A friend posted on facebook today, “Anyone notice you can’t stop notifications on posts any longer?”
I didn’t. I doubt most users did. It’s not particularly concerning, just another one of those changes from FB’s daily tinkering. I did figure out today that I can upload a photo to reply to a comment. Or rather I could, if it actually worked properly.
I joined FB reluctantly in 2007 (according to my timeline, anyway), partly because Myspace had become a wasteland of glittery nonsense and preteens and partly because my band at the time had a page, and that was just after you didn’t need a .edu email address to join anymore. I was never very enamored with the site, but eventually most people wound up there and it became the easiest way to keep up with people over time and distance.
Even then, just as it was becoming the beast it is now, people were lamenting the same facebook-brand shit. There are generally two categories of complaints: a) something fuctional has changed (the layout/UI, options, locations of user controls) or b) ads and data collection becoming more intrusive and invasive. The second is something that most users are aware of and to some degree wary of, but we’ve tolerated it because the main function of FB to users- the ability to contact and keep up with people easily and in real time- is still overwhelmingly successful. Secondarily, the resonance of this degree of data mining hasn’t become clearly felt yet, and probably won’t be for a few more years (that’s a different discussion, though).
The former complaint is the one that will eventually kill the site. Anyone who’s used the site more than a couple of years has seen the user controls be shuffled around or removed. Ask anyone who’s ever tried to delete an old post or picture only to see it pop up years later in the “timeline” how well those work anyway. Diminishing trust in the site, and increasing amounts of ads disguised as posts or menu buttons lead to users sharing less, and less frequently. I rarely post as it is; anymore I use the message function to communicate with individuals. No doubt the IM function will change in the next year or so, probably integrated into the posts section (which FB will claim as an attempt to “simplify” things). Either way, eventually some new site will pop up and address these concerns, and we’ll all slowly move over there until Justin Timberlake buys the rotting carcass of Facebook and turns it into an equally dead “music site”.
People will claim the internet exists for communication, or learning, or porn; the truth is, the internet exists because it’s convenient. Make a site increasingly less convenient, and eventually some enterprising young deviant will step up and replace it with a better model. I think we’re all just waiting for that.