with and the pain of face-to-face interactions (80 per cent of which, for the moment, revolve around What We Learned From Facebook Today).

#4: How else are employers going to screen potential employees? Please: don't forget to de-tag those pictures of the night out before you apply for your next job. It wasn't hilarious at the time, and in the cold (and sober) light of day it's even less amusing.

#3: How many awkward conversations would people need to have if they couldn't break up on Facebook? Okay, you're doing it tough — you realise you have no real friends, you've lost your job and your prospective employer just saw a photo of you handcuffed to a pole with no pants on. It's taking its toll on your relationship so maybe it's time to move on. OMG — you're going to have "that talk" instead of unilaterally changing your Facebook status.

#2: If people don't compulsively use Facebook at work productivity would increase. Forty per cent more output = employers may suddenly discover that perhaps its time to trim salary costs.

And the number 1 reason Facebook needs to be bailed out:

#1: Because if Facebook folds, the terrorists have won. And by terrorists we mean MySpace. Say what you like about Facebook's new layout, it doesn't come close to the visual (and, occasionally, aural) assault on the senses of badly designed and poorly customised MySpace pages.

Super-special bonus reason: It gives the PC World staff an excuse to look at their Facebook page and tell the editor they're doing research.

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