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"You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies."
July 20, 2010 4:23 PM   Subscribe

"Facebook is expected to announce that it has reached the 500 million user mark this week. That's half a billion people in just six years." "...the most visited site on the Internet, may also be the most despised: A new poll says the site scored 64 on a 100-point scale, which 'puts Facebook in the bottom 5 percent' of private sector companies 'and in the same range as airlines and cable companies, two perennially low-scoring industries with terrible customer satisfaction,' according to results of a survey [PDF] released today. *

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be interviewed by Diane Sawyer Wednesday on ABC. The last time he granted a high-profile interview was with Leslie Stahl on '60 Minutes' in 2008.
posted by ericb (97 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
'Social Network' ("You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.") trailer.

'Social Network' Slams Facebook CEO.
posted by ericb at 4:25 PM on July 20, 2010


Facebook's customers are not who you think they are.
posted by swift at 4:25 PM on July 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


10 Ways Facebook Can Ruin Your Life.
posted by ericb at 4:26 PM on July 20, 2010


"Here's the infamous video of [Zuckerberg's] nervous breakdown at the D8 Conference set to [Radiohead's 'Creep,' the track used for the 'Social Network' trailer]."
posted by ericb at 4:31 PM on July 20, 2010


500 million user + awful customer satisfaction = a huge business opportunity for some other company to do better. And Zuckerberg is the clear and obvious reason people are unhappy. Facebook will be a footnote in a few years.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:31 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Five hundred million? I am skeptical.
posted by dabug at 4:39 PM on July 20, 2010


More recent trailer for the film 'Social Network.'
posted by ericb at 4:39 PM on July 20, 2010


Mark Zuckerberg's lawyer is "unsure" if he signed a contract that would give another man 84% ownership of Facebook. That would be ironic since Zuckerberg allegedly copied the idea for Facebook from another group of Harvard students.
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:40 PM on July 20, 2010


Five hundred million? I am skeptical.

I would be surprised if there were 100 million active users (used it within the month), and more like 20 million people who use it daily.

What's the Metafilter total user to monthly visitor to daily visitor ratio? I bet the ratio is scale-invariant and basically holds up to Facebook numbers.
posted by geoff. at 4:42 PM on July 20, 2010


Five hundred million? I am skeptical.

I'm sure once you weed out inactive accounts, abandoned accounts, sock puppets, everyone's pets, dating site advertising, spambots, Internet stalkers, pedophiles posing as 12 year-old girls, and a horde of troll accounts, the number would look a little more realistic.
posted by Avelwood at 4:49 PM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Are they counting "disabled" accounts? You can't delete your account, just "permanently disable" it, so I wonder if that's inflating their numbers because technically the account does still exist.

I suppose Metafilter does this too but I don't think Metafilter is skeevy so whatever.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:53 PM on July 20, 2010


None of the interesting data from the survey is available without paying for it, unfortunately. I'd be curious to know where the focal points of dissatisfaction are. Is it user experience? Is it privacy? Is it general disillusionment with the company?

I think it's a bit disingenuous to say that Facebook will be a footnote in a few years. While they may not have 500 million active users, that number is easily tens—if not hundreds—of millions. Then again, I suppose there's AOL to point to as the counterexample.
posted by Brak at 4:53 PM on July 20, 2010


Yes, you can delete your account. I think this link should still work.
posted by Theloupgarou at 5:00 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am sorta regretting having deleted my FB account just because I really, really want to see what this Cow Clicker game is all about.
posted by avocet at 5:04 PM on July 20, 2010


"Facebook at 64 and MySpace at 63"

Ha ha, SUCK IT TOM!

But seriously, yeah. What an opportunity. Why isn't there a VC competitor already gaining traction? It doesn't make sense.
posted by cavalier at 5:09 PM on July 20, 2010


As swift pointed out, Facebook users are not the customers. Advertisers are the customers and from everything I've read they are absolutely wetting themselves with the amount of data available to research and target campaigns.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:13 PM on July 20, 2010


I guess I must be in the minority, but I have never, not even a single time, clicked on an ad that facebook has suggested to me. They look like the banner sidebar ads on seedy torrent sites.

I don't use it for any of the weird games that my friends play, and I block all those lame applications.

I have the account locked down so that only my friends can see my info and pictures, and I don't show up in searches.

I guess I'm using it wrong, because it's not ruining my life, getting me fired or arrested, or anything else bad.
posted by King Bee at 5:16 PM on July 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Facebook just reminds me how much better it is to give people a chance to miss you...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:16 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why isn't there a VC competitor already gaining traction? It doesn't make sense.

Because the truth is that there isn't an opportunity out there. And people will complain til they're blue in the face about it, but people actually love Facebook, because it provides a services that literally cannot be matched by any competitor. Eventually, it's possible that it could get toppled, but the whole point of Facebook is that everyone is on it, and because of network effects, it'll be extremely difficult to gain any traction whatsoever.

It gets a bad rap because of the nature of the business its in. But very few people actual dislike it enough to change any of the behavior. A lot of people make a lot of noise about how terrible the privacy is, but a vast majority of people don't believe that or care.

