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How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook (umich.edu)
76 points by zachrose on Aug 25, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 27 comments

Article is generally correct ... as of 2008.

Facebook changed their strategy, though, which is why it doesn't ring quite so true today.

The key issue Cory picked up on is that FB2008 had no concept of delineation of social circles -- between actual close friends, family, people who happen to know you, folks who used to be friends ages ago, "frenemies", and people you want to keep tabs on (and vice versa). Nor did it have any concept of different social roles -- e.g. Cory's teacher example. FB2012 is still pretty crap at managing all those aspects of multivalent identity, but at least they've made a few gestures in that direction.

Meanwhile, FB2009-FB2012 picked up users on a wave of network externalities; if everyone is on FB and using it for messaging, you can't ignore it.

I have an FB account. I hate and loathe FB, but my publishers' marketing folks insist I have an FB account. "But I've got a blog that gets 10-15 thousand daily visitors!" I tell them. "But everyone's on facebook," they chant. So I also have an FB author page with about 2K folks following it (and less than half of them actively reading it), and it forces me to waste time maintaining it and tweaking my privacy settings every time FB create a new privacy leak. This annoys me, and I'm pretty sure it annoys Cory as well, because we both have public personas and the relationship someone with a public persona has with FB is somewhat different to that of J. Random Member of Public. Whether it's truly as bad for everyone else ... shrug.

What a nice looking website. There's a bit too much random whitespace above the article, but it's all very nice and clean. The width is just right. Thoughts?

Also, 2008 should definitely be in the title.

2008 should certainly be in the title, because this argument is woefully out of date. If it were right, Facebook would be well into a Friendster-like decline now.

But everybody has adapted. To my eye, it looks like a combination of better features on Facebook's part (hiding users, quiet unfriending, friend lists to control content distribution, auto-filtering of feeds to people it thinks you care about, etc); more skillful users; wider uptake of good social network etiquette; and people just getting used to the fact that everybody is on Facebook.

I look forward to the day that somebody will find a way to challenge Facebook, but I don't believe this is any longer a route.

I'm not sure what device you were using to read it, but it was far too wide for my tastes. Averaging five random lines showed a character count of 113, but that's 1.5x to 2.5x the "ideal width". That's obviously a subjective measure (heyo!), but I usually follow the "two alphabets" (52 characters) mnemonic as a guide and it seems to work well.

From Wikipedia: "The measure of a text influences legibility. Long lines are hard to read, short lines are more easily read. 45–75 characters per line are regarded as the ideal range for the measure. For multiple column setups, 40–50 characters are often preferred. 66 is sometimes considered ideal for one column setups. Generally, if the measure is wide, the leading of a text should be increased—if the measure is short, it is can safely be decreased. Reverse text, i.e. white text on black also requires more leading."( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measure_(typography) )

Also, there seems to be some kind of CSS bug hiding the "Like' button?

Haha! It reminds me the guy that wanted to fight with me all day on school, I broke his nose out of anger on a fight, he was so stupid.

Recently I made something on Internet and got a little famous, got a little press from TV or newspapers and I received invitations from all the people I had known in my life, including my biggest enemies on school like this guy or the girl that ignored me.

Some of them send me things like "I have changed, we could become friends now". Super creepy ones I tell you.

Why can't be just ignore each other ? Now that we live hundreds of miles away.

Easy, don't accept friend requests and ignore them. If they want to stalk you, take precautions.

Why hasn't this happened in the four years since it was published?

Because the entire premise is wrong

> It’s socially awkward to refuse to add someone to your friends list—but removing someone from your friends list is practically a declaration of war.

It really isn't that bad as he makes it out to be. End of discussion.

I think it's more about the fact that the addition is publicised while the removal is silent, combined with EdgeRank hiding most of your fb-friends' activity by default, hence "smoothing" the departure.

PersonYouDontCareAbout (PYDCA) adds you, you accept, he enjoys the add, a few days pass, you remove him. Because PYDCA wasn't really paying attention to you (his feed is full of other people's activity, supposedly more relevant to his interests), he doesn't notice. A few months pass, he forgets everything about you. Even if he remembers, he'll just think he never added you in the end. Even if he remembers and knows he's added you, you simply don't bump into each other so much that he might care.

What is really, really awkward is when he adds you, you do this dance, and then FB keeps reminding him every day that he should add you. FB should have a button "this guy doesn't care" and stop trying to make me look awkward.

Just after you silently remove PYDCA you also add them to the block list, and they never see you again.

