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Dear Facebook: You Suck (refheap.com)
199 points by Killswitch on Nov 10, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 143 comments

Reminds me of this article from a week ago about how google maps sucked because it failed at a particular coffee shop query in SF a gentleman that happens to be a techcrunch writer did. Google Maps and Facebook are amazing services that try to guess what's more relevant to you and most of the time get it write. This in itself is a pretty amazing achievement. This is what we should be amazed at, not these few times those services get it wrong. The level of self-entitlement is high here, especially that we're talking free web services here. The day they always get it right is the day we get human like (edit: or rather god like mind reading) perfect AI, not happening any time soon guys. So in the meantime, relax and enjoy the show. Or stop using these services if they're that bad, or even better, build your own.

> The day they always get it right is the day we get human like perfect AI

I agree with the majority of your comment, but not that line. Accomplishing that feat would not be "human like perfect AI" - it'd be mind-reading. My very closest friends could probably do a better job filtering my newsfeed than Facebook, but no way they would ever get it always right.

Thanks, edited.

Some services (like Google Search) are about returning a set of results that may possibly be right. Algorithms are undoubtedly brilliant in that context. When you want a single authoritative answer the gaps in datasets become much more obvious. To answer that type of question you either need better data (with cost and privacy concerns), or more human input. There are lots of problems that algorithm centred companies are not good at solving and it is very annoying that we are so reliant on them.

Okay - you've identified one particular scenario where Facebook didn't correctly work out what was important to you. But I'm curious to to what you think "let it be natural" actually means.

We can immediately discount a naïve timeline of events. Say events will appear in the timeline when they originally happen – that's not going to work, because it's be buried within an hour or two, regardless of the importance.

Maybe events' places in the timeline could be based on when they were last "updated", as in liked, commented on etc. – that's probably more appropriate, but raises prioritisation questions. And let's say somebody catches up after a week, and comments on an older status - does everybody need to see it again?

So something more complex is required - the simple timeline's no longer appropriate, even in relatively straightforward cases, given the volume of friends that many users have. It seems pretty obvious then to build something like a friend graph, with edges weighted based on e.g. frequency of interaction and mutual friend count, and use that to weight news items. As far as I know, that's what Facebook is doing.

Personally, I do prefer the simple timeline – but that's because I've been using Facebook since it was first available at my university, and I don't have a huge friend list. But I appreciate that's probably not applicable to most users, and when I do look at my news feed, it does seem to do a pretty good job of prioritising things I'm interested in - especially if you engage a little bit and downrank/hide posts that you don't want to see.

I'll take a stab at the "let it be natural" question:

It means not placing content customers don't want in equal or more prominent positions than content that is important to them. I don't want highlighted ads inline, pushing content that I want to see down off the page (and exacerbating the naive solution you mention of displaying things in chronological order).

This is not to say that I don't agree with your correct insight on the technical difficulties, but want to add that I think part of the problem of the problem of "natural" is not just the complicated algorithm of showing relevant information, it is the fact that Facebook is prioritizing things customers don't want in that algorithm.

A better way to say what he's saying is that facebook is being too smart by half. Any reasonable algorithm should have shown him this post. It's the obvious thing to do from a simple use of the signals available, so either the algorithm is broken or there's a bug.

I have experienced the same thing, important content missing from the presented list. I actually prefer Facebook on my BlackBerry Playbook because the app is old and doesn't seem to support the ranking feature. I think their algorithm is worse than useless and they should provide an option to turn it off. I have considered getting rid of my Facebook account because people keep assuming I am aware of their posts and at least they would know that I am not.

Why not just sort by time? There is an option to do this but it automatically resets everytime you visit the site. It's annoying and they do it on purpose. They have fought against extensions which improve the sorting, and heavily pushed their own sorting system. And it does suck. I notice it is much worse than just sorting by new.

Also annoying you can't find any posts older than a few days. There isn't a page 2 or anything, the feed just stops.

Not everyone has 500 people that post regularly, and it's possible to disable people who you don't know well from being visible in your feed. There are options like "show most posts from this person" or "only important" or none at all, though they hide them.

There are other possible ways to manage large amounts of content. Google reader had a nice system where it shows you how many new things from every source and you can select the ones you want to see. Reddit lets you individually subscribe to a large number of completely different subreddits and it manages sorting by votes.

What's really funny is that one of the strongest indicators used to prioritize stories is who you comment on. I've successfully moved people over from being buried to always showing up in my feed just by commenting on their stories regularly. So him not seeing the story from his friend about her mother probably indicates he hasn't been commenting much on her stuff or her his.