Also, imagine that you're a VC and someone tells you that they've got the idea for 'The Next Facebook!' or 'Facebook meets Service X'.

I imagine that any VC who buys into that pitch isn't going to keep their job for a week.
posted by graphnerd at 5:23 PM on July 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


I guess I must be in the minority, but I have never, not even a single time, clicked on an ad that facebook has suggested to me. They look like the banner sidebar ads on seedy torrent sites.

First of all, everyone will tell you the same thing.

Second of all, you don't have to click on an ad for it to affect you.

Third of all, advertisers don't want your eyeballs on Facebook. They want your data (including behavior). And they get it.

And finally: Facebook started as something for college kids. Then it grew outward in both (age) directions to people who wanted to be college kids (again or for the first time). Historically, college kids don't want anything to do with people who want to be college kids. I bet right now one college student is turning to another and saying something like "man, this site was so cool when I was in high school but it's just lame now". And then goodbye Facebook.
posted by DU at 5:24 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


To be fair to Facebook, its users are also easily duped by ReadWriteWeb
posted by mkb at 5:24 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see demos on who actually clicks facebook ads. It's not me, that's for sure.
posted by codacorolla at 5:25 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


As swift pointed out, Facebook users are not the customers. Advertisers are the customers and from everything I've read they are absolutely wetting themselves with the amount of data available to research and target campaigns.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:13 PM on July 20 [+] [!]


Do you mean exactly like every Google property?
posted by graphnerd at 5:26 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


...because it provides a services that literally cannot be matched by any competitor.

You mean other than the internet, right? Facebook is just the internet, poorly reimplemented on private servers that actively hate you. There is nothing (good) on Facebook that doesn't already exist on the real internet. And furthermore, we already proved it doesn't scale when AOL died.
posted by DU at 5:27 PM on July 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


What I hate most about Facebook is that, for example, when I'm playing the hypothetical Fart Counting Game, where a Silverlight (like, wtf?) app takes ten minutes to load and then you basically click your mouse on a bunch of farts, everyone knows I'm playing the fart counting game. Sitting on a social network, isolating myself by counting farts in a cordoned-off area, until everyone gets the notification that "James just counted three thousand farts! Can you beat his high score?" And I'm like, jesus, it's bad enough that I'm playing this stupid fucking game, don't go telling everyone about it!
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:28 PM on July 20, 2010 [15 favorites]



Facebook reports that 50% of their accounts get a login everyday. And 70% of accounts access some application each month. So, while many of the 500 million accounts could be spam or fake, there are not too many dead or inactive accounts.

Stats (slightly out of date) from: http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics .
posted by a.dog at 5:28 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Five hundred million? I am skeptical.

I'm not. Everybody and their grandma is on Facebook now. That's one of the reasons it's so creepy.
posted by blucevalo at 5:29 PM on July 20, 2010


As a customer of Facebook, I'm pretty satisfied - for certain things, their ads perform really amazingly well. You over there playing Farmville? You're the product.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 5:30 PM on July 20, 2010


I have vowed to never join Facebook. No matter how many people send me invites, I will not be swayed. It's easy for me though because I'm a loner, Metafilter, a rebel.
posted by wherever, whatever at 5:33 PM on July 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


two perennially low-scoring industries with terrible customer satisfaction

Please understand that the user is not the customer. The advertiser is the customer. You are the product!
posted by yoyoceramic at 5:35 PM on July 20, 2010


The Five Stages of Facebook Grief, or, "The more you use Facebook, the less usable it becomes."
1. Confusion
2. Discovery
3. Utility
4. Embarrassment
5. Withdrawal
I've been advocating to my Facebook-addicted friends that they skip to stage five as quickly as possible.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:36 PM on July 20, 2010


Do you mean exactly like every Google property?

Yes, along with every broadcast television network. And it would be equally wrong to refer to television viewers as customers of the networks.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:37 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


You mean other than the internet, right? Facebook is just the internet, poorly reimplemented on private servers that actively hate you. There is nothing (good) on Facebook that doesn't already exist on the real internet. And furthermore, we already proved it doesn't scale when AOL died.

I meant to say, cannot be matched easily or anytime soon. The actual user base and the data involved are not replicated anywhere on the internet, and cannot be until half a billion (give or take a few hundred million) all decide to instantly change their behavior together.

Not that it won't ever happen, but that inertia will be ridiculously hard to overcome. And AIM isn't anywhere comparable, because it had nowhere near the same userbase, had no proprietary information, and never had an actual plan to make money.

And by the way, "actively hate you"? Really?

You can't possibly say that that kind of statement isn't irrational and over the top.
posted by graphnerd at 5:37 PM on July 20, 2010


I meant to say, cannot be matched easily or anytime soon. The actual user base and the data involved are not replicated anywhere on the internet...

Exactly what Facebook feature is it you have been unable to find on the internet?

And by the way, "actively hate you"? Really?

