Why Facebook sucks, for all of us.

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.

Data Porta-non-ability.

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.

Back before the great redesign of 2008 I invited my Facebook BFFs to send me 100 apps; in return I’d put them all on my home page. Here’s what it looked like.

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.

Priva-see.

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.

39 comments:

  1. I don’t have time to read this really cool shit, can you post it on Facebook as a status update?

  2. So maybe it’s my Facebook friends after all. 🙄

    Did anything I wrote above resonate with you at all? Privacy, data portability, digital rights? Such things are possible on the Internet…

    Do you care?

  3. I see the need for more cross platform talk (isn’t there an app for that?), haven’t personally found a use for any of the apps and not too concerned about the privacy issue – although I’m not impressed when “change the look” and don’t copy over your settings.

  4. I so want to delete my Facebook account. I broke up with Facebook a couple of weeks ago and have only gone back once or twice to see if I really missed it. I was first surprised to see the shitty redesign that made me even more confused than I usually am when I sign on to it. I don’t give a shit if someone has grown a monkey or whacked a doodle. And as far as seeing someone’s crappy pictures of their loaded friends at their wicked party, I’d rather look at their Picasa or Flickr gallery. I tried FriendFeed and found that it was an interesting Twitter-like but not enough people were actually on it. So, Twitter wins. I’ve liked it from the beginning. So many ways to use it, simple, clean and no games. I just wish that my friends would wake up and realize how ridiculous Facebook is and give it the boot and come over to Twitter.

  5. So that’s it. I am leaving Facebook today. I have deleted all of my photos and tried my best to obfuscate any information that they may have on me. I don’t know what exactly was the last straw but I’m pretty sure it was this latest partnering program. I didn’t share a lot of info and photos or even “like” things that much or even use Facebook “apps”. I didn’t even spend any time on there trying to see what my friends were saying. I just found that every time I used it, I went away feeling tired, sticky and confused…. er um no that’s not it… angry. I was actually angry at Facebook after using it. And not just a little bit angry. Shaking angry. And I only get that angry with road rage. Is this a new phenomenon? Facebook rage.
    So at 5pm today…. Me and Facebook are done. Kaput. My friends will have to find me elsewhere on teh interwebs or even call me on the phone once in a while. Grrrr.

  6. I can count my friends with my hands and toes. I don’t need 1500 friends, because no one has that many to begin with. Unless the # equates to the term friends, sure go ahead and believe the number. Will the number come knocking at your door when you’re sick with the flu? Will that # bring you a cup of soup when you fall ill? Unfortunately I don’t know too many that really honestly care enough to be there no matter what, through thick and thin. I don’t need superficial friends, and that is what facebook is all about. How about hiding the number of friends one has?! Why does it even matter that this turns into a popularity game or to make one feel better about his/herself. What about that cousin that the only time you know what they are up to, or how their children are growing is through facebook? If you can’t take the time to call, email or actually pay a visit to me in person, you’re not my friend. I actually have a nice list of what a friend should be, and facebook isn’t one of them!

  7. There is a new one out there that records no information at all and has a password system that can hide everything if you don’t want to let any one see anything. It’s called Me’ Mini Post.

    Its like a open twitter with more and they dont keep old posts or record anything not even your IP. It’s add free and they also let you atach youtube videos, photos, and links and they dont use up your post count. They have tuchscreen apps and 3 modes to there site like Wide, Normal, and Mini.

    I have been impresed with there site.

    They keep everything simple, and easy. So if your looking for a place to share posts with your friends that is the place to go, you can comment on pages, upload photos, fan & follow people, and they let you have a cool feed on your site with a small code that is in there menu, also they give some of the best of both twitter and facebook like email like message system.

    Take a look and sorry for going on about them but as its a new site its hard to show people what they have.

    http://www.sbih.co.cc:8080/Me

  8. I agree with the poster Steph, if you can’t take the time to call or email me then you’re not my friend. How FUCKED up it is that I found out my suppose “best friend” was getting married through facebook!? She couldn’t call me or at least email me about it. That is when I decided to pull the plug on FB. If you can’t bother to get in touch with me for real, then don’t bother AT ALL.

  9. Don’t just deactivate your facebook account because they will hold onto your personal info. You can permanently delete here:

    http://www.facebook.com/help/faq/

    Scroll down to the question about how to permanently delete your account. There is a form you fill out and then it takes 14 days to delete.

    I had to email facebook and then they sent me this information a few days later. If you go to their help page yourself there’s no information on how to delete your account–just deactivate it. I don’t trust any site that makes it difficult to permanently remove yourself from it.

