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Facebook is an attack on the open web (daringfireball.net)
1635 points by tambourine_man 171 days ago | hide | past | web | 421 comments | favorite



I deactivated my Facebook account several months ago, and it's been about 90% great, 10% frustrating. It's great for all the obvious reasons (less timesuck, less compulsion to endlessly scroll your life away, no notification interruptions).

The frustrations are real, though. Primarily it's around events and photos. There are some communities I participate in that regularly organize events through Facebook, and now I don't really get invited to those anymore. It's also harder to organize events where you casually invite people you don't know as well.

It's also occasionally annoying not being able to dig up a certain photo you wanted for reference. Even if you have a copy of the photo somewhere, if you don't have it hosted online then you can't really bring it up to show it to someone.

Still, frustrations aside, it's 90% great, and I recommend everyone try it for themselves.


I've enjoyed roughly the same experience but without the downsides.

As far as events go, the neckbeard in me hasn't actually minded. I still get invited to "high quality" events (things my real-life friends are going to) and haven't really missed the lower quality events.

Photos I just conveniently had solved by having all my photos on Google Photos anyways (I stopped trusting offline storage long ago).

I think my Facebook account is reactivated at the moment (due to logging in to search for something) but I disabled notification when I'd originally left and haven't looked back. Life's easier (and way more productive) without the Book.

Interestingly, I still find a lot of value in Messenger. But they've split concerns so you can use that without reactivating your FB account.


I was probably one of the first 1000 to join Facebook beyond the American borders, back when it was still a University-only endeavor. I've been off Facebook for more than 4 years.

Life is generally more rewarding. I'm much more in contact with the life that I want to live, instead of the life that I want to portray. People I know have "unlearned" Facebook - I actually receive emails and phone calls to catch up.

I think that Facebook must be dealing with some unknown human behavior. Back when I was on it, everyone I knew (myself included) would have registered as psychopathic. Photos in relationships revolved around posting to Facebook, not creating a treasury of memories. "Not being official until you're Facebook official" was a thing; such a belief was acceptable back then, even though it's absurd and cold in retrospect. It really brought out the most disgusting part of me and everyone that I knew.

Being off the Book is great. From day one it doesn't get easier; life gets better - especially in terms of avoiding the lower quality riff raff.


I'm kind of surprised to see these posts describing how it's possible to get off Facebook. For me, it doesn't really make much of a difference whether I'm on or off. I barely ever log in, barely ever use it, and things don't really spread through Facebook.

However, that just may be that I don't live in the US, and it just might be more pervasive there.


It's... it's not that Facebook itself is the issue. It's the resulting network effects and how you interact with people while still on it.

For example: not being on Facebook means you actually have to keep in touch with people to know what they are doing. That sounds like a "duh" moment, but it's also key to how FB is replacing real social interaction with "social interaction".

The knock on effects of this are deep, because without it you have to have meaningful and importantly intentioned social interaction with people.

That changes things.


I get that it's the network effects, but I guess I don't understand how your relationships are structured. I have a core group of friends with whom I talk every day on IM or the phone or face to face, then a larger group with whom I talk a few times a week, and then the rest are acquaintances I talk to rarely.

If anything happens in any of the first two groups, I hear about it because I'm directly invited. There aren't things that I hear about from Facebook, unless it's some club organizing an event or something similar.

How do you* interact with people, generally? Do you talk to them less but see what they post on Facebook?

* By "you" I mostly mean "people who use Facebook for socialization".


I am a student and I think I can answer how I use Facebook and it provides "some" value to me.

I also have the same three tiered social circle. The first circle I have regular contacts with on the phone, WhatsApp or in person. The second circle tells me when something happens in their life like them getting placed, winning a competition or getting into a relationship.

Facebook helps me immensely with the third group. I can get to know when people are placed in jobs and can then call them up to rekindle the acquaintance (so that I can later get them to introduce me to other people to expand my professional network). If I call regularly (like maybe once each two months) then it quickly turns into silence because we don't know what the other person is doing at the moment, where they are or even what has lately happened in their lives. I can't also talk about common acquaintances due to the same lack of information.

Personally for me Facebook events serve no purpose because if any of us want to plan a meeting we can do so by phone, email or WhatsApp. It does help to plan school reunions though. Facebook's utility to me exists because the people on Facebook keep posting parts of their life on it and I can keep interacting with them without too much effort of having the pain of keeping track of over a 100 acquaintances.


I see, thank you, that makes sense. My problem is that I'll go on Facebook, and see people posting stuff I don't care about, and unfollow them (and obviously lose their important updates as well). Pretty quickly, I have nobody in my timeline, and I just talk to people to see how they're doing.


I agree. Facebook either needs to allow more fine control on what we want to see (education updates, work updates, photos but no text statuses) or improve it's algorithm so that a new comment on a month old content doesn't make it conquer my feed.

I deal with it slightly by checking the "See updates from these people first" for certain people. It causes them to appear in a cluster at the top of my feed. The best thing is that the cluster is collapsed to show just two stories and I can then expand if there are more.


Your core group of friends may use Messenger for IM and FB events for meeting up. You can still probably catch up but it will take a _lot_ more effort.


0riginal neckbeard here - I have none of these problems, I have no friends, personal network, relationships, photos, or social interactions. I have never had Facebook, and I feel absolutely fantastic.


I can attest to that. It is like herding cats.


The question is why then keep an account?


> That changes things.

No, that's exactly what it doesn't. Rather, it leaves them as they were before this stupid and insufficient replacement was invented.


> I still get invited to "high quality" events (things my real-life friends are going to) and haven't really missed the lower quality events.

Just to run a counterpoint to this, there are Facebook groups that have opened up whole new social circles for me and provide opportunities. I'm into whitewater kayaking and the "Where's the Whitewater at?" group has people planning informal trips at a few hours notice when someone drives by and notices a river is runnable. You go out and paddle with people you haven't met before, make new friends who share your interests, etc.

Also, it is great for learning about new hazards in a river, i.e. fallen trees, that make a certain trip either possible or much more dangerous.


Yes, I go to a few underground dance parties a year and it would be a lot harder to find those events (let alone discern which ones I'd prefer to attend, who of my friends will be there, etc) without the networks I have on FB.


Putting my old photos on Google Photos is a good idea and I think I'll do that - thanks. Although it doesn't fully solve the issue of photos that had me tagged but were uploaded by someone else, which FB doesn't give you a copy of when you download your data (afaik).

Funnily enough, I found Messenger to be the worst of all their offerings. The lack of searchable history, the terrible (terrible) scroll-back, the default always-on-screen notification bubble, the way they forced the standalone app down users' throats by disabling messages in both the FB app and the mobile web version, all really turned me off to it.


> The lack of searchable history, ...

Use https://m.me - It's the web app just for Messenger; on my desktop I launch it via Chrome with the --app= param so it runs in it's own window.

Click on the ⓘ that's located in the top right of a conversation, and you'll see the search option (among other things).


A long time ago I used to setup IFTTT to automatically backup Facebook photos with me tagged to a Dropbox folder. This included photos posted by others with me tagged.

I've long since abandoned Facebook, but I wouldn't be surprised if a similar IFTTT feature exists to export tagged photos into Google Photos. If I recall this only works for 'new' photos posted that you are tagged in, it doesn't appear to pull images from before you enabled the IFTTT service. At any rate, this lets you see photos you are tagged in without ever having to actually use your Facebook account.


Messenger has searchable history. It's not great and it's pretty hidden, but it's there.


I never installed Messenger mainly because I was satisfied with using Facebook app's messaging feature. When it was disabled in the app, I moved to using Facebook in the browser (uninstalled the app). They later removed messaging support in the browser as well so now I request "Desktop mode" when I want to read/write a message. What started as "I don't want to install another app I don't need" became "I will uninstall all apps by Facebook" and now I'm happy I never receive FB-related notifications, I only browse it when I feel like it :)


Protip: try mbasic.facebook.com for messaging, or the "Toffeed" app on Android which is just a thin wrapper around this.


That's very helpful, thanks!


There's also https://touch.facebook.com for the not-quite-as-light-as-mbasic version.


wow used to use this one before having the app back in the day, good to know it still exists and a perfect alternative for m.facebook.com with messenger support.


Suggest adding FB to your hosts file:

https://gist.github.com/thomasbilk/1506210/2d20f47bbcca75b2f...

No more accidental or ambiguous re-activation...


Yes! I've done this with a number of websites! It's been a really useful tool in developing self control.

Filtering: not just for censorship.


> (I stopped trusting offline storage long ago).

Do you trust online storage? Meaning, do you have backups of your photos offline somewhere, or are you only in the cloud?