Mutating privacy settings? Impossible to figure out UI? Giving away your data to anyone who asks?
posted by DU at 5:42 PM on July 20, 2010


I'm really excited for The Social Network. I hope it's the big mass-media thing that convinces people that Facebook isn't the godhead state of the internet, and that better things can (and do) exist. The only problem is that I can't easily conceive of something that's both open and popular. People liked being locked into Facebook because it's easy. It doesn't even give you the limited and poorly implemented HTML of MySpace. It does all the work for you and doesn't take anything in return (at least not anything noticable).
posted by codacorolla at 5:45 PM on July 20, 2010


DU: much like the users are a crop for advertisers, they're also the selling point for other users. I can use email, and post a blog, and do any number of things on another site, but I can't be connected to my friends doing it. Facebook sells its users in more than one way.
posted by codacorolla at 5:46 PM on July 20, 2010


DU I think you're either purposefully being obtuse or you don't really understand how Facebook works. The whole point is that everybody is on it, so your actions and messages can include everyone you know with only a single action. If Facebook were to disappear today, we'd go back to the mismash of communication methods whereby if I wanted to ask a number of acquaintances to come to my party I would have to send out emails to some, wait for some to come online and chat with them on AIM, visit some forums and leave a PM for others, catch some on MSN, others on Yahoo, others on Skype, and call a few others on the phone, etc. Sure, it is theoretically possible to achieve everything that Facebook offers in other ways, just like it's also possible to frame a house with a screwdriver. (And I'm a person that does not even have a Facebook account.)
posted by Rhomboid at 5:49 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't be connected to my friends doing it.

Define "connected" in a way that includes Facebook but does not include email, RSS, twitter and IM.
posted by DU at 5:49 PM on July 20, 2010


Exactly what Facebook feature is it you have been unable to find on the internet?

The userbase and the data that they have about myself and virtually everyone I know can't be found elsewhere on the internet. Those data, like it or not, constitute a service that simply isn't available anywhere else.

As far as the privacy changing, that's been unfortunate but necessary for them to evolve as a business. I honestly don't think people would be so upset about it if they were actually less transparent with their changes.

I guess that the UI is a matter of opinion, as I've personally never had an issue with it. But I'm willing to believe that I'm wrong about that.

Either way, you could easily make a defensible argument that it's a poorly run company, inept even. I might disagree with you on that, but it's an entirely different thing to say that it 'actively hates you'. That's just a hysterical thing to say.

Serious question about your last issue: to what are you referring? Who, exactly are they giving away data to?
posted by graphnerd at 5:52 PM on July 20, 2010


While I'm excited for The Social Network, I'm quite a bit more excited for The Other Social Network.
posted by incessant at 5:54 PM on July 20, 2010


As far as the privacy changing, that's been unfortunate but necessary for them to evolve as a business.

Wow. OK.
posted by DU at 5:56 PM on July 20, 2010


Okay, so Facebook is skeevy and Zuckerberg is a douche. We can all agree on these things. But really, what would you have them do? End-users of Facebook demonstrably will not pay anything for the services Facebook provides, which require lots of expensive infrastructure and bandwidth to deliver. In the absence of any revenue stream from end consumers of the service, I don't see that Facebook has any choice but to package and sell fine-grained user data to advertisers. Really, presupposing that people are not going to flock to ad-hoc peer-to-peer social networking services like Diaspora, which seems like a stretch to me, how should centralized services like Facebook operate, if not by monetizing their non-paying userbases?
posted by killdevil at 5:57 PM on July 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Really, presupposing that people are not going to flock to ad-hoc peer-to-peer social networking services like Diaspora, which seems like a stretch to me, how should centralized services like Facebook operate, if not by monetizing their non-paying userbases?

This.
posted by graphnerd at 5:59 PM on July 20, 2010


The whole point is that everybody is on it, so your actions and messages can include everyone you know with only a single action.

I think this is true only for people who were college-age or younger when FB started, a group which I think is disproportionately represented on MetaFilter. For older folks (I'm 38) it's nothing like this; the proportion of people I know who are FB friends with me is pretty small. Every once in a while I still get a friend request, but the rate has slowed a lot. If I want to arrange something with friends, we do it by e-mail, not Facebook; I receive maybe 50 e-mails a day, and maybe 2 FB messages. I don't think I'm atypical of my age group in this respect.
posted by escabeche at 6:03 PM on July 20, 2010



Define "connected" in a way that includes Facebook but does not include email, RSS, twitter and IM.


seriously, DU, the kids are not going to get off your lawn and you're just proving you don't get it. You are clearly not their demographic but guess what....a vast chunk of admittedly stupit humanity is (myself included).
posted by spicynuts at 6:03 PM on July 20, 2010



Define "connected" in a way that includes Facebook but does not include email, RSS, twitter and IM.

There's no way to do it to your satisfaction because you will keep moving or ignoring the goalposts until you win the Obtuseness World Series of Calvinball or whatever it is you're playing at.

Facebook is one communication medium to manage. Email,RSS, skype, IM... fuck that.

And yeah, facebook collects data on me and sells it. Good for them. Every other interaction with every other corporation or business does the same thing and has for as long as I can remember. If anyone puts something on Facebook (or the internet at large) that they didn't want seen, then they are very stupid indeed. But you don't need facebook for that.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:03 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes, along with every broadcast television network. And it would be equally wrong to refer to television viewers as customers of the networks.

