Once again Facebook has outraged its user base with the result being another round of calls for worldwide boycotts. Listening to users is not a Facebook principle. Run a search on “Facebook boycotts” and you’ll find some going back to 2006.
Clearly, beta testing is not done before rolling out any new functionality or user interface changes. It’s absurd to call Facebook a “social networking” web site when in reality, it is anything but social or community oriented. It’s an advertising medium first and foremost. Its users are pawns.
Last month I wrote about how Facebook removes content without your permission from the “Info” you enter into your personal profile. Essentially, if you have something in your own profile they feel cannot be used to create a Community Page, they won’t permit you to keep your content on their web property. Without any warning, millions of Facebook users signed in to find their profiles were mucked up. Their content had been turned into links. Phrases were turned into links to Community Pages, whether it had any logic to it or not. I removed the phrase, “I’m very proud of her”, from my profile because I didn’t choose to be the owner of a Wiki called “I’m very proud of her”. Because Facebook manipulates our content to be used how they want it, I censored myself.
That we are forced to censor ourselves on a social web site should make everyone stop and think about what this means.
Bloggers and news sites have been writing about privacy issues . Facebook demonstrates a corporate arrogance and an utter refusal to consider the people who use Facebook. One wonders at a business model that is based on revenue generation and yet chases away the traffic at the same time.
Today, you don’t need to be accepted by anyone as a Facebook “friend” to be able to send them messages. This means anybody can be writing to anybody as long as they are Facebook members. Acceptance of “friends” doesn’t matter. Most of your profiles were made public, suddenly and without warning, forcing members to change their settings to limit what the world can read about them. Your “status” content is used god knows where. I see comments from people I know showing up on a CNN feed, as well as folks I don’t know. Why CNN needs Facebook comments is something I don’t yet understand.
Info Head Games
At first, I removed most of the information I had in my profile because I was miffed. Then, I decided to play head games with Facebook by finding ways to work around their programming that forces our words and phrases into links that are then turned into their Community/Wiki pages.
They have added a new process to entering content into your personal profile by suggesting the words they want you to use. So for example, if I wanted to put in “gardening” for my “Interests” it looks like this:
When you choose a word they want you to choose, you’ll know it because you get an avatar from the page it goes to. If you use words or phrases that are not Community Pages/Wikis (yet), you will see the funky triangle in the dull gray box.
When you click on the word “Gardening” next to their image, you are taken to their Community Page. Suddenly you’re about to be introduced to 724,275 (as of this writing) Facebook users you never knew. Try clicking on their profile picture and guess what? Facebook takes you directly to their personal profile page and information that USED TO BE PRIVATE.
I used their drop down suggestions as my clue for what I could put into my Info content that they couldn’t play with (yet). Sentences, for example, work. They are not pretty but you own the content, not Facebook.
For TV shows, my choices are all Community Pages. However, I discovered that if I strung them together and separated the words with commas, Facebook can’t use them.
May 31 is one of the days being called for a global boycott. News reports claim members, including well known people, have already left Facebook in reaction to this user abuse. The entire usability industry can use Facebook as an example of what not to do. So far, nothing seems to be making Facebook budge. All their meetings and feedback from them is not unlike the Three Stooges show we’re being subjected to with regards to the BP oil spill. There’s a severe lack of responsibility and care for human beings in both of these situations.
So, how will you respond to this madness? Have you had enough of Internet privacy abuses by sites like Google and Facebook?
Has social networking gone too far?