> Interestingly, I still find a lot of value in Messenger. But they've split concerns so you can use that without reactivating your FB account.

Afaik when you deactivate your Facebook account, you have the option to keep the Messenger account, but just deactivate/delete the Facebook account.


If you _deactivate_ account you can keep using Messenger, and you are able to reactivate account in the future. Facebook doesn't delete your data. If you _delete_ account then Facebook will delete all your data and Messenger will be gone too.


Thanks! I didn't know this was possible. I was locked in Facebook because of the Messenger: that's how I communicate with most of my friends. I just deactivated my Facebook account and kept the Messenger.


Facebook was great in the early years.

No ads, no political spam, no viral garbage, no pictures of what your friend ate for dinner, no psychologically manipulative algorithms. Just people talking to their friends and posting pictures of themselves hanging out.

If someone made a new social network like that, I'd sign up today.


> Facebook was great in the early years.

That seems to be depressingly true of any social website. There seems to be a sort, sweet spot that exists briefly between the implementation of a good idea and when the parasites catch on and move in to ruin it.


Eternal September is the term for that. When the social site begins to accept too much trash because of it's size.


For those that don't know, September was when all the freshmen would get their first access to the non-commercial internet in college. It was a pain because they (we) had to learn all the nuances of how to interact with the people already on it. Newgroups, IIRC, etc. Eternal September is the term for when the internet went commercial in 1995.

Wow that happened 27 years ago. Time does fly.


Not to quibble, but it usually refers to 1993, which was when AOL created a bridge from its proprietary network to USENET.


It's about time we all went back to USENET really.


Time does fly, but 1995 was only 22 years ago!


Hah. Damn rum.


I'd say that's depressingly true of any software that's in continuous development. The only difference is the relative proportion of the parasites that do the damage (users, product managers, and developers) to each other. Apache, I feel, is a counterexample, software with continuous development that hasn't turned to shit yet despite being around for quite some time. Some videogame series are also often quite strong over time. Most everything else is subject to this 'rule', sadly.


I'm not sure I'd blame Facebook's problems on it's users. You can always unfriend someone. No, it's Facebook itself that has changed for the worse (by far).


> I'm not sure I'd blame Facebook's problems on it's users.

I am blaming Facebook. The parasites I was thinking of are the people and impulses that pervert the successful formula to push some agenda (e.g. push for some "engagement" metric, push people to use this or that app, unscrupulous monetization, etc).


What was great about Facebook, especially compared to other social networks, is that you had real control over privacy. It was made to communicate with your "real life" friends and family, and keep control with who can see what.

But year after year they've stepped back on privacy, while still being a completely closed platform compared to the open web.


Excluding the "ads", how would you prevent users from posting "political spam", "viral garbage", and "pictures of what your friend ate for dinner"?


Part of the Facebook problem is that they mostly took control of the feed away from users. They now surface the more "engaging" posts at the top and more frequently. This leads to the overemphasis of viral images and videos. If you post a simple personal status message without an image and Facebook's sentiment analysis considers it to be non-engaging many of your friends won't even see it as Facebook will favor marketing spam over your actual personal post. Users also become trained over time by the number of likes they receive to tailor their posts to conform to Facebook's whims.


I tried to write an extension that would hide all video/photo/link posts and only show pure text posts from my friends. It was really nice, although there wasn't much to the feed once all the garbage was hidden...


Even worse, purposely optimizing for engagement isn't too different from accidentally optimizing for outrage.


I'm kind of in the opposite camp. The way-too-excited responses from people reacting to the silly video of my kid just remind me how I often don't like the FB-version of my friends and family. So I really avoid interacting with them there.


Easy: Stop littering the feed with pictures, videos and articles. Exclude them altogether or show them very rarely. You can also easily identify "viral" content that doesn't belong to the user and remove it. Eventually they'll learn not to waste their time posting those things because they'll get no responses. And if someone posts an article, leave it as a plain old text link instead of creating a massive preview of the article (complete with title, picture, lede, etc.).

Facebook does the opposite now, which leads people to use it as a content consumption platform rather than a social network. Obviously that's what Facebook wants, since content consumption is infinitely more profitable than people posting on each other's walls all day.


But, there's a reason people post those things. Excluding the viral repost content for a second, people post their pictures and videos of what they're doing because they want to share it with people and have others see it.


...Which is reason #387 I don't use FB.


Allow people to tag their posts, and have friends who tag their posts. Then have an option to not see posts of type X (link, photo, text, video, audio) tagged with Y by contact Z. Have further options to display little icons with some info for hidden posts to easily expand them inline. And so on.

Yes, you'd have to manually curate some things, but otherwise I think it's mostly just a matter of not hiring any marketing people, and creating the features first and looking how to make them easily usable second. Especially if the goal isn't to "kill FB", but simply offer an alternative to those who want the good bits and actually like, uhh, reading manuals and being proficient with the tools they use.

They can't come if there is nowhere for them to come to, and then it's easy to pretend they don't exist. But they do, even among the old and young and not so technical.


UI can help with that. If there wasn't a share button or URL previews, the percentage of original content would be greater.

AI can help with that. Facebook already has automatic alt text for images, for example:

* Image may contain: 1 person, standing, selfie and phone

* Image may contain: cat

* Image may contain: food

And for an end-user, simple filtering can help with that. I sometimes use the FBPurity browser extension to hide everything that's a link or shared post, leaving almost exclusively original content. It can filter on that automatic alt text too if you hate cats, but I don't mind frivolous posts that are original content from my actual friends.


You'd only let people in with a .edu email and marketing as a hookup app


.edu is only used in the United States.


Remove the like, and let the feed be the actual feed and not an algorithmically-filtered list, would be a great start IMHO.


Try switching your feed from "Top Stories" to "Most Recent"


That doesn't stick between sessions



Thank you!


You'd get most of the way there by making it possible not to see things your friends have shared.


> If someone made a new social network like that, I'd sign up today.

Make your own.

Here's what I did for my local network of friends (who also all hate Facebook). Install Wordpress, add the free Buddypress plugin, purchase $50 BuddyPress theme. Throw on a server.

There you go, your own private social network in under a week.


This. I tried the exact same thing for a family network a couple of years ago (but the network did not hate Facebook intensely, so it was a bit of an uphill battle). Before I could get them all fully on board, I got sucked into some large gigs so no business resulted in the end. I still hope to revive it some day.


Actually I spent 5 years building a social networking platform to let people design and host their own social networks and apps. And no it isn't as simple as just Wordpress + BuddyPress.

https://qbix.com/platform


Awesome! I found buddypress through https://github.com/Kickball/awesome-selfhosted, perhaps you could have your project added there!


How active is it with your friends?


High activity when planning events or gaming sessions, low otherwise. We already did all of our talking and planning in a Facebook group, so this allow us to expand on that without the privacy issues. The Facebook group itself was similar in activity.


There is still convenient Google+ with its Communities.

Or you can make your own social network with Diaspora* (https://diasporafoundation.org) or GNU Social (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11062757)


The only problem is that it takes a group of people to make the move, you can't go their without convincing your friends to tag along


> No ads, no political spam, no viral garbage, no pictures of what your friend ate for dinner, no psychologically manipulative algorithms. Just people talking to their friends and posting pictures of themselves hanging out.

> If someone made a new social network like that, I'd sign up today.

Get into the world of finstas, that's basically the concept behind them.

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/19/fashion/instagram-finstag...


If someone made a new social network like that, I'd sign up today

Lots of people have. There was for example Ello a couple of years ago. Me and many of my Facebook friends created accounts, used it for a couple of weeks and slowly kind of ended up back on facebook. Apparently no one else stuck around either since Ello seems to have turned itself into something else.


Ello didn't feel like a personal space for me. Its sleek design screams 'present yourself, show me what you've got'.


The picture of what your friend ate for dinner sticks out as something that doesn't belong here. That actually _is_ a means of connecting directly with our friends/family. The other things you list are not. I'd still signup, even if I saw food pics occasionally.


You cannot exactly enforce the nice-ities though. You would have to structure the community around using your service like that, but that still can be broken down.

Manipulative algorithms can be taken out though, I suppose.


It was like MySpace but without the shitty customisation, and without the need to pick a list of your top friends.


you know you can sort your newsfeed to "most recent" right? And mute your obnoxious friends from appearing in your newsfeed. You can also hide posts from particular websites from appearing on your newsfeed.

In a short period of time, that would solve 90% of your problems.


> you know you can sort your newsfeed to "most recent" right?

Just looked through settings and wasn't able to find anything for order of posts in news feed.

> And mute your obnoxious friends from appearing in your newsfeed.

Yep this is pretty easy to do.

> You can also hide posts from particular websites from appearing on your newsfeed.