  10. I totally agree with Linda J. Unfortunately, that’s one of the greatest arguments luddites have. People become increasingly disconnected from each other, because nobody has the time to call or visit anymore. And why don’t they have the time? They’re on “social networking” sites, tweaking every micro-minutiae and friending virtual friends who are willing to provide content that you can’t give away for free.

  11. FB does indeed suck. A social networking tool should work well if you travel – but no…if you should dare to access this marvel of crap from what FB thinks is a different IP, woe is you…you get a roadblock. After answering many ludicrous questions to supposedly confirm your identity (which oddly enough do NOT actually ensure your identity at all), you may be allowed back to the bucket of junk. But only if FB thinks you worthy. If you are one of those people who actually use privacy enhancing tools such as privoxy and tor then you are totally screwed. FB makes sure you’ll be locked out. FB is a tool to make you a conformist, NOT and individual.

    FB sucks and they can keep their stinking pile garbage they call social networking. After all, I don’t want to know each time one of my “friends” has thought of a witty remark.

  12. Facebook is the most “WORTHLESS” thing ever created by a human. Sure, it was probably great when it was only restricted to students and colleges. But after they went with the idea to create “A NEW GENERATION SOCIAL NETWORK” and decided to open it to the public, they just shot poop at themselves.
    I’ve been using it for almost 2 years, and the ONLY so-called “interesting interactive features” that i saw there were mainly childish status updates, like: “OMG!! I got a new MAC…yuppy!”, “I’m sick and tired of friends not responding to my messages” etc…. Not to mention all those s****y apps and invites to try them that i kept receiving almost every day.
    So at the end, while many consider it as an EXTREMELY IMPORTANT tool for their life, i consider it as an unnecessary tool that gives you absolutely nothing, other than just a “stalk or be stalked” game and the illusion of being someone important.

  13. With everyone being talking about facebook I got curious this year and also joined up. Carefull from the beginning, the only infrmation they got from me is my spammable email adress and the IPs I used when connecting – and I’m happy about it. After just 3 days I realized: facebook can continue. Without me. Unfortounatly I didn’t know I could delete my profile. SO I just changed everything to “asdlfldfhflkda” and similar nonsense and deactivated it

  14. Facebook is for robotic, synthetic humans who are totally out of thouch with their emotions and feelings. It is for people who are unable to genuinely communicate, eye to eye, face to face. The man on Facebook with over 1000 ”friends” is the same man who is the mute, sat in the corner of a bar, unable to verbally communicate himself in any authentic and real way.

  15. Lol the problem is that, somehow, people are getting so fucking obsessed with this shit. I have a FB account, I maybe check it twice a day. This slugore dude acts like deleting his account was like going through a divorce! Don’t be ridiculous dude.

  16. Andrew,
    Thanks for writing this. I totally understand your frustration and agree completely. Not to sound like some sort of spambot or anything, but my partner and I have been building a social network to take on facebook. Which sounds absolutely insane in this day and age. But I think there are a lot of people like you and me (and a lot of the people commenting here) who do either hate it or just don’t think it’s good enough at what it should do.

    So we’ve been working on SocialMore.com as a result. In fact we’re going into our private alpha this week and should have the public beta up before the end of 2010.

    All the points that you make above are addressed in the new site. Such as owning your own content (being able to export it from the site) as well as some very simple and powerful privacy controls. SocialMore is not a facebook clone, it offers a lot that’s different. Including a different philosophy behind running it. But it’s just going to take some effort to get it off the ground and get people using it.

      1. Yeah I’ve been keeping an eye on those guys for the last few months. It looks alright. I don’t see what the big deal is though. I think it’s way to complicated for the average joe. Sure guys like you and I might get it. But I’m not 100% sure everyone else will. Especially when people are used to just signing up and logging in at websites.

        I think there is definitely room for both socialmore and diaspora to co-exist. We both carry the same philosophy that the end user owns their content and their private information. But they are decentralized and we are centralized (for now). Although we’ve definitely talked about a self hosted solution. But we’re very concerned about privacy, so the way socailmore is currently be built is to run like separate little sites on our own servers and not other peoples servers.

        It’s not just about that though. It’s about features. So far diaspora’s claim to fame only seems to be the fact that they are a self hosted decentralized solution. I’m not sure they have the ideas we have.

  17. Facebook is only marginally less of a time suck than the internet as a whole. It’s biggest advance is that it has quantified the uselessness to the extreme. It is the modern day equivalent of the old AOL chatrooms. Pointless wastes of time filled with mindless garbage sliced and diced for mass consumption. We’ve been whored.

