Just admit it: You have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. You love it because it keeps you up-to-date with your favorite websites (cough) and in-touch with family and friends. You hate it because, well, it feels like one giant circle jerk that, err, keeps you maybe a little too much in touch with your family and friends. The oversharing. The baby pictures. The obnoxious political status updates. The pointless flame wars. Love it or hate it, Facebook is just simply a fact of life for digital citizenship in the 21st century.
But remember: You can opt out at any time.
As much as people bitch, complain, and throw stupid hissy fits about Facebook on Facebook, Facebook controls Facebook, a ginormous public company with a seemingly-conflicted value in the broader economic marketplace. How we -- the Facebook users -- use The Book as a whole has serious implications for the company, in both the short term for the site's immediate revenue generation models and the long-term for the social network's overall survival. Will it continue to integrate deeper and deeper into our day-to-day lives? Will we have to LIKE a movie before buying a damn ticket to see the movie? Or will we just say "meh, good ride, Zucks" sometime in the future and collectively ride into the social media sunset while shrugging our shoulders and deleting our accounts?
Thousands of blog posts have been written on this subject. Most much, much more informative than this one. And, like many of you who came of age in the Facebook era (back when you needed an3 .edu address to sign up!), I can prattle on for days on this very subject. But it's more worthwhile to direct you attention to a blog post on the subject penned by one of our Bro entrepreneurial heroes, Mark Cuban. Titled "What I Really Think About Facebook," Cuban's treatise details exactly what he loves and hates about The Social Network. Go read it in full. It's heavy in important social business media jargon, but paints a good picture of the state of Facebook in November 2012. In the meantime, I've outlined some SparkNotes below.
Facebook's not in touch with its own identity:
FB is what it is. It's a time waster. That's not to say we don't engage, we do. We click, share and comment because it's mindless and easy. But for some reason FB doesn't seem to want to accept that its best purpose in life is as a huge time suck platform that we use to keep up with friends, interests and stuff. I think that they are over-thinking what their network is all about.”
Being a time suck that people enjoy is a good thing. There is a comfort in turning on the TV and having it work without any thought required. It's easy. It is the best 5-hour-on-average per day alternative to boredom.
There is a comfort in going on FB and seeing what pictures pop up from friends or from pages you have liked. FB is not something you have to rush through. All those pictures and posts are not going anywhere. FB is easy. In particular it's a great alternative to boredom when you are stuck somewhere and all you have is your phone. Actually it's a life saver. Head down on FB beats the hell out of that awkward feeling that you may have to at least acknowledge and possibly talk to the person next to you. Put another way, FB really risks screwing up something that is special in our lives as a time waster by thinking they have to make it more engaging and efficient.
It's cluttered with bullshit from people you don't really give a shit about:
Who really appreciates that some posts rise to the top of their newsfeed because some folks they used to work with and are still friends with shared a baby picture? Not only do I not like it, I like even less the obligation I feel to like the picture so I don't seem like some grump.
I dont want to know about where you are in Wizard of Oz (currently navigating Edgerank up my top stories feed). Our FB networks have grown so big and unfriending someone is so much more difficult than it should be, that we just don't do it. Hence, our news feed is not so pure. The math may be efficient but the result is not.
Facebook relies too much on algorithms rather than real, human intelligence:
We should know better than an algorithm what those who like us actually like. It may well be that it's a passive relationship. Maybe they just want to see the scores at the end of every quarter in a Mavs game? Maybe they want to know what show is playing right now on AXS TV? No one expects them to like, comment or share any of this. It's just an information source. And can I just say that its really weird when Mavs end of quarter scores show up out of order? That's how smart the algorithm is.
It's not like pages have carte blanche to assault people with posts. People know their own tolerance for what they consider to be spam better than any algorithm does. It is incumbent upon the brand not to abuse the relationship and cause the person to unlike us. Doesn't FB realize that is far easier for a user to opt-out of a feed by unliking a brand/person/page that has done a poor job of communication than it is to mess with all the account settings or for them to try to tweak their algorithm all the time to try to guess what people want?
Gathering information via your social network isn't necessarily always helpful:
FB has a couple of other serious issues that impact its desire to be a source for "information that is most interesting to [users]". Because FB has become such a store of personal information, we have become very protective of our profiles. I don't know the percentage of individuals posts on FB that are available to the general public, but it can't be very high. We show our posts and see the posts only of our extended network. While that network may get you close to Kevin Bacon, it's not going to let you use FB as a primary information source.
Why? Because you can't gain the value of all those posts outside of your network. They are closed off to you. Yes you can search on Bing which actually does a good job of integrating your own social network, but it still doesn't take you out to the rest of the social world and all the insights and information that it has to offer like Twitter, Tumblr and specialized sites do. Some of the best sources of current information are searches on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram (the irony), and of course relevant websites.
If you want to see what every one is saying about the election, you have to go outside of FB. So by default you are not going to use your newsfeed as a primary source of information. It's more like the township newspaper. You get the basic local stuff and updates, but it can't be a comprehensive source.
It's trying to overly-complicate it's core brand and mission:
“I also think that FB is making a big mistake by trying to play games with their original mission of connecting the world. FB is a fascinating destination that is an amazing alternative to boredom which excels in its SIMPLICITY. One of the threats in any business is that you outsmart yourself. FB has to be careful of just that.”