Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Facebook Homepage Haters Unite

I have just come across this interesting little article about the state of Facebook post-refresh on their homepage. The new homepage really is rubbish and WAY too much like Twitter. To be honest, the design of Facebook has never much rivaled the brilliance of myspace so what can you expect from a CEO who seems to lack much creativity! I say Facebook should let you edit your own profile background etc . . . what do you reckon?

The article is taken from gawker.com.

Has Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg been driven mad by envy? In his effort to redesign his social network in the image of Twitter, he may well end up destroying everything good about it, users say.

Valleywag alumnus Paul Boutin, now writing in the New York Times, dismisses the complaints as "inevitable" gripes from people who don't like change. That may have been true for Facebook's substantial revamp last fall, which smartly cribbed some elements from Twitter. But as people get used to the latest changes, they're starting to realize that this redesign is simply, objectively bad.

Facebook actually introduced status updates before Twitter even launched, a fact few people now remember among the wave of Twitter hype. But the sites have long differed in their presentation of updates. Twitter shows all your friends' updates in an undifferentiated fashion; try to go back more than an hour or two, and you get lost in the noise. Until now, an algorithm has ruled Facebook's presentation of updates, so only the most interesting bits show up on a user's "news feed"; not all updates show up, but the vital ones do.

The redesign replaced the feed on Facebook's homepage with a complete stream of all friends' updates — all the noise of Twitter, but without its simplicity. One annoyance: You can no longer delete status updates from your homepage. Instead, you have to go through an elaborate workaround.

Facebook's algorithmic best-of selections, meanwhile, have been shunted over to a right-hand column which users can't control. That's leading to all kinds of hilarity, a tipster reports:

A woman complained about not being able to delete things from the "highlights" sidebar because a friend is also friends with her ex-husband. The friend tagged the ex in a photo and I guess the photo was popular enough to wind up in the ex-wife's highlights sidebar. So now every time she signs on, there's a photo of her ex-husband waiting to greet her. Awesome!

Another person complained about the same highlights sidebar because several friends had joined a group that uses an X-rated photo for its logo. Having several friends join a group apparently puts the group and its logo in the highlights. She is now greeted with said explicit photo every time she signs on, with no way to get rid of it.

Among the many worthless apps on FB, there is one called "big wet boobs." As I said in my last email, whenever people send virtual stuff to each other, each "gift" shows up one right after the other on your home page. So this person now has dozens and dozens of entries showing "Bob sent so-and-so Big Wet Boobs." (This one in particular sent me into fits of giggles.)

This redesign, in short, promises to be the kind of nightmare presented by Facebook's debacular Beacon ads, which exposed users' purchases to friends willy-nilly before an embarrassed Zuckerberg nixed them.

Facebook's strength has always been its filters — the ability to get a picture of what your friends are up to without being drowned in updates. Zuckerberg has thrown his 175 million users into the deep end of the pool, with the thought that the masses are like him and his friends — omnivorous consumers of momentary trivia. There's a reason why Facebook has more than 175 million users and Twitter a mere 6 million: Because Facebook has offered a better product than Twitter.

Has, past tense. Facebook snuck up behind MySpace and zoomed past it; it is now almost twice the size of the struggling News Corp. property. Zuckerberg appears to be worried Twitter will do the same. Certainly there are Twitter fanatics telling him he's missing the boat, 140 characters at a time, all day long. And Zuckerberg is right to be paranoid. But there's a reason why paranoia is classified as insanity.


Christine said...

I saw the title of your post and could not bounce in here fast enough .... but for obviously different reasons that your post stated.
Being on facebook for about 2 1/2 days, I have nothing to compare it to. But I did not like the deal about the example you provided with the x-wife/x-husband's picture ... I found that I could not delete certain things, that I really wanted gone.

Kye said...

Amen to that! Myspace is farrrr better than facebook, but I will admit I do have a facebook page as well. Only reason being because I have stubborn friends who refuse to get myspace but will get a f.b.- don't ask me why, I'm left confused too.

That little article was dead on though. All the new stupid features for facebook make me hate it and how complex it can be even more.

I like your blog- I'm gonna follow it. Mind checking mine out? Take Care :)

Anonymous said...

I had a facebook account for awhile, I didn’t use it much for over a year, maybe more. I added a friend at the friend's request and within a few days I ended up adding dozens of friends through a network of friends (close to 100). I was a prominent member of an organization of which former members now seek support through networking tools like facebook.

In addition to adding many friends I did have some nude pictures on there, I admit that I did not read the fine print and I thought that only a few friends could see the pictures.

I’m a little surprised that freedoms are surpressed and censorship is so punitive when facebook friendships are restricted to only those you allow to see your account. What happens between friends is the business of facebook? I was sharing pictures with close friends only. I wouldn’t want my mom to see them, therefore I wouldn’t accept her as a friend. Without warning my account was disabled.

I have mixed feelings about it. I question how “private” facebook is and I question their “punishment.” There was never an opportunity to correct the situation, which I would have gladly done. I question the “right” facebook has to allow you to establish a network that they arbitrarily take away, without any kind of due process there will be friends with which I will never be able to reconnect.

There are limits to how much any business can regulate or censor its customers, even violate their constitutional rights, when they invite the public to their business. If I am in a store and the store doesn’t like a picture I show a friend, can the store kick me out? Can they ban me from the store permanently? How far does public policy allow us to go with the censorship?

Facebook is a private company, but so is the telephone company and they can't disconnect a call because they don’t like the subject of my conversation. The post office is not public and they can't refuse to deliver mail for which they find the contents offensive. If I violate the policies of the phone company, post office or any store they do not have the right to dismiss me permanently without a warning, notice or hearing. Personally, I think it is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Generally harm or loss must attach. In addition to the emotional distress people suffer, what about the connections people make to stay with others around the world? When those connections are lost, it isn’t difficult to calculate a monetary loss. In addition to many other scenarios, there may even be medical or healthcare advice being exchanged that could cause serious injury or death. I realize that facebook is putting the public on “notice” when it has the policy online. However, those wrap-around or adhesion contracts do not stand up in every state. Facebook should have an expectation that they could be hauled into court in any jurisdicton through long arm statutes and international treaty. I’m sure they address that in their “contract” as well, but, again, those don’t always stand up.

What’s also interesting is that apparently some receive a warning and some do not. This is but one of the warnings found on facebook’s “help center warnings.”

“You received this warning because a photo or video that you uploaded has been removed for violating Facebook’s Terms of Use. Photos and videos containing nudity, drug use, or other graphic content are not allowed, nor are photos or videos that depict violence or that attack an individual or group. Unfortunately, for technical reasons, we are unable to provide further information about the removed content. In order to prevent this from happening in the future, please refrain from posting photos or videos of this kind and remove any that still exist on the site.”


Apparently there are different standards for different individuals. It would be interesting to see the different standards used for different groups. In other words, is facebook discriminating? Does facebook have less tolerance for gays, lesbians, blacks, hispanics, women, etc.? They invited the public, they have to play by the rules of our society. The rules include some constitutional rights. While it is true that I don't have to join facebook anymore than I have to go to a store, it is also true that no one ever said facebook had to open a business and invite the public.