Sort of, but users really are like customers in that you have to make them happy. If you don't have users, advertisers don't care about you. Users sort of pay you in currency (audience) that can only be turned into real currency by advertisers. If you cater to advertisers first, you won't have any users -- users really do have to come first. That being said, obviously both groups are very important for any large website.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:06 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


DU: Second of all, you don't have to click on an ad for it to affect you. Third of all, advertisers don't want your eyeballs on Facebook. They want your data (including behavior). And they get it.

Well, I guess it affected me because I'm talking about it here. But to be honest, I don't give two rips that some faceless agency knows I like Amanda Palmer.
posted by King Bee at 6:08 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I guess I'm using it wrong, because it's not ruining my life, getting me fired or arrested, or anything else bad.
posted by mannequito at 6:17 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Facebook became much more enjoyable to me once I registered with a spam e-mail and cranked the privacy settings up to 11.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:25 PM on July 20, 2010


ZOMG! King Bee like Amanda Palmer?!?
posted by slogger at 6:27 PM on July 20, 2010


If I could go back in time and invest in either Facebook or LinkedIn, I think I'd pick LinkedIn. Facebook is probably going to peak at a higher point, but I feel like it's an out-of-control monster lacking any sort of clear mission. OTOH, LinkedIn seems much more focused and pragmatic.
posted by mullacc at 6:28 PM on July 20, 2010


OTOH, LinkedIn seems much more focused and pragmatic.

But I wanna share baaaaaby pictures! And like other people's baby pictures! Not network with silly titles about silly jobs!

I'd really wonder what the demos skew like on Facebook right now. It's pretty much, well, everyone. That's what got me hooked initially -- it's like every site that previously tried to be a reunion and all catch up site, except they had everyone, and it was free to use, and what have you.

Now of course the trick is, trying to get the non geek-web savvy folks on there that I've reconnected with to provide me with alternate forms of contact should the whole Facebook implode. Why would it implode, they wonder? Oh, well, you know...
posted by cavalier at 6:32 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sort of, but users really are like customers in that you have to make them happy.

Only for the most loosest definition of happy. I mean, Two and A Half Men was the number one comedy this season and just a couple years ago CSI: Miami was the number one drama, and those shows are both quintessential garbage in the same way that Facebook is -- you can find no shortage of people that will dump on them and spew hate at them all day long, and yet somehow by their sheer mass they sell enough eyeballs to make everybody rich.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:32 PM on July 20, 2010


Also, corporations are after profit and they have no scruples and everything is a product or someone telling you to buy something to worship the allmighty dollar. Yes, we know. Why do so many of you think this is news?
posted by cavalier at 6:33 PM on July 20, 2010


Right now the overlap between parent/child users on facebook is relatively small. As the children of the current 20 and 30 somethings grow up, facebook will increasingly be perceived as old-timey. Additionally, for the teens and tweens now, facebook has essentially been around their whole lives. It will quickly become the status quo and therefore boring and not cool. The younger generation will slowly, almost silently, adopt something new and cool beneath the radar. This new shiny thing will gain traction and eventually become the hot new thing. This is only way I can see facebook being dethroned at this point. It is also inevitable.
posted by milarepa at 6:53 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, you children! If you're old enough to remember bulletin board systems, you know we were doing "Facebook" decades ago.

There is a need here, I think, that Facebook or some successor will fill. The World Wide Web gave us the whole planet. But we want Community. Whoever gets that right, will own the Internet.
posted by SPrintF at 7:03 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Additionally, for the teens and tweens now, facebook has essentially been around their whole lives. It will quickly become the status quo and therefore boring and not cool. The younger generation will slowly, almost silently, adopt something new and cool beneath the radar.

That's a very good point, but I wonder if anybody even considers Facebook to be 'cool' anymore. I think that for most people, it's just natural. So rather than LiveJournal or Xanga, it's something more akin to Google - a situation where the service is actually more important than the cultural cachet.

OTOH, I can definitely see the fact that it's social media meaning that it's inherently also cultural. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out over the next half-decade from this perspective.
posted by graphnerd at 7:10 PM on July 20, 2010


Serious question about your last issue: to what are you referring? Who, exactly are they giving away data to?

Today I went to look up a phone number on Yelp and it told me that one of my friends posted something on Yelp. It got this information from Facebook, where I set every privacy option to its most paranoid setting (though that was like a whole month ago, probably the "hide contact info" box I checked now means "allow DNA sample to be taken" or god knows what). I never had to authorize anything for Yelp to get this information. I have never had an account on Yelp. Facebook claims it hides my friends list, yet Yelp gets to see it.

I stopped actively using or checking Facebook a while ago and only keep the account open so I can get messages from the people who will write me through the Facebook mail system but not through e-mail, but at this point I don't think it's worth even doing that and I'll probably delete my account soon.
posted by enn at 7:11 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


enn,

I could be wrong about this, but I'm almost certain that Yelp never actually has any of that data... It appears that way because it's on the Yelp site, but those are all calls to the Facebook API. What you're actually seeing is essentially a window into a tiny part of Facebook on that site.
posted by graphnerd at 7:14 PM on July 20, 2010


If anyone puts something on Facebook (or the internet at large) that they didn't want seen, then they are very stupid indeed.