This isn't helpful since you cannot block the entire class of "transitive" posts. Eg a Honda ad because a friend of mine liked a Honda page. Sure I can block Honda. But Toyota or Volkswagen can still show up until I block them individually...


It's not in settings, it's in the News Feed toggle on the top of the navigation pane on the top LHS of the home page.

And I think after a couple weeks hiding posts you'll significantly reduce the variety of content hitting your newsfeed.


> no pictures of what your friend ate for dinner

Posting pictures of your food should be a criminal offence. Nothing too serious, just a couple of years in prison or something.


I can't help but laugh when I imagine what this would've looked like before the internet existed.

"Look, honey, we got something in the mail from Katie and John! It's... oh... just a bunch of pictures of food. That's odd."

Meanwhile Katie and John are still at home, furiously stuffing envelopes with the same food pictures so they can send one to everybody in their address book.



I always figured photos of cocktails and food were a standard part of the after vacation slideshow you'd invite your friends to. A few once a year isn't bad. People complained about those slideshows also though.


I hear you but I actually enjoy some pictures of peoples food, e.g. when my brother has made a nice wok.

I also miss the "going to the beach", "this was a nice day" etc.

I don't miss "join me on farmville", "1000 reasons why Trump and/or Hillary are dumb" etc.


I just miss the pokes. Remember when it was fun?

I deleted the app last year. Kept the account because as far as I can tell it's the same difference and I haven't summoned the strength to go retrieve my photos yet. Haven't missed it at all. Meanwhile my wife is increasingly addicted...


If you made a nice meal, yeah, show it off. If you bought a nice meal, I fail to see the point in showing it off, unless you are specifically saying "wow, this place has great food!".


> If you bought a nice meal, I fail to see the point in showing it off, unless you are specifically saying "wow, this place has great food!".

I don't understand your comment at all. What else would you be saying when you show a picture of nice food other than "this food is great"? I'm not in the habit of posting food photos but I've never understood the hysteria around it on places like HN.


"Look at the taste that I have, in choosing this experience for myself", or "Look what I'm doing right now!"


"Look at the taste that I have, in choosing this experience for myself"

I cannot remember thinking that about others but maybe I don't follow the same people as you.

"Look what I'm doing right now!"

Isn't this just like a smaller version of Show HN?

I mean: you make something, you post it and someone else chimes in with ideas or (hopefully) constructive criticism?

Is there any reason that I cannot see why making food isn't a form of making that we can be proud of?


> Is there any reason that I cannot see why making food isn't a form of making that we can be proud of?

No, but we were talking about why people post pictures of food that they buy, not that they make.


Making something yourself is about pride of creation and ability. Some people want to show that off.


Prison costs too much. Corporal punishment would fit this crime, and besides lots of people would just volunteer to swing the cane upon hearing the phrase "posted pictures of food".


This sounds to me like nothing so much as the setup for a Milgram-esque study of just how willing people are to inflict violence upon one another for engaging in trivial but annoying behaviors like ... posting pictures of food on the internet.

Because, yeah. Caning is totally commensurate with that.


Can't you just have Facebook and only use it for the events/photos? I've got a Facebook but never use it for posting/looking at other people's posts. Every now and then I'll get an invitation to an event which is really all I use it for.


I do this as well. No app on my phone (including messenger) and I purposely only use the site in one browser on one device (Safari on my Macbook), and only check it maybe once per day. Added bonus is that Facebook isn't getting all of that tracking cookie info from me (or at least not as easily) since I don't use Safari for anything else.


I do the same thing (but more than once a day; sigh), but I still see creepy tracking ads. Recently I saw ads on FB for an item that my wife had been shopping for on a different computer. I'd be curious to know how they're making this connection — based on IP address, or using something like Drawbridge? https://www.drawbridge.com/


Oh I'm sure they've got plenty of info on me and have their ways of collecting more. I used Facebook pretty regularly from 2005 to 2013 or so, so they know stuff about me I've long since forgotten (as evidenced by looking at some of my old posts from college...yeesh, don't ever do that unless you want to be embarrassed about what the you of 10 years ago was like).


Yeah I'm just curious how they're tracking my family in real-time across devices. And geez, what a way to ruin birthday/xmas/etc presents. I expect to see a preview of my father's day gift in the sidebar any day now....


> I'm just curious how they're tracking my family in real-time across devices.

With your help? The moment you declare (or any friend declares) a relationship in the profile, they 'have' you both.


I've cut out Facebook without 99% of the hand wringing here. I just stop browsing the site.

If someone wants to talk to me I get a popup on my Messenger app on my phone, and if I get an event invite it shows up there too.

Problem solved.


Indeed. You can have a Facebook account and just... Not use it unless you need it for something. All the benefits of the 'I deleted Facebook' crowd without the downsides.


Almost all of these quitting posts just read like people coming to terms with their addiction.

Good for them, but they seem to mistake it as some sort of universal lifehack.


I'm looking forward to seeing this theme worked into n-gate's coverage of the thread next week.


> Good for them, but they seem to mistake it as some sort of universal lifehack.

Does it have to be universal to be useful? Helping 0.01% of the US Facebook userbase save 1 hour every week is still huge...


Facebook will still learn which websites you visit (provided they have the "like" widget) and what articles you read on the NYT, unless you use a good tracking blocker.

So, that's one downside, I think.


I run uBlock Origin everywhere and I rarely visit Facebook anymore. But when I do, I use a private window in a different browser.


Additionally, on macOS you can use Fluid.app to create a Facebook-only browser with separate cookies, etc. Keeps it isolated from the general web. Do the same for google apps.


That requires self control and a resilience to peer pressure, things we are encouraged to devalue for the sake of "followers".


FWIW, I've used Facebook for I think 11 years now and I've never once seen anyone refer to or even remotely care about friend count.


It's not necessarily the number of followers people obsess over, it's their validation.


This is exactly what I do. I use Facebook for a few "Close friends" that are across the world and I still like to know what they're up to.

There's a few communities that I'm in that I wouldn't even know about, event-wise, if I wasn't on Facebook. I can't imagine missing those- I'm surprised others don't use Facebook more for events.

As others have mentioned, I also use News Feed Eradicator, so I don't even see anything on Facebook, unless it's one of my close friends. It's fantastic, and my time on the site is probably less than 2 minutes/day.


I started thinking of FB more as a channel to publish notifications of content I keep on other sites, like blog entries, Flickr photos, etc. Once I started thinking of it as more of a pub/sub layer for the content I manage externally, I felt better about staying on it.


I'm a part of the local Bay Area music scene and Facebook events has basically become the standard for posting about shows. Without a Facebook I just don't hear about them.

I'm considering making a dummy account with a few friends just for the purpose of finding out about events.

Side note, does anyone know of a service that allows you to track FB events without having to be in the Facebook app? Not sure if there's an API for that.


I feel you. Facebook virtually grants a certificate of existence. It's almost unimaginable why someone that wants to play music wouldn't have a facebook presence. (Don't know if that last sentence was correct, non native here).

My point is the following: I was one day on the street and saw a flyer glued onto a wall, it looked kinda funky and hand-drawn, interesting; some DJ's were going to throw a party and spin salsa, funk, latin jazz, cumbia... And I didn't recognize any of the names or the venues, I was mildly shocked because I believed I knew the local scene pretty well.

Almost always I can contextualize a music genre/scene, and see their connections and collaborations. But this random flyer I came across was so obscure! No relations, no known names, and the mix of styles and originality was very interesting! For the first time in many years I felt again what is like to find an underground scene, which I like a lot (like when dancing drum&bass in a basement in Berlin or listening to rap in Mexico).

This is a magic that is sometimes lost in the believed omniscence and omnipresence of online/facebook. I bet people soon will want to have those kind of experience, and the new thing will be to find scenes that people don't even know about online.


I miss the old message board days where everything was really DIY and local, just a table with location and bands. People would post to some homegrown site maintained by a devoted local fan. Also miss the days of fliers!

Now I have to scroll through ads and a bunch of irrelevant "local events for you" just to find what I'm looking for.


Posted about this above, but check out the app "Events for facebook"


Deleted my facebook account in January. For me it is 100% great and do not miss it even a little.


Deleted my account 2 years ago along with Twitter's and Instagram's. It's just a better life for me now. Less stress, less anger.


Facebook and Twitter I get, but you were being angered and stressed by Instagram? It's the only social media I actively use precisely because it's not stressful or rage inducing. I'm into photography so it gives me an outlet that way (even though taking a picture with a real camera, editing it on a computer, then sending it to my phone to post on Instagram is a bit of a pain), and the annoying content from other people is very rare.

