Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Facebook rant

I've had just about enough of Facebook; its hanging onto my custom by a very thin thread. I'm finding more and more reasons to turn it off as time passes. Why? Here's why.

1) Walled garden. If I add my content to Facebook, it's still my content. I should be able to do what I like with it.
1a) If I add a photo in Facebook, or add a video in Facebook, I can't embed a thumbnail link to it from my blog
1b) If I want to get my information out, I can't. This makes me very nervous about putting it in.

2) Sucky user experience. Where do I start?
2a) If I want to track all the changes made by all my friends, I can't. I just get a selection chosen by Facebook (alright, I can change the emphasis by stating my preferences, but what if I want all changes and all additions by all my friends?)
2b) What if I want to follow these changes via my chosen centralised tool (my RSS feed reader)? Answer: I can't.
3c) I've listed several others before. The above two annoy me enough to write this second post, though.

3) Poor treatment of developers
3a) As my colleague has found, if you build applications using Facebook's tools, they have a habit of changing their platform without warning. Net result; broken application. What if your livelihood depended on this?
3b) Some developers have reported that their ideas have been stolen by Facebook. There's no way of proving that Facebook weren't already developing these ideas themselves beforehand, but there is an awful lot of smoke.

It all smacks of arrogance. At the recent FOWA conference, Dave Morin (Senior Platform Manager at Facebook) talked about how the photo app was built in two weeks. And how the events app was built in a day. If they can make changes this quickly, why haven't I seen any improvements on the site since I started using it in March? Are they too busy playing frisbee with Google? Why aren't they communicating with us? I mean, one blog entry since 26 September is hardly keeping an open dialogue. And, I'm sorry, but not allowing people to leave comments means it isn't a blog, anyway. Ironic that they're something of a faceless entity, isn't it?

I've already predicted that future competitive products will be more open. Perhaps if this is true, Facebook will open up their platform to match. I honestly don't think they'll have much of a choice. In other words, they might be milking their current system (forcing people to their site to watch their adverts) for all it's worth for as long as they can. And we, their customers, simply cannot let them get away with this if it turns out to be the case.

To be fair, I've also been thinking about what I like about Facebook. I like the fact that I've used it to reconnect with friends I'd lost touch with. Some of the applications are interesting. And I like that I get some information from people that I wouldn't otherwise get. But most of the useful updates I receive via Facebook are from other people's twitter feeds i.e. I get those already. Now, if I could just convince my friends in Facebook to move over to Twitter, I wouldn't need Facebook any more. They can link to their photos on Flickr or Picasa Web Albums. They can link to their videos on Youtube. And we can follow and filter all this either in real time (via Twitterriffic) or at leisure (RSS feed). No need for Facebook any more.

They say that every time you hurt the web, a LOLCat dies. Well, Facebook, you're killing a lot of LOLCats right now, and I'll be the first to cheer when the LOLRSPCA pay you a visit.

What's your Facebook beef?

3 comments:

FND said...

See, that's why I still haven't signed up yet, and probably won't do so either. (Especially 1b makes me very suspicious).

I do love Twitter though, and I'm grateful that you've made me join the hype there.

Phil Hawksworth said...

A great post.

I can't help but agree with all of our points, but there is one thing that Facebook has that means it has value to me. That one thing is momentum. I have been reconnected with several old friends who, prior to Facebook, had no footprint on the web. Since Facebook reached a critical mass and enticed so many of my friends to sign up it has been useful to me.

I'm a massive fan of Twitter and flickr, and would much rather connect with friends old and new, through those sites, but for the time being, Facebook seems to be more successful at this.

Phil Hawksworth said...

A great post.

I can't help but agree with all of our points, but there is one thing that Facebook has that means it has value to me. That one thing is momentum. I have been reconnected with several old friends who, prior to Facebook, had no footprint on the web. Since Facebook reached a critical mass and enticed so many of my friends to sign up it has been useful to me.

I'm a massive fan of Twitter and flickr, and would much rather connect with friends old and new, through those sites, but for the time being, Facebook seems to be more successful at this.