Why I Love/Hate Facebook
One of the first social networking websites that gained massive popularity was MySpace. Ten years ago, everyone had a MySpace page, and used it to keep up with all of their friends and to share music before it became illegal to share copyrighted music. Eventually, when that generation moved on to high school, they joined Facebook, back when it was exclusively for college and high school students, and required you have a school e-mail address in order to be able to join. Finally, Twitter entered the picture, taking the status update trend to it’s peak by simplifying it and making it mainstream. Within the past four years however, Facebook opened up to the general public, allowing anyone and everyone to join. And within those past few years of it being open, they’ve changed the layout more times than most social networking websites do within a twenty year period. With these changes have come controversy, and the state of Facebook is up in the air, yet, it continues to be extremely popular.
The latest update, however, completely changed the way the information is relayed to the user, which has annoyed a large audience which has used Facebook for quite some time. The way your friend’s updates were sent to you is the main feature that has changed many times over, until now, where it gives you an information overload. Before, you had the option to just receive your friends’ status updates on the main page, giving you the main information that your friends wanted you to have. Over time, Facebook modified the home page to show you whenever your friends changed something on their profile. Now, you see not only their status updates, but every time they add a friend and when they fan a page or join a group. Most of this is extreme information overload, as you don’t know 90% of the people that your friends are becoming friends with, yet Facebook finds it important to let you know this information anyways.
Following this mess, they also reorganized the top bar and left sidebars in a very inconvenient way. When you first look at the top bar, you’ll notice next to the Facebook logo three images, all which drop down when you click on them. The problem is, unless there is a new update and they are lit up in a lighter blue, you can barely see them as they are a dark blue on blue background. This color choice doesn’t seem to make much sense, as these buttons still can be useful to the ordinary user if they could see them more properly. And even though there is a new button for when you receive new friend requests at the top, you still receive an alert in the right hand sidebar telling you that you have a new friend request, making it redundant in one of the two locations.
The left sidebar was also updated in order to, in theory, organize all of the major functions of Facebook better. However, in doing this, they’ve hidden some of the features that were normally out in the open behind other menus that supposedly make sense. To find the Video section, you now have to first go into the Photos dropdown. While, in an effort to save space, this could make sense, for those who are looking for videos on a whim, they have to go searching through the menus to find it. Another issue which has come with the new sidebars is the size of the page. In what can only be assumed as an attempt by Facebook to appeal to those users who still are using a low resolution on their monitor, they’ve shrunk the page so that it fits into a smaller area. However, in doing this, they also kept all of the previous pages at their same resolution, meaning that pages which were once longer are now squished together to fit into these new dimensions, making them look much less professional than they have been before.
Even though Facebook has all of these shortcomings, there is still one major use for Facebook. Facebook is one of the leading social networking sites on the Internet, meaning they get an immense amount of traffic daily. Small game developers have used Facebook as a platform to host their games, and they can even make money that way, especially when enough people play the game and spend real money in order to obtain in-game items. One of the leading examples of that is Farmville, now an award-winning game in a new category that has been showing up in many video game award shows lately for Best Social Networking Game. They are able to have their company and make a profit just by having their game on sites which use an Application platform which was started by Facebook, and now has been adopted by MySpace, which also has games such as these.
But another one of the main features of Facebook is for companies and businesses. Just like on Twitter, companies can use Facebook to make a page specifically for themselves, and can update their fans or consumers on the status of their projects, to hold contests, or just to advertise whenever they have an update on their website. It’s a great way of getting your company exposure to a massive amount of people at once. Even the Weasel Report has their own Facebook Page which updates it’s fans whenever there is a new entry here, and even allows fans to comment on those entries there if they don’t want to comment here. For a website or company owner, it makes it hard to not participate in Facebook when you know there is so much potential to communication and connect with your fans on it.
Facebook is, as stated before, one of the largest, if not THE largest, social networking website on the Internet today. However, even while their status update idea which started by saying “Your name is…” and then having the user enter the rest, then allowing the user to remove the “is” and replace it with whatever word they wish, and eventually moving to the current “What’s on your mind?” question which was virtually started by Twitter, the site just has lost it’s originality, and keeps trying to change in order to keep people interested in staying with them. It’s main hook, however, is the ability to keep up with companies that are popular, or to advertise your own if you so wish. It’s a vicious cycle, but when you get this popular, it’s hard to let it go.