The stupid people are the ones who think it's OK to give up all control of their information for all time because they're sure that what they want seen today will be exactly the same as what they want seen in thirty years.
posted by enn at 7:14 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mark Zuckerberg's lawyer is "unsure" if he signed a contract that would give another man 84% ownership of Facebook. That would be ironic since Zuckerberg allegedly copied the idea for Facebook from another group of Harvard students.
Okay look. Zuckerberg is a total douchbag. But the "Social Network" idea was OBVIOUS to EVERYONE. Friendster racked up millions of users before anyone had ever heard of Myspace. But their servers couldn't handle it. Myspace racked up hundreds of millions of users but their website sucked and they weren't competent. Now Facebook has racked up hundreds of millions of users but people hate it. Something else might come along that actually respects people's privacy. If enough people can join it could definetly gain enough momentum to topple facebook.

But the point is, accusing Zuck of "stealing" the "idea" is just ridiculous. In fact there were other competing social networks going around harvard at the same time. Facebook just happened to be the one that took off.
I think it's a bit disingenuous to say that Facebook will be a footnote in a few years. While they may not have 500 million active users, that number is easily tens—if not hundreds—of millions. Then again, I suppose there's AOL to point to as the counterexample.
Myspace, and friendster, would be the even obviouser counterexamples. The reason facebook is successful is that everyone is on it. Once everyone gets on something else, that utility will diminish greatly.

On the other hand, a good example of how to "do it wrong" would be google Buzz. That probably has hundreds of millions of "not-opted-out" "users" but no one talks about it or cares.

---

Also I'm suprised to see so many facebook defenders. They're right that facebook's value is the fact that it's useful because "everyone you know" is on it. But once "everyone you know" or even just "most of the people you know" move to a new, better, service you have every reason to use that other site more. That's exactly how facebook killed myspace.

And what really skeeves me, and I think a lot of people out, is why exactly fb has a right to make money off our real life relationships? Facebook's privacy had to 'change' in order to 'evolve' as a bussiness? Right, exactly. ANother way to put that is that facebook betrayed it's users' privacy in order to make more money. The two statements are equivalent, just with a different emphasis.
Well, I guess it affected me because I'm talking about it here. But to be honest, I don't give two rips that some faceless agency knows I like Amanda Palmer.
Except facebook is far more obnoxious because it routs that information right to the people who actually know and might care, and it changes the privacy settings and tools all the time so you can't even keep track about what it's broadcasting about you.
Today I went to look up a phone number on Yelp and it told me that one of my friends posted something on Yelp. It got this information from Facebook, where I set every privacy option to its most paranoid setting (though that was like a whole month ago, probably the "hide contact info" box I checked now means "allow DNA sample to be taken" or god knows what). I never had to authorize anything for Yelp to get this information. I have never had an account on Yelp. Facebook claims it hides my friends list, yet Yelp gets to see it.
Yeah, there is some setting specifically for partner sites. Which is different then the "instant personalization" crap where you see your own picture and can post a comment or 'like' A web page. That irritated me so much and there is no way to turn it off as far as I know. I don't even open facebook in firefox anymore, I use Chrome for facebook and firefox for almost everything else.
posted by delmoi at 7:21 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I could be wrong about this, but I'm almost certain that Yelp never actually has any of that data... It appears that way because it's on the Yelp site, but those are all calls to the Facebook API. What you're actually seeing is essentially a window into a tiny part of Facebook on that site.

Looking at it quickly in Firebug, the list of friends' activity is coming from Yelp's servers, not Facebook's.
posted by enn at 7:22 PM on July 20, 2010


Facebook is one communication medium to manage. Email,RSS, skype, IM... fuck that.

"Email is one communication medium to manage. Facebook, RSS, skype, IM... fuck that". But then I'm not in the "was college age or younger when facebook came out" demographic and all my friends and family use email, except one cousin who uses Facebook (I'm sure many of them have Facebook accounts, I do, but no one seems to actually use it).
posted by markr at 7:26 PM on July 20, 2010


you can find no shortage of people that will dump on them and spew hate at them all day long, and yet somehow by their sheer mass they sell enough eyeballs to make everybody rich.

Just because there's a vocal group that hates them doesn't mean there wasn't a larger group that loved them. I don't see why you don't believe a lot of people loved those shows (don't get me wrong, I certainly wasn't among them). Certainly I heard a lot of people say they liked them.

Facebook is kind of the same. There's a significant group of people who dislike them, a significant group who uses it despite reservations [that would include me]. But there's also a lot of people who just plain like it. Of course, Facebook has a much more powerful network effect than TV shows (which sort of have one in that you might want to be able to have something to talk about with friends, but that's nothing compared to the potential social isolation of not being on Facebook [depending on your friends]).
posted by wildcrdj at 7:33 PM on July 20, 2010


Yeah, there is some setting specifically for partner sites

I think it's Privacy Settings -> Applications and Websites (lower left) -> Instant Personalization -> uncheck the Enable box.

