How Facebook Messed Up. (in 2006)

Today UIE posted a new podcast "The Book Of Face" with Phoenix's own Robert Hoekman Jr.. The show discussed how facebook has been pretty good at "pissing their users off" and made mention of the whole newsfeed debacle. Back in September of 2006 Facebook first released the daily feed feature and as a result it caused a lot of ruckus. Shortly after the backlash came to be - I wrote a public note on Facebook about the entire situation. It was titled "Why newsfeeds are actually good and how Facebook messed up." So here it is reposted again today on my blog:

1:54am Saturday, Sep 9, 2006

So they've been up for a while now, people have had their say, and the head honcho has responded to all of us. I honestly didn't think much of the news-feeds when I first saw them. I was more concerned with the drastic change in the UI without warning. I think seeing something completely different coming onto a site you use everyday is just unacceptable. If you run a large social network keep it the same, implement changes GRADUALLY. Don't surprise users with big changes let them adopt them! Invite us to TRY them.

Look at it this way: if news-feeds were slowly rolled out as an option, which could be activated, I think people would slowly have adopted them and been much more welcome to the concept. Instead, they were turned on FOR us. We weren't asked. They just did it to us. That's not a good way to treat your users. Hence the mess.

So the argument now is should they keep them? I say yes. I don't see it as an invasion of privacy but more of a realization. All of the items that come up on these feeds are public information already. It's not like it's top secret when you write on someone's wall or update your profile. You're putting it up there for all of your friends to see already. If anything news-feeds are helping you stay in touch with what is going on in your friends lives by giving you a birds eye view of all of their activity and vice versa. The feeds actually are really useful.

But wait.. you say "No no Jimmy I still don't like this at all... it just creeps me out." OK so do one of two things A.) Don't be so open about yourself on facebook! Or B.) Set your privacy settings accordingly so your actions don't come up on the mini feed.

Once again.. the problem really is just that they set you up on something you didn't request. If they asked you "Would you like to share your activity in the new facebook news feed feature - yes or no?" We wouldn't have had this problem!

The moral of this story is that the problem was not the idea. The idea is good. The problem was the execution. Bad execution kills great ideas.

Now stop whining, set your privacy settings, take a break from facebook, and come back and enjoy yourself. Besides you're all probably on facebook way too much. I know I have been.