Okay, before anything else: If you’re one of those people whose Facebook profile pic is you looking into your webcam all bemused like you’re somehow above everyone else, you need to change that. Immediately. You are despised by everyone, and by me most of all.
Thanks, I feel better now. On with today’s post…
Facebook is a very convenient way to keep up with people you know, or don’t — if they’ve no other presence online. If they do you need to find where they live and hang with them there. Seriously.
It would be very convenient for me to blame my love/hate relationship with Facebook on my particular set of friends — most of whom are working the Toronto comedy racket and have been known to derail a serious conversation or two with a witty rejoinder, or jam the airwaves altogether with a shameless marketing campaign for a live appearance. But really, they’re only behaving in accordance to the customs of their tribe. And like any other social network there are many tribes on many islands, each with rules and regulations to call their own.
The problem with Facebook isn’t its users — it’s that Facebook is a terrible experience by design.
As Facebook is so popular, it’s the best (i.e. worst) example of the “you make it, we own it” Web 2.0 business model. I’m “Facebook friends” with many a blogger who regularly republish their posts on Fb and get lots of comments there, while the site that begat this discussion in the first place lingers in silence, barren of feedback. That ain’t right.
Of course you could manually copy, timestamp and paste comments from Facebook onto your own blog, but you shouldn’t have to. Sadly, that seems to be your only option — I can’t even get the RSS feeds for my posted content and statuses to work.
In fact, about the only thing you can count on making it out of Facebook is your sensitive user data, like that email address you use to log in, for example.
Those stupid, stupid apps.
At the time I thought this was subtle and effective hacktivism. But I don’t think anyone got the message.
Here again is the message: There is no free ride. All those quizzes and such harvest data from your Facebook account, about who you are, who your friends are and your collective interests. But you already knew that, right?
There’s a kludge for that.
A by-product of these apps is that notices, quiz results et al get dumped into your Facebook news feed like the toxic sludge that they are. But never fear — Facebook’s “hide” feature is here! Unfortunately it’s a right mess — i.e. opt-out by default instead of opt-in — so you’ll be spending more time freeing your incoming stream of junk than, you know, interacting with your friends.
Speaking of kludges, let’s take a look at Facebook’s privacy settings, particularly photos. It’s totally not hard, as clicking on a random stranger’s profile pic gives you a 50/50 chance of seeing every other photo they’ve uploaded, whether the two of you are friends or not. It’s all thanks to, how shall we say… the utter catastrophe that is privacy on Facebook.
It’s not just that the settings are deliberately confusing; it seems that whatever privacy promised to Facebook users is turning out to be a bald-faced lie. So the point of having this walled garden in the first place is…?
Where the cool kids play.
Sure, I know, the value of any social network is in the people that use it. That’s why I tolerate this crap. Barely. A few of my BFFs will venture out from the comforting womb of Facebook into the big, scary Internet to read this; most will comment on my hilarious (or not) photo or the title of this post from within Fb, never bothering to read the rest.
Their loss, sadly, as the really cool shit is going down here, on this site’s Twitter account and my own. At this point Facebook is only useful to me as a messaging service; the rest of it I keep at arm’s length.
It stinks that much.