I will say, however that they've stepped up their ad insertion and display algorithm a bit recently, in a bad way, which is unfortunate. But I certainly see much less of the spammy ideological content that I do on Facebook and Twitter.


I feel that pretenses of the life you pretend to live are more evident on Instagram than anywhere else -- the site is all about portraying yourself in the best light possible, or at least, that is how many of the people I know seem to use it. Having not had it for a couple years, I can safely say that when I do want to be on it again, it's usually just a play on the part of my ego that wants some attention from the like notifications. I can't divorce my use of Instagram from my inner cravings of external validation. It can't just be about what I'm posting, it's always about something that's me me me. This may be true of all interactions, I don't know, but when it's systematically in front of me on my phone every waking hour, it becomes problematic.

In other words, most of what I saw on Instagram was people trying to get followers and likes, trying to be like some "adventure photographer", whatever the hell that means. The feeds became clogged with homogenous shots of feet over the same beaches, curving roads, VW vans, etc. It became about the aesthetic you show, rather than the person and events that you are.


>In other words, most of what I saw on Instagram was people trying to get followers and likes, trying to be like some "adventure photographer", whatever the hell that means. The feeds became clogged with homogenous shots of feet over the same beaches, curving roads, VW vans, etc.

That still happens, and it can be a pain, but it's also easy to ignore.

And I do play the hashtag game; not to garner followers or likes but for the rare occasion where another photographer with a similar interest in "real photography" happens to be checking that same hashtag and comes across my photos, or vice versa.

On average I'm getting about 100 likes and 4 or 5 followers per shot. A lot of that is noise, but some of them are real photographers with an interest in the hobby and it's nice to meet people based solely on their photos. I've had conversations with some folks on Instagram local to me suggesting what parks I should shoot at, and I've chatted with others different film development techniques, and so on. For those situations it's worth it.

I will say that Instagram's saving grace is that it's hard to blindly share content since it requires a separate app currently. If that ever changes, and it probably will, I'll be gone.

I should add that very few of the people I follow post anything about themselves. Lazy selfies get them unfollowed. I'm in it because it's a more active photographer community than flickr/500px/whatever.


Hey it depends who you're following. For designers, artists and wannabe bakers, it's a goldmine of inspiration. Cat accounts are good for the soul too ;)

Same social media rule applies: if you don't like it, just unfollow. I'd argue that it's easier to do that on IG than FB as it feels less personal.


"Hey all, look at this amazing new thing I just got (for free from the company that sponsors me that I don't disclose)!" Maybe it's the same on the rest, but it seems there's a larger portion of it on Instagram.


Maybe I'm unique in my usage of Instagram but I only follow people I know in real life or other photographers, amateur or otherwise, and they typically aren't posting sponsored content. I've only ever seen one person post sponsored content out of hundreds I follow, and it was pretty easy to unfollow them.


That's likely the difference. My wife follows people with similar interests, rather than only people she knows, so undoubtedly sees more of it.


Unfortunately it does happen. One of my coworker's mothers writes a food blog and he asked if she could follow me because she likes my photos. I said of course, and that she didn't need my permission. I followed her back out of courtesy, but then I started seeing occasional posts about "Certified Angus Steaks" and said nope. Good for her for getting money, I guess, but I don't want any of that.


I follow a lot of random people I don't know on Ig, but I actively unfollow accounts that start posting sponsored content.


I see 0 ads on Instagram. When it first started, I just blocked and reported every account that posted an advert. And I marked every advert as uninteresting (or whatever the function was called) and I haven't seen an Instagram ad in over a year.


The same was true for me until about a week or two ago. These aren't sponsored content that I'm seeing -- it's actual Instagram ads, and I've been marking every one as irrelevant with the hope (in vain) that eventually they'll go away.


I wonder why people are so extremist. Just like 'mobile phones are the new cigarette' you don't need to throw them out. You just need to know where to draw the line.


I deleted the main FB app from my phone and use the Events app which works really well as a standalone product.

I also use Google photos, which has all of my photos, not just the ones I've uploaded to Facebook. Plus the search is great.

Maybe these suggestions could help your problem and clear that 10%.


I'm not sure why it has to be deactivated though. I've had a FB account for a long time and maybe check it once every few days if that. My main use case is to upload shared photos. I would prefer everyone use Google Photos, but that hasn't happened yet.


for whatever reason, I have a mental hang up about just checking once every few days or something. I'm incapable ofjust ignoring communications that I get. De-activating is much, much simpler for me.


Why would you want everyone to just move from one walled garden to another?


What's the downside to keeping the account but just not posting to it or checking your news feed? That's roughly what I do, and so can still use it for events and such. I also have it set to email me if my wife or my mom posts a picture. (My mom posts about once a month, and it's more often than not a picture of one of my kids... ;) ) Anyone else I care about (and only the people I really care about) I have on Instagram, which I check every day. But my Facebook feed I view approximately never.


I had the same problem, but I found out there is an app "Events for facebook," It means less endless scrolling for me. And then I use the messenger app to communicate with some friends.

So far it's been about a week, and it's been 90% great, and 10% meh. I just logged out of facebook on all of my devices and don't save the password, so it at least makes me think before putting in my password. The meh part is the services I use "login with facebook" on, but it's not that big of a deal.


this has been my experience almost exactly. It's not my nature to be part of an online community where I don't actively participate, so the idea of having a facebook account which I "never check" wasn't appealing to me at all.

And while my reasoning was less idealistic than Gruber's, I think he makes a bunch of great points and I very much agree with the spirit of his post.


I haven't deactivated my Facebook but I've used it much less over the past few years. Same for Instagram. I've actually moved back to MMS, WhatsApp, and email to communicate with people I care about the most. I end up using Google Photos to host and quickly share individual and groups of photos. It's not perfect but does the trick for the most part.


> It's great for all the obvious reasons (less timesuck, less compulsion to endlessly scroll your life away, no notification interruptions). The frustrations are real, though. Primarily it's around events and photos.

I was almost done with college when FB suddenly became a cross-generational phenomenon and started being about more than photo sharing and event planning; I still fondly remember those days.

The one advantage I would add is the rare occasion when someone needs to get in touch with me easily: I've had extended family who lives on the other side of the world get in touch with me through FB on short notice when they were visiting my city. I could definitely imagine that some of these cases wouldn't have happened without Facebook, since they would be required to 1) know that I happened to live in this city and 2) go through probably three separate people across different continents to get my phone number. This is infinitely harder than searching their FB friends for my city and going "oh dang! wutbrodo lives there now? I haven't seen him since we were kids, I should reach out!".

That being said, all of the 90% downsides of keeping Facebook are, to some extent, within your control. I won't pretend that I'm congenitally immune to them, but all it took was a little discipline and a little time and it really wasn't that difficult to avoid the timesuck/endless scrolling/notification issues.

I've never really been able to relate to the idea of completely deactivating Facebook and losing the 10% benefits, with the possible exception of the few people who have a completely insurmountable psychological compulsion to use Facebook. This is especially true because of all of the levels of FB exposure you can have without going all-or-nothing: Chrome extensions to remove the newsfeed, disabling notifications on your phone, only visiting FB on the web and not the app, etc.


I deleted my Facebook account in 2011 as I was graduating high school. I do not miss it one bit, and I am glad I do not have an account. Although, I have missed out on social events. However, if someone​ is not going to go out of there way to invite me because I don't have a FB, I probably don't want to be a going anyways.


About the fact that you miss events, I found the following website really useful: http://carpediem.cd/ (no https access)

They scrape Facebook events, allowing you to browse them without a Facebook account. It's not perfect but it's better than nothing.


Virtually all of the Facebook events I care about are private events among friends. Don't see how this site is useful for those.


What you miss are pretty much the only things I do on FB anymore. I'm just not sure why you had to deactivate to make that happen. I guess it has never sucked me in and wasted my day because I just don't find browsing FB very interesting.


I have an account for a long time now, because some groups, people and activities require it. But I've disabled notifications for a long time, and rarely log in except to check on events. I don't see a reason to deactivate it complete.

I have to say though, FB tries really hard to reactivate your notifications. It's especially annoying when it hooks into your mobile Chrome browser notifications (took me a while to figure that out!). And the fact it can't be uninstalled on Samsung devices - at least you don't have to login.


I have found a nice middle ground by only checking it every week or so via a web browser and installing the News Feed Eradicator Chrome extension.


A lot depends on the geographic distribution of your friend network. Many of my closest friends live on the other side of the country. Not to mention that I got to know them through FB.

I'm really not that worried about it any more. FB is gufe, but so was AOL. It will in turn be disrupted by a future innovation.


I kept my Facebook account but deleted all my friends and most of my personal content (and locked down the privacy settings to prevent people from finding me). This lets me access content on Facebook without using it as a social network. I did this years ago and I have no regrets.


