Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Devaluation of Facebook

It wasn’t so long ago that Facebook was a new and exciting phenomenon. It was a place where you could socially interact with family members, friends, and colleagues; post your vacation pictures; and amuse each other with witty status updates.

The Facebook of today is different. It is a business, a public company with the goal of making you confront advertising everywhere you turn.

With ever-present concerns of privacy abuse, the clunking social monstrosity that we, the people of the world, have co-created with our freely submitted user contributions is every day becoming less of a fun place to hang out.

Advertising Feed

Let’s start with the News Feed. Instead of seeing updates from people I know and care about, I witness an ongoing, shameless presentation of commercials and promotions from newspapers, companies, and causes, all of which I innocently “liked” in the past. I don’t know if it is possible to “unlike” something (I certainly don’t see this option). Basically by clicking on “like” I told these organizations: “Feel free to bombard me with your advertising.”

The News Feed is organized by a secret algorithm known only to Facebook, one that is guarded as closely as the recipe for Coca Cola. It doesn’t matter if I choose to sort the feed by “Most Recent” or by “Top Stories,” the real gems, if there are gems among the hundreds of posts, are hidden far below. I feel like I must scroll down every day to make sure there is nothing of importance that I may have missed.

Facebook Friends, I can’t see what you’re posting amidst all the clutter!

Where is everybody?

Speaking of friends, where has everyone gone? It seems that in the early days, everyone was in a hurry to establish a Facebook presence. In April, Facebook topped 900 million users worldwide, but how many of those users are actually active?

Many of my Facebook Friends have let their accounts go dormant. When I visit their pages to wish them a ‘Happy Birthday’ I discover there’s been no activity since the previous year. Other friends have closed their accounts altogether.

Facebook today is a business, one that bases itself on advertising. The more companies Facebook buys with the cash it raised in its IPO, the more that its advertising will be in-your-face and targeted.

Let’s face it - Facebook isn’t as fun as it used to be.

What do you think? Has Facebook outlived its welcome in our virtual homes?


  1. Hi Ellis - I think you could tame Facebook. Two suggestions: 1) Install Adblock Plus (it's a browser extension which replaces paid advertisements with blank space) and 2) when you move your mouse over any post there's a little box with a down arrow ... click on that and choose an option to reduce or end posts from that poster (different options depending on whether it's a "friend" or a "like")

    Of course the issue of who among your friends posts and who doesn't still exists - the ones (like me) without a life are the ones who post. The interesting people are off doing interesting stuff, not posting on FB.

    And finally ... remember that if a service is offered to you free, then you are what is being sold. You are the product. That also means that you have no obligation whatsoever to look at their clutter.

    And on a completely different note - did you catch any good Fourth of July fireworks displays in Israel? -grin-

    Your cousin in the San Gabriel Valley

  2. Yes, there are ways to tame Facebook, but in many cases, Facebook is working to tame you. Facebook exerts an unhealthy control over your life. Even if you don't have a life, you assume that some of your friends do have a life and they're spending some time on Facebook posting about it. You check just to see if your friends have something worthwhile to say, something that you shouldn't miss. If you cut down on your Facebook use, refusing to look at the clutter, you run the risk of missing something important.

    There are dangers to giving up your Facebook addiction.