  18. FACEBOOK is nothing more than a circus, that host apps like Mafia wars, FarmTown , Yoville, which are nothing more than cheap booths at the circus.

    I NEVER blame other members for the triviality and general retardedness of FACEBOOK, but I will blame anybody who actually hasn’t figured all this out by now and hasn’t dropped FB like the bad habit it is.
    IF you need support, come to me … I’ll talk ya down and out of FB…and set you freeeeee….

  19. I have personally sworn to beat the ever living crap out of any FB developer that I see within 20 yards of me. (If I ever go to Silicon Valley). Unless its a female… In that case I will sneak up and drop her pants to her ankles, take a photo of her and then post it on facebook.

  20. It’s weird, because I almost feel like people that used to hang out in the street and talk about random shit (do YOU like when that nerd kid raises his hand and blows a fart?) now just stay at home and make Facebook groups about it so that they can get updates from their phone and stay nice and warm.

    I had Facebook for 4 years and deleted it 6 months ago. You’d be AMAZED at how much more color the world has…

  21. I hate Facebook because, because I was always bullied in the internet. My profile terrorized just because I liked something else than the others.

  22. I don’t hate Facebook, its actually great when used properly. I recently removed most of my pictures and personal info from the site and planning to open my profile to everyone. Its actually a great way to communicate via chat because almost everyone else is using it nowadays.

  23. Contrary to what Zuckerberg thinks, facebook is actually one of the least user friendly platforms on the entire web.BY FAR! In computer programming my professor spent five minutes criticizing it. For example, you can no longer search a name and narrow the results by a city; rather Zuckerberg would rather take a stab in the dark based on some not so impressive algorithms. Does that even make sense?!?! If I meet someone knew, my friends are probably not mutual because I just met them and had to search them… Think Zuckerberg Think!!! I can’t wait till the next new thing comes around… IN SUMMARY: GOOGLE, A FOREVER RESPECTED ENTITY, SAYS IT ALL. TYPE: “MARK ZUCKERBERG IS” INTO GOOGLE…EVERY RESULT THAT GOOGLE SUGGESTS IS TRUE AND DEROGATORY… THAT SUMS IT UP!

  24. Great article . . I just found even more reasons why I fucking hate Fakebook. Here are some of mine:
    1. I can’t get through a day without hearing something about it.
    2. It’s like a fucking disease. It’s on ALL webpages. If you go to someones website, do you really want to distract them with FB and tell them to go to FB instead of staying at your site?
    3. People are getting nuerotic with the checking of the status of it. This IS going to destroy concentration – what you need to do anything great.

    And WTF is Twitter about?

  25. Facebook sucks! It transforms perfectly nice people you know in real life into attention-seeking, narcissistic, self-centred, egotistical idiots. It’s always about “me, me and me”. The collective IQ of a facebook wall comments list must be in single digits. I never gained any productive information from that place.

    It was annoying to read comments from those self-absorbed idiots in Facebook: “I did some holiday shopping”, “I’m getting married in December”, “I love the author who wrote the Alchemist…whats his name again?”…fuck off, idiot I’m not interested to do what you’re doing in your neck of the woods. However, I don’t blame them for their silly posts. After all, if I meet them in person, they’ll be talking the same. It’s just that I would rather tolerate your small talk in my direct presence than in Facebook first thing in the morning.

    As soon as things came to a head, I simply decided to delete half my contacts, except most of the beautiful girls! I guess I can put up with some of their shit. Only, beautiful girls are allowed to stay in my profile. I generally avoid any new male contacts except 3-4 really close friends coz 1) the others are mostly lame and 2) they talk gay and 3) I never connected with them anyway despite spending several years with those same people in various walks of life.

    I also generally avoid commenting on someone’s wall posts. Not that it isn’t worth commenting on sometimes. But, I hate the torrent of follow-up comments in my contact’s wall (lamer, each one than the rest) from people I never knew or if I knew them, hated those assholes with all my guts. I have also re-adjusted my Facebook settings so I don’t get annoying emails when some idiot decides to add me on Facebook or send some message or replied to a wall post 2 years back!

    As of now, I have at least 16 pending friend requests from undesirable idiots who I actually hated in the past! I don’t want to wake up in the morning to see their fucking faces for the rest of my life.

    Lastly, I have also limited the amount of time spent on Facebook. Even six months back, I used to waste 4 hours a day on that gay site. Today, I check my account once in three days or even 2 weeks!

    The world was a happier place before that idiot son of a bitch called Mark Zuckerberg decided to create Facebook. Relationships were more meaningful and people were more genuine.

    And, I hate this Facebook-addict generation. Either get out and meet me in real, or just fuck off! I dont need you in my life.

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