> It's great for all the obvious reasons (less timesuck, less compulsion to endlessly scroll your life away, no notification interruptions).

You're not able to exercise self control? I have Facebook, but I never use it apart from the events and Messenger for chatting with certain friends.


> You're not able to exercise self control?

Ability to exercise self-control most likely varies significantly among people. It's not like the ability to breath. Also Facebook is explicitly designed to "engage" people, meaning that a piece of information shared on Facebook is going to engage a larger fraction of people than that same piece of information in ... a newspaper (for example). Engagement/attention hacking is a different issue than the walled-garden issue for the most part though.


I just removed the app from my phone. That way I can still access stuff my PC and get invites and see photos but I do it far less often. Saves lots of time but still allowing me to connect with others or see photos.


Been 4-5 years without Facebook. Life for me has definitely been better than without. Same goes with Instagram. Something toxic about both of these platforms.


Just install Todobook (or even News Feed Eradicator) and you'll be fine. I check my FB usage using TimeYourWeb and it fell down by 90% since then.


There's the half way option of having a Facebook and only using it for invites/events, which is what I do for the most part.


If u can stop using facebook when u deactivate it, cant u just not deactivate it, and use it for the 10% to stop ur frustration?

I treat facebook like i treat my phone. Its a tool. Not a way of life. Been on the internet since '95, back when i was at school i was the only one who would spend hours on the computer, they called us nerds. Now its the opposite, i use the computer at work everyday, and when im home, i stay away from it, my phone, tv, as much as possible and call everyone else geeks who need to stop obsessing over there hands (cause they dont know about computers, they just use them)


Did a wormhole temporarily merge HN with yahoo answers?


I'm baffled by some of the comments here... Is it so difficult for you guys to just have a facebook account that you don't check in on? You can still sign into random sites that require it that way, arrange meetups, etc but without 'scrolling your life away'

I expect people like me who spend most of their day on the computer to have at least as much digital self discipline as I have, but perhaps that's a poor assumption to make...


Seems like my feed encourages me to do less scrolling than ever. My feed has become a haven for linked and sponsored content, and there's the occasional spatter of original content from friends. I don't see a lot of the stuff I actually care about (photos of friends, their newborns, lengthy posts, etc.) without going straight to their pages.

I swear some of these personal posts never hit my home feed, they just get buried. This is odd as the personal stuff is the content I'm most likely to interact with. This is doubly confounding because the posts I don't see usually have a lot interaction among my close network, especially compared to the noise that's topping my feed.

More and more I find myself going directly to a handful of profiles and spending less time on FB because of the feed's noise.


I think it's Facebook trying to cover that actual interest in the site and keeping it alive by the users themselves is actually dwindling. I recently unliked a lot of old pages I didn't want to see anymore and it was amazing how much it tried to figure out what I liked, rather than just show me what my friends posted. Why? Because my friends didn't post nearly as often enough to keep my timeline full of news. I have ~80 friends/acquaintances there, everyone from adults to kids, various jobs and interests, personalities.

Facebook is doing well as an ad platform to keep the revenue up but I'm not sure Facebook is honestly... doing well, you know?

I've seen them recently try to be Snapchat with the stories. I haven't seen one person use them yet despite being active on Snapchat. Also stickers, the new attention grabbing personal status posts with huge text, etc. It's as if they are lately trying to make people post more personal status updates on the site?

Is it possible there's a social network ad bubble that, once it pops when the realization of how much attention people actually pay on that site rather than just mindlessly scroll through like a heroin addict sinks in, will cause their stock to crash? I honestly don't think Facebook is one a nice trajectory either for us or for them.


This is my biggest problem with Facebook, as of late. It's all advertisements, and sponsored stories. My friends don't spam me with pictures of food, but the signal-to-noise ratio is too damn low.



I agree! I also use this.

I tweet and have all tweets go to facebook automatically. So people will engage sometimes with those posts. Other than that, I only use facebook for certian facebook groups.


This! Facebook is a great forum/chatroom if you use it that. Put your actual feeds in an RSS reader.


> and sponsored content

FB without an ad-blocker is simply unreadable.


I deactivated my Facebook mostly because I have a hard time controlling myself. It's not the only thing I find difficult to control in the digital realm (I'm still a regular on Reddit and here), but I've found I intellectually get a lot more out of using Reddit and HN over Facebook. Maybe its confirmation bias, but I come from a family with addictive tendencies and even though I don't have a problem with substances, I definitely see it show up in my life with digital products.

I also found that spending more time on Facebook made me focus on the wrong things in life. I spent a lot of time thinking about what photos I wanted to post to garner interest (in reality few look or care about them). I spent a lot of time checking in on people that I haven't talked to in years, which satisfies my interest without actually ever communicating with them. It just became sort of depressing after a while. It's low effort to become friends with someone on Facebook, and I don't think its healthy to be constantly reminded of these connections you've made in life through various events and never actively continue in real life. You just spend a lot of time thinking about the past or what could have been. I was expending so much energy and getting back nothing but fleeting dopamine hits.

I truly believe I'm better off without it, despite the difficulty coordinating events with people and being invited to things. I communicate more with people in real life now. I find I am more motivated to text or call people to check in. I also use other communication services more because I'm not satisfying my social needs through passive consumption anymore.


>"I'm baffled by some of the comments here... Is it so difficult for you guys to just have a facebook account that you don't check in on? You can still sign into random sites that require it that way, arrange meetups, etc but without 'scrolling your life away'"

Some of the smartest people in the world work hard to make the site more addictive. You could just as easily say, "Is it so difficult for you to just have a needle and heroin on your desk and shoot up?"

It might be easy for you or me to have it there within reach, but for those who have already had their mental pathways significantly affected by the daily or more frequent hits of dopamine, it's not easy at all.


     >Some of the smartest people in the world work hard to make the site more addictive.
This is a truth most people seem naively oblivious to, they seem to have this idea in their mind that they are immune to persuasion. It is simply not the case, if you are human you are suceptible to unconscious and conscious persuasion.

A famous result concerning this is the 1984 book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robart Cialdini.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28815.Influence


* Facebook now requires I send them a copy of my ID when I try to open an account. I don't want to facilitate them.

* I assume tracking becomes more aggressive when you have an account. For instance, Facebook could connect you to everyone viewing your account page to create a shadow social network for you.

* Skirting real-name policy is against TOS. Using real-name opens you up to crawlers from governments, trolls, collection agencies, and data brokers/analytics companies. Besides governments can request all your data. You also have another account to keep separate /track of, when doing proper OPSEC.

* Even if for you your account is just used once a month, people you are connected to may have different expectations ("you have an account, why didn't you reply?"), and you have to micro-manage this.

* You miss events, while still having an account or invite, and it is bad social form.

* You are forced to combat social persuasion tactics: Facebook is carefully design to maximize clicks and time-on-site. It's like trying to quit drinking while going to the bar once a week: your determination is actively attacked.

* People can tag your account in photos. A high school teacher I know got in trouble because she was tagged in a photo where people around her were drinking alcohol.


This is a good question. I bet some people can control their degree of engagement of with FB without deactivating. And I think I, too, could achieve this with some effort.

But my experience has been that peak FB enjoyment is simply not having FB. Everything about FB feels toxic to me, not just the service itself but its pervasive tendrils throughout the web. Complete, total exclusion of FB and related services—including social sign on, etc—has really improved my QOL.


assumption is the mother of all fuckups...

that aside, i deleted my facebook account over seven years ago and even though my real life friends give me some grief over that every now and again, i haven't missed it a single day.

apart from the couple of live streamed murders and abuse cases, there's no actual news on there which isn't accessible through another site with public access. and if i long for cat pictures or funny videos there's always imgur and youtube.

facebook, like many other "social media" sites, is more a habit than a necessity and, as far as i'm concerned, highly overrated in it's purpose


My problem with an idle Facebook account is at least twofold: my activity is still being tracked against my will, and out of principle I refuse to support an organization which so blatantly disregards personal space.


Your activity is being tracked irrespective of whether or not you have a Facebook account. Google and Facebook will track you anyway and then correlate your browsing patterns with those of other people (about whom they know more) and infer everything there is to know about you.


That doesn't mean we should just roll over and give it all to them.

You're not obliged to hand this data over when you don't use their services, and ideally, they wouldn't track you if you didn't want to be tracked, but facebook is pretty close to being ethically void, so they'll do whatever scummy thing they want, so you should by all means make it as difficult as possible for them to get data on you.


>> That doesn't mean we should just roll over and give it all to them.

