Since Facebook had a … facelift, it has become the talk of the town among my Facebook-oriented social groups, and it appears to have received quite a lot of angry fire from furious users who have become disoriented by the changes. I personally think in terms of usability Facebook has improved, however there are still several huge problems which are beginning to turn me away from Facebook.
1. Facebook attempts to do everything. It is an amalgam of all sorts of different social networking services which at first sounds fantastic but actually ends up really quite a mess. My philosophy on social networking is that each site serves a single purpose and serves it very well; an example of such a site is Twitter – it’s for status updates and it works pretty damn well, even from text and other non-web interfaces. Facebook on the other hand attempts to incorporate status updates with notes (a sort of excuse-for-blogging concept), links (sort of mimicking Pownce), photos (imitating Flikr), groups and networks, events and private messaging all rolled into one enormous bundle, and even more ‘applications’ can be added. This used to be a huge problem as to get to someone’s wall one had to scroll past ‘Hatching Eggs’, ‘Top Friends’, ‘Compare People’, ‘Superlatives’, miscellaneous flash games and all sorts of other rubbish. Fortunately the new layout circumvents this annoyance, although nonsense with invitations like ‘xyz thinks you are gay – add Facebook Gay Application Version 2.4 to return the favour’ (??) still goes on in bulk.
3. Facebook Chat. Socially awkward. Incompatible with Pidgin (last time). Breaks a lot. Distracting when in the middle of doing something on Facebook. Pure evil.
4. Facebook messaging. Bulk messaging is a complete mess and there’s no way to opt out of a spam thread which contains many people all spamming you – you just have to sit there and watch your emails pile up. Even unfriending and blocking them lets them spam you for 30 days.
5. Privacy. Facebook, with its reputation for refusing to delete users from their database and vulnerabilities to maliciously coded applications, is possibly the most anti-privacy website around; it is the antidote to anonymity. The fact that they refuse to delete information on anyone is just incredibly unnerving, and the possibility that Mark Zuckerberg will in the distant future have access to my entire online social history is disturbing to say the least.
Facebook is definitely useful, but I’m beginning to drift away from it. If I want to share links I’d much rather use Digg or StumbleUpon or Pownce than a system in which the link will be quickly buried under a sea of spam application invites, fan page joins and other people’s wall posts.