I've done that and see no Facebook stuff on Yelp even when I'm logged into Facebook. Who knows WTF is going on behind the scenes, though, I'm still not putting anything on Facebook I don't want the world to see.
posted by wildcrdj at 7:36 PM on July 20, 2010


Oh, you children! If you're old enough to remember bulletin board systems, you know we were doing "Facebook" decades ago.

If you're old enough to remember the Agora, you know we were doing "Facebook" millennia ago.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:39 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Instant personalization gives you a richer, more connected experience as you browse the web, and partner sites can only access the information and content you've already made available to everyone."

Thanks for pointing out how to turn that off wildcrj, I went to Yelp and that kind of freaked me out.
posted by marxchivist at 7:57 PM on July 20, 2010


The whole point is that everybody is on it, so your actions and messages can include everyone you know with only a single action.

I think this is true only for people who were college-age or younger when FB started, a group which I think is disproportionately represented on MetaFilter. For older folks (I'm 38) it's nothing like this; the proportion of people I know who are FB friends with me is pretty small. Every once in a while I still get a friend request, but the rate has slowed a lot. If I want to arrange something with friends, we do it by e-mail, not Facebook; I receive maybe 50 e-mails a day, and maybe 2 FB messages. I don't think I'm atypical of my age group in this respect.


I'm 37, and I can think of 2 people I know who are not on Facebook.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:00 PM on July 20, 2010


You are product / Soylent green is people / It's a cookbook!

Look, I have asked this sort of question here before and have yet to receive an answer, but maybe this time I will get something:

My facebook page has my name and that I am male. Period. Dedicated combing of my friends list and my posting history would probably suggest that I live in Canada, am around forty, and am bilingual and that I know a half dozen people named Paul; a review of my photos would reveal that I travel a fair bit; an analysis of my interests would likely suggest that I am somewhat socially liberal, that several of my friends are artists, and that I enjoy Not Being On Fire.

Please oh please tell me: you are a marketer for Procter and Gamble or Paramount or Qantas -- what danger do I face from you?

Going back to facebook just now to check what ads are currently sidebarred, I see that I have been invited to play Pac-Man, that I can get tips about wine by clicking here or that I should write to this e-mail address to apply for a job as a travel consultant. (I have never yet clicked on a facebook ad and really haven't noticed them for a long time -- I find them far less intrusive than, say, the ads before a movie). Please tell me in concrete terms how I have been commoditized and why I should ZOMG DISCTIAVTE MY ACCOUNT IMMEDATELY1111.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:19 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Facebook is kind of the same. There's a significant group of people who dislike them, a significant group who uses it despite reservations [that would include me]. But there's also a lot of people who just plain like it.

That's kind of my point -- it doesn't matter that these user satisfaction surveys or whatever tend to say that there's people that hate Facebook, as Facebook doesn't really have to care what users think as long as advertisers are happy (which they most definitely are) and there's a large enough pool of users that enough of them will watch a little CSI: Miami here and there while they fold clothes, metaphorically speaking.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:44 PM on July 20, 2010


That's a very good point, but I wonder if anybody even considers Facebook to be 'cool' anymore. I think that for most people, it's just natural. So rather than LiveJournal or Xanga, it's something more akin to Google - a situation where the service is actually more important than the cultural cachet.

I agree, but kids will care about connecting in new and cool and PRIVATE ways. Perhaps the technology that will destroy facebook hasn't been invented yet. Just like it was hard to imagine ubiquitous cellphones in 1985, it's hard to imagine today what will replace facebook. Imagining just another site doing it now is difficult. I can state with certainty though that kids are the ones that will make it popular while their parents login to facebook to schedule their brunch dates.
posted by milarepa at 9:13 PM on July 20, 2010


My facebook page has my name and that I am male. Period. Dedicated combing of my friends list and my posting history would probably suggest that I live in Canada, am around forty, and am bilingual and that I know a half dozen people named Paul; a review of my photos would reveal that I travel a fair bit, bla bla bla ... what danger do I face from you?

Well, maybe you have a perfect life and don't have any reason to worry about anyone knowing everything about you. But who knows what exactly might embarrass someone later on. A lot of people probably posted things they only wanted their close friends to see, only to have facebook change the settings later on to force people to show more information. If you treat everything you put on facebook as potentially being public, then you probably don't have much to worry about it.

But there's also the situation where people post pictures of you, tag you, which you don't have control over until after the fact. It could be as simple as a picture you don't think if flattering.

It's just obnoxious that the company is making these decisions for you, and doing things in a way to maximize it's profit. Crap like beacon, like opening up photos, etc. It's just bullshit.