Unless you run an ad blocker and/or EFF Privacy Badger, that's exactly what you're doing. Your consent is not required. There are literally _dozens_ of companies that do this, Facebook and Google are just two of them. There were some initiatives in some states to apply a stiff tax to companies that trade in user data, but I don't know if they went anywhere. That's one tax I'd be in favor of, even though I'm not in favor of more taxes in general.


> Your consent is not required.

The point is that regardless of whether or not consent is required, it's a question of principle to not give consent (and personally I do use LibreJS and the other various tools to improve the shitty state of affairs).

Companies acting unethically shouldn't be given extra leeway to act even more unethically.


At least with Facebook I’ve blocked their tracking bugs with Ghostery.


> I refuse to support an organization which so blatantly disregards personal space.

I suppose you have no cell phone and live in a place with no government then, because Facebook can't hold a candle to telcos and governments when it comes to disregarding your personal space.


Some forms of intrusion are more difficult to avoid than others; obviously that doesn't make it irrational to avoid as much as you realistically can.

Also, Facebook holds a significantly broader type of information than uncle Sam or T-Mobile. And Facebook also provides an avoidable vector for government surveillance. Analogy: no machine is totally secure, that doesn't mean we give up, turn off all security software and stop patching exploits.


Pretty sure protecting your personal space is the government's job. At least in the US. Not saying they are doing a good job in particular, but it's in the mission statement.


People have to pick their battles based on their resources and level of concern. While the tracking that you bring up is important to keep in mind, its existence does not justify that kind of nefarious privacy invasion that Facebook operates as part of its business plan.


Mine is even more simplistic. I lack self control. With an account, even a deactivated one, I've been guilty of logging back in at 2 AM on a Wednesday morning just to stalk an old acquaintance from high school.


Adding to this: If you have an idle Facebook account, people will use it to invite you to events and tag you in photos, so Facebook will have a much better idea of who you're interacting with and when offline.


Sign out of Facebook and delete the cookie. You should be fine after that.


I'm sure Facebook will still track you (this applies even if you don't have a Facebook account). You'd need to block their domain and any ad domains that may be related. (Edit: Also mentioned here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14463127)


I guess I should have clarified that deleting the cookie and staying signed out is about the same as not having a Facebook account.

Even if you block them 100% online, as soon as you use a credit card or loyalty card, you are letting them track you again.


Deleting cookies isn't enough anymore to prevent tracking. Facebook knows your home IP address, your browser user-agent, and likely your browser finger print. Should they care to, they don't need a cookie to connect you with data they already have about you.


I wonder if there's a good way to get around some of these problems.

In my country, and with my ISP we have dynamic IP's, so I don't have a 'home IP' as such. Browser user agent's are pretty easy to spoof/mock/etc. Browser fingerprinting is super hard to work around though - especially stuff like the canvas fingerprinting, because blocking it outright can also be used as a unique identifier when combined with other data.

Would it be possible to build some kind of public repository of canvas fingerprints, then whenever a site tries to build one, rather than outright blocking it, you return one of the public fingerprints from the repository. Get the repo big enough and used by enough people (especially if you could extend it out to other identifiers like fonts) and I imagine you would have a good chance of driving down one's uniqueness in a privacy conscious manner.

I'm not familiar with JS or the mechanics of how these fingerprints are generated, so I don't know if this is possible, but I imagine that if you can block them (Firefox 'Canvas Blocker' extension, you could intercept them?


I use noscript and a cookie manager (protection of wanted cookies, deletion of all others upon shortcut). I havent seen facebook tracking pixels by now, are they being used? From an img src request they could still see my IP and user agent, plus knew which site I am on, but as far as I can tell they just use script src, and that gets blocked.


You think uBlock Origin helps with that? I genuinely do not know.


I wrote an example of how to reduce privacy exposure by blocking ubiquitous domains using uBO's point-and-click "firewall" pane, and used Facebook as an example:

https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/Dynamic-filtering:-to...


There is no question that Facebook is tracking you by other means, including IP. Even non-social media companies do so.

Why, you may ask? Because mining data about the pages you visit after Facebook allows for targeted advertisement, at the very least.


I keep the experience super crappy by using fb mobile and not the app. Keeps my browsing sessions pretty short.


I do the same thing. Funny how they won't let u use direct messaging on the mobile web client anymore and force you to download the messenger app. I refuse to ha e Facebook on my phone.


I run Disa as a Messenger replacement


fwiw that's basically what I do. My account pretty much just says "I'm not active here, email me" and I only friend people who I want to show my email address. I actually visit the site every month or three, and that's about it.

But that's under protest. Facebook is super hostile to its users, but doing so makes their metrics go up, so it's gonna keep happening.


I did exactly the same thing, only I never visit. (I block FB at the router, along with other surveillance shops.)

The net is so much nicer when you block out the evil.


So do Facebook a favor and create your own shadow profile for them ? What if you were against shadow profiles in the first place ?


If you create your own shadow profile, you can sort of "Graffiti" your own shadow profile, right? Like a bunch of weird, random nonsense. Become friends with every single bot and every single bots' friends. Hell, you could help make shadows that aren't there.


Yeah, but when you stand up to snoops and crooks, you don't have to contort yourself in ways that are a.) undignified and b.) futile anyways, and c.) waste your own resources of which you have fewer than the server rooms of megacorps, so why not do that.


Yep, there is this thin line in between that requires a little bit of self discipline where everything's fine. Still, the problem is with illiterates in technical fields or general privacy that let everything go to hell. People can't control facebook in general I'll shamelessly state without citing sources.


I recently downloaded everything in my profile (which they make easy) and ran a userscript to delete everything. I still use Facebook Messenger and add friends I meet when I travel.


use mbasic.facebook.com.

So ugly and oldschool you won't miss in, unless you need to get something done there.


> I expect people like me who spend most of their day on the computer to have at least as much digital self discipline as I have, but perhaps that's a poor assumption to make...

That is a terrible assumption to make!! Why would you think that everyone thinks the same way you think?!?

I deleted my facebook and to answer your question: Yes, it was that difficult. I have tried multiple times to do what you did, just leave it alone, but I couldn't. So I deleted it, have not missed it for a second.


> Is it so difficult for you guys to just have a facebook account that you don't check in on?

Yes. Is that so difficult for you to accept? Tough shit.


You've ever been to one of those pages that embed Facebook's comment engine? Yeah, those are the worst. I did some analysis on a random page with just three Facebook comments. Requests to Facebook's servers accounted for 1.5 MB of the 2.4 MB tranfered by the ENTIRE page. 87 network requests, 35 javascript files injected and it didn't even load all the comments! (I had to click on a "Load more comments" button to load the rest of the comments.)

Why the hell do you need 37 javascript files and 1.5 MB to load three comments?

(Shameless plug to my own open source, lightweight and tracking-free comment engine alternative to Facebook, Disqus and the rest: https://github.com/adtac/commento)


Oh god, the shit where incredibly overweight pages make you click the slow "load more" buttons just to load a few more kb of text that could've been immediately shown to you for basically no extra cost drives me crazy.

And as much as facebook sucks, most web sites suck. It's amazing to me how many sites I read on my phone are basically unusable until I fall back on Safari's reader mode.

Javascript handlers that fuck up scrolling speed, tons of popups obscuring the content, just all kinds of shit. It's like the last thing the website wants you to do is actually read it. (This is probably true, from some sort of limited penny-wise, pound-foolish ad-driven perspective.)


Those "show more" buttons aren't about not loading text--they bring the ads below the content into your viewport sooner. The content is there the whole time.


Just tested with facebook comments and this seems to not be true. I cut the internet and tapped the "show more" and it failed to display.

It didn't even make sense from a layout perspective. It was a comment with one reply, and in place of the reply, was text that said, "show one reply".

Maybe they're doing it to drive analytics.


Design for Time Well Spent http://www.timewellspent.io/


Pretty inaccurate copy, claiming Google doesn't make money off your attention when they mainly subsist off ad revenue.


I think this is where Google's AMP succeeds. As much as people don't want to be in Google's walled garden and for them to destroy the open web, they have made visiting websites and reading articles much more pleasant. Their incredible engineering talent has done a great job tackling the problems you mentioned.


AMP does do an excellent job of showing just how slow many normal pages are. But even an old-fashioned web-page will load very quickly if designed to a similar visual style as AMP! I'd imagine that with HTTP/2 this should be even faster.

Other things about AMP are pretty annoying to me -- the URL getting hijacked, the way on mobile safari the URL bar never shrinks when scrolling (how do they even break that?), and the ribbon with the fake URL bar that keeps popping in and out of view as you scroll.

You think Google basically replacing the entire web for news sites because their sites are so shitty might encourage them to focus more on basic usability and speed, but so far, no...


