Those of you who pay attention to investment news already know the story of the hour- Facebook’s gone public.

On Thursday, they filed an IPO, and the entire investment community rejoiced. Several social gaming companies saw their stock skyrocket, and Zuckerberg revealed just how much money he’s really been making off of his world-changing social network- the guy’s got a bloody private jet at his disposal, and is slated to make tens of millions of dollars on the IPO.

Oh, we also have a bit of information on just how fast the business has been growing, as well. It’s already reached 60% penetration in the UK, and Zuckerberg has warned that this expansion will slow in the coming years, because, well…

What’s Going To Happen Now?

Of course, most of you probably don’t much care about all of that. You’re wondering what Facebook’s new status as a publicly traded company means for you, right?

How will this change the face of Facebook? Are investors going to start interferingwith the social network now that they have a say in how it’s run? Are we going to see more advertising, and more data being sold? Facebook’s getting so big that it’s starting to have trouble getting any bigger.

Honestly, this could go any number of ways.

In light of the recent chaos regarding online privacy and concerns involving Facebook’s own use of user data, they could very well end up putting pressure on Facebook to change their policies. We might well see more of an emphasis on the user. Zuckerberg already says he puts an emphasis on making Facebook’s services better for the end user. With pressure from stockholders at his back, he might well be motivated to make even more sweeping improvements to the service.

In other words, Facebook going public could be one of the best things that ever happened to its users. Of course, it could go the other way, too.

We could wind up seeing Facebook lean even more towards corporate interests. More advertising (and, possibly, more intrusive advertising, to boot), more personal data being sold to corporate stakeholders, and maybe even the introduction of a premium, subscription-only suite of services.

Okay, so that last one is about as likely as a whale being elected the next President of the United States.

Hyperbole aside, you see where I’m going with this, right? How the IPO affects the end user depends entirely on how well its chief stockholders understand social media – and how well the current executive can stand up to their pressure. Let’s hope they know what they’re doing, eh?

Image Credits: Vancouver Sun