I agree with the article that it is socially awkward. For now I try to beat this game by not playing - that is, leaving distant acquaintances in a perpetual unanswered request state. I realize Facebook may not let me refuse to play, forever.

The same awkwardness applies to unfollowing people you know on Twitter, especially because they could be using a service that lets them know. Except since I have to play that game, I just play it and don't worry about it. Can't say how most others play, though.

"It really isn't that bad as he makes it out to be. End of discussion."

You say that as though you'd definitively disproved the premise, instead of just saying "nuh-uh."


In case the question was not tongue-in-cheek, what's the citation for the original premise? I have trouble imagining what would be a citation for "(dis)proving" that something is socially awkward.

> You say that as though you'd definitively disproved the premise, instead of just saying "nuh-uh."

He raises an hypothesis without any evidence. As Hitchens said: Anything asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

4 years have passed since the article, Facebook haven't been affected much by the situation described therein, much less it has been "killed".

Citations are only needed when you cannot directly observe some reality for yourself. Here we can: it was a prediction, it never came off, _thus_ it was wrong. End of story.

Who said it has to happen within four years?

There's a lot of FB support in these comments, that FB has somehow solved these problems. I suppose I disagree. This article rang true to me, and it's exactly why I stopped using it, in 2012.

I can't speak for others' situations, but when I started using FB I had decided I was going to use it to maintain relationships with a select few close friends. As time went on, a few acquaintances slipped in, but I was generally turning away most friend requests.

However, I was forced to see some of these people in real life. And even though I had decided how and why I personally wanted to use FB, I don't get to personally decide how society does. And, apparently, society has decided that you add all kinds of people to FB. So I was forced to meet with people who thought, "I'm good enough to talk to in real life, but you can't add me as a friend on some software?" There's a social awkwardness that I didn't want to deal with.

I'd say it's because of inertia. The same network effect that sucks you in to FB, because most people around you expect to find you there, raises the barrier for leaving.

However, social trends are largely about perception. Imagine this: a popular musician says publicly, "Facebook is evil and lame, I'm leaving." Lots of teens say, "hey, yeah, me too. I'm a nonconformist. Facebook is lame. I'm leaving." Suddenly leaving Facebook is a cool thing to do, and the network effect is working against them.

Eventually it's like AOL or MySpace: having an active account is definitely uncool.

I think because Facebook does something very smart: they keep it jumpin'. They change things on an almost weekly basis, which everyone complains about, but it keeps them coming back even though the overall experience became sour for them years ago.

They can't keep that up forever though, people will move on. But I disagree with the idea of another site in the same mold (Friendster, MySpace, Facebook) that will move in and conveniently replace it. I think people are starting to realize those things are just a pain in the ass and will move to semi-anonymous networks like Twitter or Reddit for more stress-free entertainment.

kevin rose kinda repeats the same idea today http://kevinrose.com/the-boolean-graph

As others have pointed out, this is woefully out of date. But the core issue is that it's actually NOT hard to say no to adding someone on Facebook. Life will go on if you hurt someone's feelings (which you don't really care about as you don't really like the person anyway). JUST SAY NO to idiots you don't want to be friends with on Facebook.

For me Facebook is for old friends or solid newer friends, and family members. Work folks have the abomination that is LinkedIn to connect to me on, others can use Twitter.

Saying no is okay. Try it occasionally.

>> which lags even end-of-lifed e-mail clients like

>> Eudora for composing, reading, filtering, archiving,

>> and searching.

These words hit the mark with me. I've never found a polite way to word it so I just bite my tongue and avoid being the negative nelly but whenever someone shows me some cool new tool or website, odds on bet its missing a ton of basic functionality that I already had in the boring old pre-web 2.0 version of whatever the tool is.

We're very forgiving of this in general as consumers but it does suck a fair bit.

"So-and-so has sent you a message." This is actually not true at all. Facebook will email you about a new message and include the message content in that email. Not sure how old this article is (hate when people publish stuff online and don't include a proper date).

The unrealistic binary friend statuses are what Friendica Red is supposed to be aimed at resolving, such that it becomes something more like a set of permissions mapped to degrees of familiarity.


Well, you must admit the average age of persons using Facebook in the span of a few years went from university age to something like mid-30's or 40's. It's just not "cool" anymore.

This is definitely part of it. As generations come of "Facebook age" are they really going to want to join the same social network as their parents?

I'm in my early 20s so I was on social networks well before those of my parent's generation. Just try dodging your parents' friend requests, that never goes well...

How about the median age depends on reach on the general population?

If the general population median is mid-30s or 40s then any service that gains users in the overall society will end up with a same-ish median.

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