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Where Facebook went wrong.

by Brandon on September 6th, 2006

Everyone is talking about the new Facebook updates that happened yesterday. I first heard there were new features when I saw a friend’s personal message on Messenger exclaiming how great the new “Feeds” were.

My first reaction was, “Whoa, cool.” Which quickly was replaced with “What the hell!” I was really only bothered a little bit, mostly thinking that the execution was the problem and not the idea. That didn’t stop me from posting status messages like “Brandon is going to the bathroom. This update brought to you by Facebook, your one-stop stalk shop.” Because I’m just too damn clever like that.

But really I don’t think these features “go too far” as others have said. But I would have done things differently. For example:

1) No warning. No one knew this was coming. There was no chance to provide feedback.
2) A lot happened at once. These kinds of changes should have been rolled out gradually (which is what people are used to with Facebook features), so they’d be less overwhelming.
3) It was retro-active. So status messages, updates, etc that had happened in the past (and most users thought were gone forever) were suddenly visible in a nice little timeline for the world to see. If they’d said “Okay from now on your changes will show up here unless you turn this feature off” I think it would have softened the blow. Instead, you logged into your profile page and saw a list of things you’d done on Facebook over the last days or weeks that you had no idea were being tracked for public view.

4) Not everyone uses Facebook the way it’s intended. Judging by their response to the uproar, it sounds like they want Facebook to be a place where your friends are really your friends – and each of them is just as close a friend as the next. In reality, many users (myself included) have people as “friends” on Facebook that we haven’t talked to in years. And while every once in a while it’s interesting to check up on what old high school acquaintances are up to, it’s another thing to see a daily account of everything they do delivered to your Facebook homepage.

What would help them a lot would be if they’d implemented this on a group level. Instead of having a News Feed of everything all 120 of my “friends” do, it would show just updates from my closest circle (or circles) of friends.

That said – I do see their point. Even though there are a lot of people on my Facebook friends list that I haven’t talked to in ages, they’re all people I knew personally at one time. This is in contrast to MySpace where I think the paradigm is a bit different. In some ways, this move is almost counter to the MySpace direction – as it distinguishes Facebook as a place where you keep in touch and share with your close friends – whereas MySpace is a more public-facing view of your online social life.

Here are some more links about the changes:

Fred Stutzman on Facebook as an “Identity Archive

Liz Gannes says Facebook makes itself useful.

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One Comment
  1. Nice post! GA is also my biggest earning. However, itís not a much.

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