Thursday, December 30, 2010

Some general Facebook begrudgery

I begrudge Facebook for all the usual reasons that people waaah about it - "privacy waaah", "annoying apps waaah", but I have a few pet peeves that I've heard few others voicing, so I'm going to get them off my chest.

Irrelevant ads

Without having to consult any of the information I've given it, Facebook has a rough idea of where I am in the world, and what browser I'm using.

I use Google Chrome almost exclusively, and yet, for about a month, I got ads imploring me to try Google Chrome - while I was using that very browser! What a waste of a perfectly good slot that could have gone towards selling me irrelevant training-courses I have zero interest in.

That's not too bad, but I've also been enticed to try out the HTC Desire, which is exclusive to US Cellular in the US, seemingly - problems with this are that I don't live in the US (even if I do spend a lot of time there), and I already have the HTC Desire! I've posted on Facebook from my HTC Desire. Facebook knows this already. But it doesn't give a toss, it'll count my impressions anyhow when advertisers are checking their stats.

It bugs the hell out of me - it's like a waiter hovering over you insisting you try the fish when you've already got a mouthful of mackerel. [Also, in this analogy, the waiter reads your diary every day to sell you food more efficiently.]

Despite having access to the same geo-location software that lets (for example) highlight Irish-relevant content, as well as a whole crazy stack of personal information both proffered and acquired through observation, the advertising on Facebook is worthless. As a person who is interested in the whole online-marketing game, this is a pity, but it's hardly the kind of thing that ought to put me off the service as a whole, so let's move on.

Coerced Evangelism

What does bug me is Facebook's 'Friend Finder' service, or rather, how I'm accosted every time I log in to Facebook to find more friends. My work e-mail is pounded every day from people I've e-mailed once or twice announcing that they've signed up for Facebook, and I should too, and it's because of this wretched service.

I haven't used it, but it's my understanding that it uses your e-mail credentials to scan your contacts, informs you of the ones that are already on Facebook, and pesters the ones who aren't (such as my work e-mail).

The last thing I need are more friends on Facebook. Horrible, needy things, friends. Crying out for advice, venting about bad days, and generally getting all histrionic in my news feed.

Speaking of generally misleading users...

There was a recent tizzy over the recent breaching of Gawker's user accounts, so when Facebook displayed a message advising me that my account wasn't as secure as it ought to be, I was interested. Here's what it looked like as I went down the rabbit hole:

Oh dear, it seems that my account protection could be a little better.

Okay, my e-mail addresses are accounted for, what else can I do?

Add my phone details so that they can use that as an extra layer of verification security, like Google does to verify business listings (among other things)? Sounds great, only they call it 'Facebook Mobile' for some reason. Oh well, better sign up for it - my every security is at stake.

Hang on a tick! Facebook mobile is only available to Meteor customers. Damn you Facebook! Almost fooled me into signing up for something again, but lucky for me I can't even complete the process you've duped me into since I'm on Vodafone.

A group of 10 or so of my friends are currently organizing our plans for New Year's Eve. We're using a big e-mail thread. It's quite elegant, there's no privacy concerns about somebody intruding on the conversation, and the conversation is fairly focused, 24 emails later. Not only that, but the ads Gmail displays are somewhat pertinent!

Now that I think about it, most of us aren't even friends on Facebook. 

I was excited about Facebook when it was a sandbox for US college students to display hilarious pictures of me drinking from various penis-shaped straws. Now it's a social obligation that I propagate because of my crowd-following proclivities. Even after painstaking efforts to set up privacy filters to funnel innocence-shattering content away from my younger and older relatives, there's little I wish to share on Facebook. [I can't wait until everybody moves to the next big thing and we enjoy a few months in 'the sweet spot' before it gets too popular and becomes a pain again.]

So to summarize: Facebook is an online service that has been tainted by its cynical and often misleading attempts to boost its userbase (not to mention its users' level of engagement with the platform), which continues to chagrin me with each iteration, unlike another online service I use every day, but that's a blog entry for another day.

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