Dear Facebook Users,
Sure, Facebook has faced user revolts in the past — practically every major overhaul to the platform has met with user backlash — but this time apparently, it’s just too much.
Facebook’s most recent changes, the Timeline and the launch of the new Open Graph API, are the most radical yet. It’s not just about changing the way the News Feed works or the addition of the real-time Ticker. These updates are going to make the content that you share with others more accessible than ever before.
We hear you. The new Timeline is beautiful for sure, but it’s also kind of creepy. People that I have friended over the years now have an easy way to access my earliest college-era posts, photos and interactions. That goes for you, too. Once the new Timeline is rolled out to the masses, your friends will be able to peruse your digital life, look at the people you dated, see the friends you’ve made and check out the jobs you’ve held. They’ll also have access to your questionable taste in music (Nickelback, really?), movies and TV shows. They’ll also know how much you like to read TMZ during work hours.
Like we said, it’s kind of creepy.
In fact, it’s so creepy that some of you say that you’ll quit Facebook if the Timeline other new features can’t be turned off. After all, not only are Facebook’s most recent changes massive, they are taking place at a time when real competition exists. Who needs Facebook when Google+ is around? Hey, Google+ even has CityVille!
Quitting Facebook in 2011 is like quitting MySpace in 2008. It’s the cool thing to do. The difference, however, is that you aren’t going to quit Facebook.
Quitting Facebook: All Talk, No Action
Sure, it’s easy to say you’ll quit Facebook. Even without the most recent changes, its sheer size and near-ubiquity is enough to make the more paranoid amongst us want to opt-out. After all, the world existed for billions of years before Facebook; certainly life would continue to be just fine without it.
This is true. Still, quitting Facebook is much more difficult than it sounds. After all, what happens when someone sends you a link to a photo, video or conversation, but requires a Facebook login to see? Facebook is unique in its broad social reach. Unlike earlier social networks like LiveJournal, Friendster or MySpace, Facebook isn’t just for younger users. Despite getting its start on college campuses, Facebook is now just as popular amongst adolescents as it is with Baby Boomers.
That broad social reach means cutting the service out of your life is easier said than done. Sure, it’s fun to say “I’ll delete my account and never log in again,” but as soon my cousin posts photos of her new baby and makes those photos only visible on Facebook… well, that kind of kills my resolve.
It’s more than just our social ties that keep us connected to Facebook. Many apps and services are reliant on the network too. When Spotify integrated itself with Facebook last week, the popular streaming music service also added a new requirement for new sign-ups: Facebook membership. We can argue whether that approach is right or wrong, but Facebook as a login identity is something that is only going to increase with time, not decrease.
Don’t Worry, You’ll Adjust
Part of the reason that Facebook changes create such a large, loud reaction from users is because fundamentally, we don’t like change. Still, with enough time, changes that users hate become features users can’t live without.
Look at the News Feed. When it was first released, Facebook users were vocally opposed to the move,/a>. Now many of those same users are upset with the most recent News Feed changes because of the impact it has on their daily routine. Likewise, the ability to play games on Facebook was derided by many, but hundreds of millions of users now play Zynga’s games every single day.
“So yes, you will hate the new Facebook profile when it launches in the coming weeks. Then, like me, you’ll realize that Facebook has unleashed something so remarkable that you didn’t even recognize it at first: A meaningful social network. And like any other groundbreaking technology — the PC, the smartphone, the iPad — you’ll wonder why life wasn’t always this way, and how you got by without it.”
It’s important to point out that the really creepy aspects of Timeline and the other new Open Graph app features can be tuned to better represent user needs. Uncomfortable with the amount of information that is visible to your friends? Remove entries. Plus, the new Facebook Subscribe button means that you can unfriend acquaintances while still allowing those individuals to follow your public updates. In the context of the new Timeline and auto-sharing features, the move from “friend” to “subscribe” for certain types of interactions makes a lot of sense.
Yes, Facebook is changing and not all of those changes are going to be improvements. But as long as the online social graph is centered around a Facebook-led ecosystem, threats to quit the service are just that — threats.
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
No, You Aren't Going to Quit Facebook - by Christina Warren