Friday, January 29, 2010

Ten things I hate about you, Facebook

I'm not a listy fella, but you have earned this top ten, my dear. I'll try, as much as possible, to keep it professional rather than personal, not that you'd notice the subtle distinction, so no whines from me about white mystery eggs or bunches of flowers or hugs or pirate loot or vampires or zombies or any of the rest of that codswallop.

 1. Privacy

It is mine. Not yours. In my admittedly simple little way of thinking, allow me to repeat: my stuff is mine, not yours.
This is what you led me to believe when first I started with you. It was mid 2007, although it now feels like a decade or more (we'll get to that though). Back then your privacy policy seemed absolute (even though you still were hazy about hosting my pics).
Founder (?) Mark Zuckerberg called privacy 'the vector around which Facebook is built' just two years ago. But today he says 'Doing a privacy change for 350 million users is not the kind of thing that a lot of companies would do. But we viewed that as a really important thing, to always keep a beginner's mind and what would we do if we were starting the company now and we decided that these would be the social norms now and we just went for it.'

Anybody else smell horseshite? Most people have no idea how compromised their privacy is, because the format is so bubbly and new still, and they're too busy with white mystery eggs or bunches of flowers or hugs or pirate loot or vampires or zombies or fending off their mother as their friend or whatever. But when they do eventually wake up they'll be pissed off that it's still 1984. And as for companies? If you tell me one truth about my data today and a different truth tomorrow, I shall judge you to be inconsistent and therefore not a reliable partner or medium.

2. Opt outs

Does EVERY thing I do on here need to be relayed to everyone all the time?? My list of people (they're not all friends, you assumptive fool) does not need to be spammed about some pissy little app I downloaded to see how many words there are in my average update. And I think a little bit less of them when you tell me that 'Marty McGillacuddy is finding out what colour knickers her great great great grand aunt Mary wore in pre-Famine Ireland and thinks you should find out too!' Spam is spam, you info-hogging obsessive. Here's the deal: I will refrain from actually saying something important to someone I know as a friend on Facebook, wishing their kid nephew good luck with his chemo, for instance, and you will refrain from spamming my inbox 45 times with 45 comments from 45 other people I don't know wishing my friend's nephew the same thing. Yes I know there's a technical opt-out in Settings, but it's a bit of a nuke response isn't it? Let me opt in if I want to follow a thread, you voracious fucker, or do you honestly think we're just one big hillbilly family?

3. Lack of clear-cut distinction between professional and personal use. 

I've alluded to Profiles, Pages and Groups before.

To sum it up neatly: if you're a person, set up a profile and your friends can join, whereas if you're a non-human (event, product, cyborg) set up a page and people can become fans. Or if you want to be a Group with lots of interaction then set one up and people can become Members. But don't ever set up a Profile and then decide you want to be a thing instead of a person because Facebook might delete all your contacts so what you should do is set up a Page instead unless you're going to be a real chatterbox and then a Group is better oh oh and too also you may be able to swop your old Profile for a Page if you use FBML and-

SHADDAP! Shut. The. Fuck. Up. You big blue morass of uncertain-of-everything-except-we-know-we-want-all-your-dataz maniac! You want to be Linkedin. You want to be Twitter, and email, and Flickr and everything else too. A great big online Airbus for business and economy classes where everyone's giddier than Aunt Mabel going to Benidorm in 1967.

Great. Just one problem.

They all look the same.

4. Designed by fascists

God bless Bebo. I loved it for its unpredictability. Long before C4 it redefined skins. Long after Rizla, admittedly, but that is another discussion.
Blogs, websites, MySpace... even a Twitter profile page ffs will let me do something to own it. Facebook has The Big Blue Book of Blue. Give you the blues, does it reader? It gives me the blue shits, frankly.
Obviously the behind-the-curtain bit has given FB a superb functionality. People love how they can connect with each other online using it as a big Bebo. It sucks everybody else's capabilities and repackages them as its own. It is very good at what it does. But Christ Almighty does it have to be so geometrically boring and colour-adverse? It is banal with a capital anal. If ever a web application needed the Sony Bravia makeover, this monochromatic monster is first in line. When I googled Profiles, Pages and Groups guess how many results came up. Go on.
That's right. Two hundred and seventy seven million. That to me smacks of nothing so much as indecisiveness. End of.

5. Clunky target marketing

Facebook has 350 million+ users. Sounds like a lot. And you only pay for the ads when they click on them! But spread it about all over the world and it gets diluted. Break your target down further, say to guys, and that cuts things by over 50%. But if you want guys who care about a six pack that's a smaller segment again. You absolutely need to be geographically accurate with your pitch or you are for sure wasting your money. You probably won't be able to buy relevant keywords you'd like. And even if you could? Nobody cares, in my humble opinion. They're there to send their friends white mystery eggs or bunches of flowers or hugs or pirate loot or vampires or zombies or fend off their mother as their friend. Or if they're a guy check out their girlfriend's girlfriends. They sure as hell have no interest in leaving the site and all the goss to go Build a City and Conquer Neighbouring Armies, buddy. Are you on the right page? Social media is not search, and people being social, porniness aside, are not searching for whatever those little ads are selling. Besides which...