Now, maybe you don't mind a having a company that turns details of your private life into money, by sharing them with anyone it thinks might be interested, including everyone who knows you without any warning, in which case I guess you don't have a problem with facebook. But believe it or not some people like to have some control over their lives even if there isn't a specific measurable 'danger' that comes from having your privacy violated.
posted by delmoi at 9:30 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are "poking" and pegging synonyms? (I want to know whether to be depressed no one has ever "poked" me...or relieved.)
posted by maxwelton at 9:43 PM on July 20, 2010


A friend of mine interning at Facebook says the company is remarkable for getting a lot done with a small number of employees. Apparently they're able to get by with two part-timers maintaining the sort of functionality that would usually take a much larger full-time team. To me that suggests that Facebook is a damn good software company, and therefore complaints that people have about their product probably have to do with that product's intrinsic nature and not Facebook's execution of it.

Additionally the fact that the site has been redesigned 3 times suggests that the company is open to change. If the thing that replaces Facebook's current site will be profitable, it may very well be Zuck & friends that write it.
posted by astrofinch at 10:28 PM on July 20, 2010


As someone who just went through there API migration last month, I would have to disagree with you that they're writing great software.

Mock AJAX facebook bug on Facebook breaks majority of apps.
posted by sleslie at 10:36 PM on July 20, 2010


I'd guess the mock AJAX thing probably has more to do with quality control that architectural merits. Facebook still counts as a great software company if they're able to produce industry-standard, poorly architected software at a rate significantly higher than the median. But the fact that their software is poorly architected is evidence they aren't shockingly great like I was beginning to think.
posted by astrofinch at 10:52 PM on July 20, 2010


Woops, I didn't realize the mock AJAX thing has been unfixed for over two weeks.
posted by astrofinch at 10:55 PM on July 20, 2010


You're talking about the braintrusts that thought it would be a good idea to put all images on a CDN as static assets with absolutely no access control and only a hashed value in the URL to obfuscate things. This means that photo security is by obscurity: your supposedly private photos are only private as long as nobody copies the URL of the image and sends it to an outsider. And conveniently, if you are given such a URL you can always trace it back to the owner's profile because their ID is in a predictable spot in the URL encoding.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:01 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


But we want Community. Whoever gets that right, will own the Internet.

The BBSs I used to frequent and operate had this part down so much better. But that's because figuring out modems and computers back in the day used to be hard, thus it was the province of geeks. So you automatically had a filter: everyone I talk to will at least have a certain degree of intelligence that I can count on.

And because it was dial-up, and because dial-up was so inherently tied to your area code (unless you could afford long distance charges (long distance! ha! remember those?)) that meant you had to mind your Ps and Qs or risk getting banned. If your account was banned, that was it for you. I mean, there were only ever a handful of like-minded geeks in any particular area code, so a ban meant enormous ostracization.

Imagine if Google banned you for being a dick in one of your posts. That would suck pretty hard, huh?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:31 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think I would like to log on to facebook as my sister some day, just to see how different the experience.

I work in nightlife, which means most of my friends are bartenders, djs, photographers, and party people, and, except for the party people, facebook is a big part of their business (at least as much as traditional flyering and probably more) so I'm constantly being inundated (and inundating others) with event spam.

Most of these people use facebook for "normal" social media interactions as well: pictures of their pets and babies, status updates about movies and books and what they ate for dinner, shit talking and catching up with friends

But I've been alerted to the fact that my facebook experience is not everyone's, especially when an old classmate, or one of my girlfriend's cousins apologizes for not being able to make it out to one of my events (it's okay, I know I have a lot, and I know that I'll only see you at maybe one party this year, but I'm going to keep inviting you to everything, just in case you're looking for something to do, and because the only way I can see most of my friends is for them to show up where I'm working).

So I'd love to see Facebook from the perspective of my sister, a newly-married doctor whose friends mostly consist of people we went to gradeschool and temple with, her med school classmates, and her husband's frat brothers and extended family. I'd also love to see how spammy I come off as from the account of a normal person with a grown-up job.
posted by elr at 1:29 AM on July 21, 2010


The survey questioned the wrong group of people; surely we're all aware by now that the customers of facebook are its advertisers, and the users are its product? I suspect that Facebook's true customers (i.e. those that pay it money) are somewhat more satisfied with the way things are going then the users.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:02 AM on July 21, 2010


But there's also the situation where people post pictures of you, tag you, which you don't have control over until after the fact. It could be as simple as a picture you don't think if flattering.


It is a trivial thing to set the privacy settings so that only I can see photos tagged with my name. It took me about eight seconds to figure out how to do this.

Now, maybe you don't mind a having a company that turns details of your private life into money, by sharing them with anyone it thinks might be interested, including everyone who knows you without any warning, in which case I guess you don't have a problem with facebook.

Again, we find critics ignoring the question. Are there really marketing research companies who will pay big bucks to facebook to learn that I once publicly declared that I like The Who and that because I posted a scan of a nineteenth-century family photo, that my great-great-grandfather's name was Jeremiah? If so, I wish them luck in constructing a coherent profile for me from that -- that was definitely money well-spent.

