Facebook Doesn't Care About Its Powerusers

March 27, 2008

in Social Networking

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.

The Backstory
I joined Facebook in the Spring of 2004, which means I am coming up on my 4th year as a dedicated active member. I got in early like most of the Ivy League/Top Tier students because Facebook only catered to this audience at the time. Being an MIT student, I was familiar with the paper Face Book issued to Freshmen every year at our school. Back then, TheFacebook.com literally was an e-version of that, give or take a few more fields of information. I could view everybody’s business, so long as they were on the MIT network. I was a little frustrated that I couldn’t easily connect to my friends at Harvard because there were serious walled gardens in place. Over the years things opened up, and now I barely recognize the Facebook I used to know.

Forcing Powerusers to Power….Use

These days, I find myself wondering who is Facebook catering to whenever they release a new feature. For example, the granular Privacy Options released last week are almost useless to me. This feature is great….if you have only 20 friends on Facebook. Why would I want to sift through my hundreds of Facebook friends and put them all on different lists so I can then control my privacy levels?

I have a couple friends who literally have over 1500 friends on Facebook, and unlike the Scoble’s of the world, they actually know these people. What are my friends going to do with this new feature? Sit around sorting their 1500+ friends into lists? Seriously? If we truly wanted to manage our privacy our options are: categorize hundreds of friends (not good for user, will take forever),  pare down our information and proactivity on the site (not good for Facebook), or delete our accounts (not good for Facebook). 

Years ago, I listed my dorm, room number, address, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, on top of other generic meta information on my facebook profile.  Today?  The juiciest information is my work history.  For various reasons, I don’t trust putting all my information on Facebook. I have personally discovered security breaches (I still do, as do others) so I don’t trust the site to hold my info under lock and key. Even if I trusted Facebook’s security, the controversial release of Beacon and NewsFeed has me wondering how much does Facebook actually care about its users? Does Facebook understand their userbase, and the diverse needs and expectations among them?
 
Feeling The Love
I don’t feel the love, Facebook. I feel like you’ve sold my user experience out, just to get a quick high off of a new user account. Newsflash: new booties are having a hard time figuring you out. People don’t ‘get’ why you are useful, the granular privacy levels are only awesome if you understand what should be hidden and why. While extended privacy levels are great, they will not keep new users if users don’t understand the importance and threat to privacy established on your site.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch
Facebook is silently rolling out the People You May Know feature. I wondered why they hadn’t announced it on their blog yet, but I think I know why: they’re tweaking the feature. I’ve noticed a significant change in the pool  of people being pulled, as well as the display on my homepage within the last 24 hours, so I’ll wait until it looks as though they’re done before I attack.

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