I prefer to use Safari's Reader Mode. Why shouldn't we just have native support for that on all other major browsers (looking at Chrome).


There are sites that have a "Load Comments" button and the comments are already loaded, embedded in the page! All the button does is trigger a bit of javascript to populate a previously-hidden div.


Not to hard to understand, i think, its bureaucracy, incremental changes and not dealing with the technical debt from the changes, having a farm of coders that just need to check off the that requirements were met.

Now add a continuous stream of revenue and the only people that notice or care are technically oriented people.


Tangentially related: I don't mind the bells and whistles (such as bloated commenting systems) on desktop where my machine has resources to waste, but I wish more news sites made available a bare-bones, text-only version of their web site for browsing on mobile (e.g., http://thin.npr.org/).


Aside from the bureaucratic inertia that all large groups ultimately accumulate have you ever thought that this is by design? Facebook investing resources into really polishing and optimizing the web experience of comments doesn't really get people to use Facebook more. What they really want is for you to post your content, comment on it, and share it all from within the Facebook, and ideally from a highly-optimized Facebook app they completely control.

Facebook Comments aren't designed to be a great experience. They're designed to funnel users into Facebook's ecosystem and to get them to use Facebook more. It's a marketing tool for Facebook.


Use mbasic.facebook.com. It can access any URL the heavy webclient can and uses no JS at all.


Didn't tried it, since I don't use Facebook, but if it is as lightweight as I image, it would be very great.


I think you're underestimating the issue.

The core issue here is spam, and whether or not it's possible to make a non-centralized open source self-contained spam figthing engine is still unanswered.

I'm not going to go into details, but I invite you to read this article for some background: https://moderncrypto.org/mail-archive/messaging/2014/000780....


Disqus isn't much better. I suggest that everyone look into not loading their Disqus comments by default but loading them when a Load Comments button is clicked. I did this recently on my blog and the request count and page weight went down an amazing amount. :)


Muut (https://muut.com) is another alternative to Facebook comments.


> Requests to Facebook's servers accounted for 1.5 MB of the 2.4 MB tranfered by the ENTIRE page. 87 network requests, 35 javascript files injected and it didn't even load all the comments! (I had to click on a "Load more comments" button to load the rest of the comments.)

This is an issue for a really small segment of users. Not really a cause for concern in 2017. Especially when most of that stuff is already cached.

> Why the hell do you need 37 javascript files and 1.5 MB to load three comments?

That's oversimplifying it. You are loading 37 assets to support a social commenting platform.


> This is an issue for a really small segment of users.

Not really. I'm from India; while my home network connection is pretty good, when I'm travelling anywhere outside the metros, the mobile network speed is abysmal. However quite a few news outlets employ Facebook's comment system. You can imagine what a nightmare it'll be for users to load all that with a 2G connection.

> You are loading 37 assets to support a social commenting platform.

37 Javascript files out of which, I'm willing to bet, most are tracking agents employing every trick in the book to record all activity. Wasn't there a recent article that discovered that FB continuously sent home the position of your cursor when you're scrolling through your newsfeed so that they can place ads better?


Your experience on 2G networks is already degraded; removing an asynchronous comment system will not magically fix it or make it better.

> 37 Javascript files out of which, I'm willing to bet, most are tracking agents employing every trick in the book to record all activit

You would lose that bet.


My solution is much easier. I block all known FB IPs via provisioning rules on my phone, and never have to see (or pay for) any of that crap.


You're being downvoted because a large segment of HN is engineers who prefer sites like http://motherfuckingwebsite.com and http://evenbettermotherfucking.website

Basically, what it comes down to is that if all 37 requests are done in parallel, then you're only loading the page as slowly as the slowest. Sadly, this is rarely the case. Most browsers will only make 6 concurrent requests from a server, which you can see in Firefox via the about:config page and the network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server. Worse, some of that JS is probably downloading more JS, which means that you will have multiple requests going out.

On mobile, this means you're running 8-30 second delays for each "group" of requests, especially if you have poor reception. Good news is that after that initial latency, the actual transfer should go fairly fast.

On the other hand, a social commenting program should need at a minimum 1 JS file, 1 CSS file, 1 for the actual data (3 comment texts, 3 base64 encoded profile pics at a small resolution). So FB is running at ~30x the optimum (87 assets, of which 35 are JS).

If you think it's not that big a deal, I'd suggest taking a trip abroad or just out to some smaller towns in your area, and really experience why users feel the internet has not really gotten faster since the 90s (keeping in mind users don't care about data size, they care about latency).


Agreed with everything you said except

> keeping in mind users don't care about data size, they care about latency.

Users do care about data size since there are still a lot of people on data limited contracts even in the UK which has a fairly healthy mobile market.

What people don't necessarily realise is the connection between the two, I'd quite like it if the mobile browsers had a running total of the total amount of data transferred in that tab on each new visit/refresh.

I'm a programmer and I still don't know which pages are heavy or not (given fixed bandwidth the time to interaction would be a clue but mobile internet latency is all over the map so you can't tell if it's a big site/page or just the mobile internet shitting the bed).


You are quite correct. Data caps do make users concerned with the amount of data transferred, but only post hoc, or as a proxy for latency.

Thinking about it, there's got to be a plugin for firefox/chrome that show the data size of each page. For mobile, you can install firefox which allows you to install plugins (pretty much essential for blocking ads in mobile browsing).


I use Chroma Android variant and it has the option to show inbound/outbound traffic on the status bar updated a few times per second (and finally battery state as an actual percentage) that stupid little battery picture is bloody useless (hmm, it's just below halfway, so around 45% I guess..checks 27%..bad UX).

For me that is enough, if I load a page and see it sit at 200kb/s for more than a second or two I'll often nuke the page. I have 1Gb of data on my phone package (simply don't use mobile data much, I have unlimited fiber at home and the office).


> Basically, what it comes down to is that if all 37 requests are done in parallel, then you're only loading the page as slowly as the slowest

Doesn't apply here. Facebook is using async and downgrades the experience for mobile clients.

> Most browsers will only make 6 concurrent requests from a server, which you can see in Firefox via the about:config page and the network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server.

The limitation is per host not per server.

> On mobile, this means you're running 8-30 second delays for each "group" of requests, especially if you have poor reception.

We are talking about an asynchronous implementation.

> On the other hand, a social commenting program should need at a minimum 1 JS file, 1 CSS file, 1 for the actual data (3 comment texts, 3 base64 encoded profile pics at a small resolution). So FB is running at ~30x the optimum (87 assets, of which 35 are JS).

That's the payload for the desktop clients. Furthermore, try finding a website that follows 'the optimum' standard you are describing.

> If you think it's not that big a deal, I'd suggest taking a trip abroad or just out to some smaller towns in your area, and really experience why users feel the internet has not really gotten faster since the 90s (keeping in mind users don't care about data size, they care about latency).

If you are still using 90's technology, you won't be able to consume most of the current websites.

An asynchronous widget will not be the 'breaking point,' far from it.

The scenarios you are describing will not trigger the loading of these widgets.


> Per host not per server

You are correct, but I will be a little more terse with words, per hostname (domain). There is also a max connections limit as well which is generally 10-17.

2014: http://sgdev-blog.blogspot.com/2014/01/maximum-concurrent-co...

Today: http://www.browserscope.org/?category=network&v=top


I know, it's not like huge numbers of people view web pages on low-powered devices with limited battery life connected via an unreliable, metered wireless internet connection.


> I know, it's not like huge numbers of people view web pages on low-powered devices with limited battery life connected via an unreliable, metered wireless internet connection.

Love the sarcasm. What devices are you talking about here?

Name ten popular websites that will function on low-powered devices with limited battery life connected via an unreliable, metered wireless internet connection.

Heck, give me a site that will properly work on Motorola Razr.


I posted this comment a few weeks ago, but this seems super relevant to extend the author's point. I agree that Facebook is a walled garden. But in the developed world, Facebook is just part of the internet that people use. However, in some parts of the developing world, Facebook is the only internet people use.

------

Facebook's dominance is even more pronounced in parts of the developing world. I've met people in Asia (Myanmar and Nepal) who have just accessed the internet for the first time in the past 12-24 months (through their Android smartphones). But they don't know the true internet - they only know the internet through the Facebook app. They use it like we use Google and web browsers.

To them, Facebook is the internet. They don't have email accounts. They don't use the browser. They don't search the web. I met someone in a small town who never even used the maps feature. I tried to think of what value the true internet might bring them, but when I suggested that "you can search for news and read other things", the response was that they already did that with the Facebook App.

One guy handed me his phone, so I could add myself as a friend on his Facebook. While I started typing my name, I noticed his search history... and to him, Facebook was even a substitute for what people in the USA might use Incognito mode for!