6. Are advertisers being shafted by click fraud?

Techcrunch would suggest that you're fannying about, Facebook. Your 2009 revenue targets were $550 million, a bit of a steep jump from 2008's $280m. Some advertisers:

  • Facebook is still reporting 20% more clicks than I actually get. This is bullshit. If I were at least getting bot traffic or something that would be one thing, but right now Facebook is simply stealing 20% of clicks that I paid for, which adds up to thousands of dollars. Someone should threaten legal action, this is straight up fraud on Facebook’s part.
  • FB click fraud update: ratio is now EXACTLY 10:1. 10 clicks reported on FB, 1 click on prosper. No, this wasnt on a small scale either. Were talking 1000’s of clicks. Have fun facebook. Im checking out till you can fix this shit.
  • I’m targeting small, specific demos, Facebook reports exactly twice as many clicks as hit my LP. Facebook is stealing our money, fuck this shit.
Techcrunch goes on to say
These aren’t the standard click fraud complaints that advertisers have leveled against search engines for years. In those cases, bots are racking up the fake clicks, which obviously never convert to any sort of purchase or other action. But at least the advertisers see the clicks.

In this case advertisers are saying that Facebook is recording and charging for clicks that don’t exist at all, even from bots. Their tracking software shows one set of numbers, which is 20% – 100% lower than what Facebook is recording.

According to the WickedFire posts Facebook isn’t officially acknowledging the problem or giving any refunds so far. But they are asking some advertisers to send in logs to show the discrepancy. So far, advertisers who go to the trouble to do this aren’t getting the response they wanted: “I was asked to send in my logs so I spent over an hour compiling logs over the time period in question, and they replied with their fucking scripted bullshit. I was sooo fucking pissed, since I took the time to do that and they churn out a 2 second response.”

Happy clickmas!

7. News feed v Live feed

Oh you what? Some months back when Facebook eventually noticed the twerrier nipping at its ankles it changed its feed from a small bore Wavin into a Russian transcontinental monster pipe inside which James Bond would be proud to take an Aston Martin. So that they could wash away the 140 character irrelevance of Twitter presumably. For this massive pointlessness and utter lack of understanding of who users wanted them to be I am just going to link you to two pages on the platform itself. Clueless Facebookers #1 and Clueless Facebookers #2.

8. That fucking demented knock knock sound when someone wants to chat.

This may seem petty but I am reminded that I HATE your chat function EVERY TIME somebody gives that hollowed-out marmoset skull sound. (On reflection no, this isn't petty at all.) Any other company in the world would listen, especially one as successful as you. They'd watch the competition, learn and apply those learnings. Their customers would love them more because of it.
Do not get me wrong, I can be quite critical of a lot of what Google is about, but their gmail is a lesson in streamlined simplicity. Take just the chat function. It gives me settings that allow me to have a personal byline message, be invisible, say I'm busy etc etc. I can break the chat box out of the home page (functional brilliance), have my pic as part of it and save conversations. It will allow me to send a message even when the other person is not online. And most importantly it does not give me your marmoset skull sound effects. Such is my loathing of this feature of yours that I tend to forget that I know it exists at all. A kind of security cloaking device. Only reason it appears in this list is that I happened to have the dreaded page open just now and someone foolishly came a knock-knock marmoset knockin'.
If I needed a kidney, and Facebook chat was the only way the donor could reach me, I'd probably take it, but the very next kidney that came along I'd swop that fucker right out. Even if it was only for a little marmoset substitute.

9. The walled garden myth

If you were a garden there might be something nice to see. You're a prison yard and I'm wearing that poxy blue jumpsuit. You're Hotel California. I'm Rapunzel. You're eTender reminders from the government. I wish I could quit you.
But if I delete my account you'll keep my data, my private letters, my pictures and all the rest of it. If I migrate my content you'll delete my account. Have you never even heard of the majesty that is Sting?* If you love someone, set them free. If they come back to you they deserve everything they get, the triple-galvanised idiots. Wanna know where they get all the zombies for that stupid game? They're here, 40,000 of them almost, stumbling around trying to find an exit that doesn't lead back into Blue Hell.

10. Don't pretend to care.

I don't want to know how many friends I share with him.
I don't want to help her find her friends.
I don't care that I haven't spoken to him in that long.
I don't want to find people from my phone book.
I don't want to find friends from school or uni or the office.

You don't care about any of that. Don't pretend you do. You just want my info, my stats and my behavioural graph for your master plan, whatever this year's business model is. Data is money, we're idiots and you're trying to double your numbers in 2010. 700 million users. The vast majority of us missing the point.

Will it ever hit home for more than a few percent? I'm not at all sure that it will. This is no Bebo. As far as a success story business, you're pretty much perfect, Facebook.

That's probably the most annoying thing of all.

* A non-literal witticism


1 comment:

  1. Whinge whinge whinge whinge whinge whinge whinge whinge whinge. Every heard of Hide? I wish the real world came with a Hide button. I wish I could click hide and then get the choice to hide the topic or the person. Or the person AND the topic.

    Face it Nicky, Facebook has chewed your flesh and made you one of us, ONE OF US, ONE OF US! (is that 420 characters? ok...)