Facebook has been building good will from major Internet software communities, but an arrogant move has caused a major backlash this month. Can they recover?
FILE – In this Tuesday, April 18, 2017, file photo, conference workers speak in front of a demo booth at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, in San Jose, Calif. Facebook announced Tuesday, June 27, 2017, that it now has more than 2 billion users. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
Facebook has released a decent size library of open source software, perhaps most notably the React system. React is a tool for creating dynamic websites. But Facebook tied an unusual license to the project, one that restricts your ability to defend yourself should Facebook sue you over patents.
As a result of that license being incompatible with most projects, the community of people using React, or wanting to use React, asked Facebook to change the license. They have refused. As a result, the dominos are falling of communities rejecting all Facebook software.
Apache was first. The Apache Foundation makes the world’s most popular web server, along with many popular projects serving as the building blocks of the Internet. Facebook-licensed code is banned from the entire project. Apache will seek alternatives, diminishing Facebook’s mindshare.
Now WordPress is next. WordPress – which RedState has run on for years – was set to announce a major rewrite of the post writing and administrative interface built on the React library. But now that’s not going to happen, and in fact code that already uses React will be written to use something else.
These are major opportunities to get the community, and the world, using their libraries and making Facebook better as a result. However Facebook now has lost those opportunities through arrogance, and Facebook’s code will become a niche tool, far less likely to see wide use and adoption.
Contrast with Apple, who made their Safari browser great because they collaborated with the open source KDE project, or Google. Google has done serious open source work, and continues to do so. Facebook now has catching up to do.