I would call Facebook their internet portal, but it's not really a portal to anything - Facebook is just the entire internet to them.

Buzzfeed (yes, Buzzfeed) did an excellent writeup of Myanmar, that mirrors what I saw there: https://www.buzzfeed.com/sheerafrenkel/fake-news-spreads-tru...

“Nobody asks, they don’t care about the email,” he said, explaining that most don’t know that creating an email address is free, and easy. “No one is using that. They have Facebook.”


Folk from Myanmar (but working in Singapore) here. People in my country, they regard Facebook as "The Internet". They walked into the mobile phone shop, they asked for "open Facebook for 3$" which comes with a FB account, followed the celebrity pages etc. They do everything you can imagine on FB.

Now there are "digital agencies" who take care of the celebrity/company FB pages, post click-bait articles, run campaigns and throw money for advertising.

I don't think these things are going to change anytime soon and I don't have an answer. So, either promote yourself, things you are doing, on FB or your online presence is mere. Just sad.


Do you think this will change overtime as people become familiar with technology and the internet?

Like do people start with Facebook and it later becomes a gateway to the internet, or do they start within only Facebook and stay within only Facebook?

I also assume people in the bigger cities (especially Yangon, but also Mandalay) use computers+the actual web for work, university and pleasure... right?


Facebook's zero rating programs are being implemented to discourage these people from ever finding out that Facebook isn't "the internet". They even went as far as to use the name "internet.org".


> Do you think this will change overtime as people become familiar with technology and the internet?

Maybe. I can't say for sure. People start with Facebook and they stay with Facebook for now. Most businesses (tech agencies or startups) are also forming around Facebook. Of course, a few companies are doing okay by doing games, marketplace, and entertainment related apps/websites. For them, a big problem is an online payment method and non-existent infrastructure. For the government, there are just more important problems for the government. Eventually, online safety and education are necessary, I think.

Yeap. I see people, especially younger folks, use laptop/desktop computers for work, school and for entertainment. The margin of mobile users are desktop users is still a big gap, I suppose.


They do this BS in every 'poor' nation. In many, they even offer 'free facebook' as a carrier perk. The sooner facebook dies, the better.


That is super depressing.


Not everything on the internet needs to be public (or part of the "open web" as the article calls it). Facebook is a fantastic place for web content that isn't meant to be public.

This idea of posting "public content" on Facebook is inherently flawed. I agree with the article on that much.

However, what I haven't figured out yet is if this is actually an evil-Facebook issue or just a user issue. Is Facebook actively encouraging this web breaking behaviour or is it a "mis-use" of what the tool originally intended (e.g., a safe place to post content/blog/etc. with privacy restrictions)?


However, what I haven't figured out yet is if this is actually an evil-Facebook issue or just a user issue.

I have a side rant that has been bubbling in me for a long time on this issue. My city's alternative weekly paper, The Dallas Observer, switched from Livefyre to Facebook's commenting system about two years ago. Livefyre was bad but the Facebook comment system is worse. With Facebook forcing "real" people accounts, comments plummeted on stories that presented alternate takes on local stories that didn't fall into line with the Dallas Morning News's traditional power structure patriarchs (mostly land developers).

The editor's suggestion to people that wanted to comment on a story without using their "real name" was to create a separate Facebook account. Un-fucking real.

My conspiracy theory is that The Dallas Observer, and probably all Village Voice Media properties, were promised better exposure in Facebook user's news feeds if they used the Facebook comment engine. Seems like a devil's bargain to me.

I put the Facebook comment system squarely in the evil-Facebook pile.


Facebook comments and real name policy are really bad IMO:

it discourages thoughtful users who happens to have dissenting views and exposes groupthink, people who care to create fake accounts as well as people who don't care.


Probably had nothing to do with them being liable for the content of comments, need for moderation, spam.


Livefyre and Disqus both have tools for moderation and spam control, probably better than Facebook since comments are the primary business of Livefyre and Disqus. Regarding contents of comments, I would think the Safe Harbor act and/or First Amendment protections would be sufficient for a news organization.

So I'm going to be generous and agree with your statement at face value, it probably did have nothing to do with any of the things you mentioned.


"Liable"? Are you an attorney? Has anyone been sued because they used Livefyre rather than FB?


> Not everything on the internet needs to be public (or part of the "open web" as the article calls it).

Indeed, and since the beginning of the web there have been ways to create private content. The old-fashioned solutions give real control to the user.

> Facebook is a fantastic place for web content that isn't meant to be public.

Not really, because: a) you have no control over the platform -- the notion of private can change on a FB's whim and there is nothing you can do -- and b) you have no control over whom your content actually reaches, FB's opaque algorithm does.

> Is Facebook actively encouraging this web breaking behaviour or is it a "mis-use" of what the tool originally intended

Can you remember FB ever complaining that people should use the open web for some of the stuff that goes on in there? I don't mean to offend you, but I would say that you have to be a bit naive to believe that they do not desire to turn the web into a walled garden under their complete control.


Yes, I don't understand why the web needs to be "open" per the original post for it to be deemed good. If FB wasn't a nasty platform and simply didn't let Google index (mooch and profit from) its content, that would be fair in my opinion. Why should I start a company and then give that content away for free to Google to profit from? It's not like Google is performing some altruistic public service. Neither is DuckDuckGo, or any other company.

FB is horrible because it nurtures psychological pathology, not because it's not open. Everything you need to know about FB can be summarized from Zuck's generous offer to let employees freeze their eggs so that instead of having kids and leading normal lives they can work for him. Dude is gross, and so is his platform.


Personally, I would be impressed with a company that provided that benefit and seriously consider it. Am I gross for finding that to be an attractive offer?

It's not as though Facebook is coercing people to do this in order to lengthen their careers. People will do it anyway due to a culture that already exists and because they want to; from that perspective, Facebook is providing a nice benefit for people who don't want to compromise their career. It's not for you to say that this decision constitutes "abnormal" behavior - its characteristic of a lot of peoples' rational career optimization.

I'm not claiming it's altruistic, but I am claiming it's a poor heuristic for judging a company.


I'm sorry. I mean that Facebook could provide more lifestyle benefits and corporate culture in which an employee would not be compromising their career or need to career optimize around family planning opportunities. Maybe this is too utopian to expect.


Facebook in fact is engaged in web breaking behavior. Look at what they recently tried to do with internet.org and Free Basics. Basically calling their walled garden the internet and giving it away for free to developing countries.


> Facebook is in fact involved in web breaking behavior.

>...internet.org and Free Basics...

Last week I met someone who spent the better part of two years in Mozambique and other parts of Africa for the Peace Corps. He spent most of his time in areas that had little to no internet access.

He used Free Basics a lot while he was there and considered it integral to his work and sanity (in his words). Based on his experience, I would consider your specific example web enabling, not web breaking. There are many people who want to connect to the internet even if it's not the open, platonic ideal that is passionately endorsed message boards like HN.

From what he told me, his alternative to using Free Basics was climbing a tree and waiting for a signal so he could send emails for work. It's not a perfect system, but it's fairly uncharitable to call it web breaking just because you don't believe one company should have control over it.


You bring up a point where facebook net helped someone.

But the longer term risks of facebook net far outweigh the help for your friend in Africa.

I don't believe one company should have control over the internet. In fact, I really really don't believe this. Attempting to be the sole gatekeeper of information in the modern world is in my estimation something that should not be allowed. Anywhere. Ever. I guess I can't blame facebook for trying to do this. But I recoil in moral disgust at the implications.


"Well, it's better than nothing" exhibits a level of resignation that essentially concedes the Internet as we knew it to whatever dominant company wants it.

As well, it literally is "web breaking" when one company has control over the entire network. This is not a matter of mere dissatisfaction with the current state of events; it's a description of the seismic shift in control.


I believe the main issue is that people use facebook as if it were the open web. People aren't posting because they want to keep their content in a silo, but rather because they don't know of / have an alternative publishing vector.

Nobody is saying don't have private silos, but I believe Gruber and co are saying don't pretend like a private silo is public, when it isn't.


I'd argue that Facebook defines content that's "public" in a way that some — perhaps many — would not, so it's a potential point of confusion. I don't consider it evil, but it certainly results in a sort of Facebook-first inclusiveness. Gruber hits on this with Facebook's intent that posts not be indexable by search engines.


This makes sense. I think it's an inherent challenge to the domain.

In Facebook's defence, there is a difference between "public" and "discoverable". They don't go out of their way to make things discoverable. That's their business and may be evil or not depending on someone's given values.

But "public" content on Facebook could potentially be seen by anyone - and that's staying true to the definition.

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