I came across an article today in the NYTimes describing how people are starting to leave Facebook. While the author’s claims are anecdotal (certainly the numbers indicate impressive growth), I found myself silently nodding in agreement at some of her points. The author outlines the feelings of being a stalker, concern of ownership of data, the “corporatization” of the site, the concern over FB’s tracking on 3rd party sites and the uselessness of it all, as reasons people have recently left the site. While I’m not ready to jump ship yet, I have noticed my FB use has drastically decreased.
In the past few months I’ve found that my newsfeed has less relevant information, mostly from people I don’t care about. I’m big on Twitter, the updates I get are personal, social and professional. I’m able to learn new stuff about the web world, keep up with my favorite artists and (to a lesser degree) connect with friends. The updates in my Facebook feed are largely spammy quiz results from girls I went to middle school with (Sorry Laura, I don’t care what Twilight character you most resemble). Maybe I should only accept real friend requests, maybe not.
Now it seems like FB is trying to compete with Twitter head on, by making status updates public and adding real-time search. Personally I think this is a terrible idea. I use Facebook and Twitter for different reasons. Facebook can differentiate itself by being the place I go to stay up with my “real” friends, plan events and share photos. Create more useful communication applications (like video and group chat), give me better ways to share my photos and videos (like embedding slideshows) and cut down spam by 90%. There are huge opportunities for Facebook in location based services as well.
I understand that Facebook needs to make money, and sees real-time as a huge opportunity, but they should focus on Facebook connect (already 10k+ sites using it). Want profit? Spread your tendrils across the web, become the universal ID then the defacto payment system for the web. Create an app store (I’d pay 99 cents for Mafia Wars) and allow microtransactions (25 cents for some more poker chips).
Don’t be Twitter, that’s not why we came to you in the first place…