Look, as with everything in life it is a trade-off. I have a telephone and so I accept that once every couple of months it will ring with some stranger calling to try to sell me something. Are you equally adamant that becase telemarketers exist, people with phones are suckers?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:53 AM on July 21, 2010


A friend of mine interning at Facebook says the company is remarkable for getting a lot done with a small number of employees. Apparently they're able to get by with two part-timers maintaining the sort of functionality that would usually take a much larger full-time team. To me that suggests that Facebook is a damn good software company, and therefore complaints that people have about their product probably have to do with that product's intrinsic nature and not Facebook's execution of it.

I hate Facebook's software. It will often do things like not get rid of notifiers (the red speech bubbles that pop up when you get a message). The auto-populator for putting links into your status works how i expect it to roughly 75% of the time, which isn't a very good number. The other day I was writing a message that had the audacity to go over 1 paragraph long, and the text box field wouldn't show the text below a certain point. When I tried to scroll it jumped up to the top of the box. I had to write my message in Word, and then copy and paste it in. And when I did that it fucked up the formatting. Sometimes these things get fixed, sometimes they don't.

Aside from things that just don't work, there's also the fact that the UI is cumbersome. Turning off a feature is a guessing game, at best. I can't change how my page looks. Log out isn't a large, visible button, but is instead hid under accounts. If I want to create a fan page there's no easy link from my homepage. Setting up the list of people who can see photos I'm tagged in was a herculean task compared to what it should have been.

Apart from all of this they're always changing stuff, which means I have to read some tutorial online to turn off the new bit of my data that's currently leaking out into the open web.

I'm still on it because it would be an even larger pain to not be... although I'm not so sure about that any more. I've been considering how different my life would be without facebook, and increasingly it's seeming like it would in fact be better. I would miss posting cool links to my status though.
posted by codacorolla at 6:53 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is a trivial thing to set the privacy settings so that only I can see photos tagged with my name. It took me about eight seconds to figure out how to do this.

That only removes the link from your profile to photos of you. The photo is still there, and its visibility settings were chosen by whoever uploaded it. That is, potentially the entire world. And your name is still attached and linked from the photo if you didn't untag it.
posted by stopgap at 8:38 AM on July 21, 2010


And your name is still attached and linked from the photo if you didn't untag it.

If.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:37 AM on July 21, 2010


Speaking of the forthcoming movie, I first saw the poster a few nights ago when I was a bit tired and could have sworn that was supposed to be 4chan's moot. I'm still not entirely clear on how I feel about the thought of a 4chan movie being released to the general public.
posted by mindless progress at 9:43 AM on July 21, 2010


Mistakes were made.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:12 AM on July 21, 2010


The photo is still there, and its visibility settings were chosen by whoever uploaded it. That is, potentially the entire world.

Isn't this also true of almost every picture ever uploaded to any website? If someone has taken a picture of you and desperately wants to put it on the Internet, there's really not that much you can do to stop it.
posted by Copronymus at 10:41 AM on July 21, 2010


Well, sure. But Facebook leads people to believe that they can hide pictures of themselves. In fact, the very savvy userbase of Metafilter has demonstrated numerous times that Facebook is largely successful in this bit of deception. The obfuscation is certainly purposeful on their part, unlike other sites that strive to make it at least somewhat clear that your pictures are not safe from general view.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:53 PM on July 21, 2010


In related news: NY Man's Facebook Ownership Claim Lands in Court -- " Facebook will try to get a New York man's claim for majority ownership of the website thrown out of court, attorneys for the social networking site said Tuesday."
posted by ericb at 4:42 PM on July 21, 2010


Well, sure. But Facebook leads people to believe that they can hide pictures of themselves. In fact, the very savvy userbase of Metafilter has demonstrated numerous times that Facebook is largely successful in this bit of deception. The obfuscation is certainly purposeful on their part, unlike other sites that strive to make it at least somewhat clear that your pictures are not safe from general view.

Deception? What?

I adjust my account settings to say that all of my photo albums are private - i.e., friends only.
I adjust my account settings to say that photos or videos I'm tagged in are private -- i.e., friends only.

I'm all about Facebook sucks because they keep changing the dice and code and having me re-institute privacy settings ever so often, but where is the deception in the above, and how do you feel they are secretly still showing images of me without my consent?
posted by cavalier at 9:46 AM on July 22, 2010


I adjust my account settings to say that all of my photo albums are private - i.e., friends only.

This does what you expect.

I adjust my account settings to say that photos or videos I'm tagged in are private -- i.e., friends only.

This doesn't. This just means that the link below your profile picture ("View photos of cavalier") is only visible to your friends. The privacy settings for the photos themselves are set by whoever posted each photo. Thus whoever uploaded the photo could be sharing it with that one guy you don't like, your mom, or even me.
posted by stopgap at 11:11 AM on July 22, 2010


stopgap's got it. cavalier, thank you for demonstrating exactly my point. Facebook's settings are quite deceptive. They don't do what you expect or lead you to believe.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:28 AM on July 23, 2010


I see. Well, ain't that shitty. You could still unag, I imagine, but you'd have to manually do that.
posted by cavalier at 9:07 AM on July 23, 2010


untag. bleh.
posted by cavalier at 9:07 AM on July 23, 2010


.
posted by Tarumba at 11:28 AM on July 23, 2010


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