I realized a while ago that they're really not trying to provide a good UX anymore. There are some complainers, but most people are locked in and mostly enjoy it. If you're smart you block people and prune your friends list wisely.

But then that damn news feed sort order keeps popping back to the default sort order... "Top Stories." It's a tiny little link; just large enough to exist. When the default is selected it just says "Sort". It's designed to be ignored. A UI anti-pattern used with intention. If they could remove it without a revolt, they surely would.

Facebook doesn't want you to have a good user experience: Facebook wants you to have a Facebook Experience. One that they control and provide, with information they get to choose, and other people get to buy. News stories are bought and sold and "Top Stories" is just another way to let them insert whatever the hell they want above the fold. That space goes to the highest bidder, or the highest generator of ad revenue, or the most viral stories they've algorithmically decided to enhance. It's a method of control designed not to improve the experience, but to forge the great machine and make it a more efficient way to guarantee a value proposition.

It's simple really. And it's not so bad, in the end. People have been complaining about TV commercials since their inception, but they're widely accepted and more valuable than ever. Facebook is just taking its place in the economic reality of media. They've grown up.

>Facebook doesn't want you to have a good user experience: Facebook wants you to have a Facebook Experience. One that they control and provide, with information they get to choose, and other people get to buy.

This. They want to control not just your experience, but your information, so they can package it up neatly and sell it. Advertisers can get both your information, but they also know how advertising -- at least on Facebook -- will be presented.

I think we're stuck in a culture of "friend scarcity". When meeting people in meat-space, you don't have the time capacity to be able to make deep, meaningful relationships with a lot of people. Facebook gives the illusion of giving you more time to engage friends on a deep level. You're not socializing in a work setting, you're chewing the fat over goofy cat pictures. You're (ostensibly) keeping up with "how are the wife and kids". And because our brains are wired to expect that to be a scarce resource, we gather as many "friends" as we can on Facebook.

It's also probably a learned response from us having gone through the early days of social networking. There just weren't as many people total on the internet back then. If there was a person you knew and they also had internet access, and they also used Facebook, it was somewhat more of a rare thing than it is today. You friended them because, again, you understood the Facebook friend to be a semi-scarce resource and human brains are hardwired to hoard scarce resources.

So now that we live in an era where sugary, salty, fatty foods and Facebook friends are no longer scarce resources, we gorge ourselves on them and have become obese as a result. "Facebook-friend-fat".

Sounds like it's time to cut out the empty calories and start exercising. Get rid of the people who post vapid shit, regardless of how well you think you know that person (how many times do we hear people make excuses for not eating better because it's uncomfortable?). And start posting better content of your own. One tends to get out what one puts in.

There are two types of social networks: the ones that everyone complains about, and the ones that no one uses.

google+ kinda sucks in that Google's trying way too hard to push everyone into it, but I actually prefer it to Facebook, if not only because the design is cleaner and I don't see as many duckface pics on my feed each day.

I bet if google tries hard enough, Google+ can be both complained about my everyone AND barely used (in any real way which a user would consider "use").

I feel that way about LinkedIn. My use of it consists exclusively of clicking "accept" on connection requests. I'm not sure I've ever used it for anything else, though presumably someone must.

That's because Facebook is the current home of the duckface crowd. Were the same people to start using Google+, you might see more duckfaces in your news feed!

Having said that, I am more confident Google would address the problem and come up with a better method of filtering duckfaces that facebook. Whether they let you toggle the 'duckface filter' feature is another issue.

>> "I don't see as many duckface pics on my feed each day."

That's your problem for friending those people, not the networks for showing you what you explicitly asked for (not duckface pics but posts from those people).

These things develop a culture though. The same friends you have on facebook may behave completely differently on a different platform.


Kinda. I have dozens of cousins with terrible politics and duck faces that I love to hang out with 2 or 3 times per year. things that get organized on Facebook. It's tough to have only digital friends that don't do duck face or push shitty politics if you also have real life friends.

I'd suggest Facebook's hide button. I have several family members I need to use Facebook to keep in touch with but they post things I have no interest in seeing. Those two clicks to hide their posts really improved me FB experience. I think it's something Facebook should make more obvious because it would improve the experience for a lot of people - particularly those with lots of 'friends' they've only met a few times or don't want to delete because of the social stigma attached.

> I don't see as many duckface pics on my feed each day

And what makes you think if as many of your Facebook friends were on Google+ (and used it as actively) you still wouldn't see "as many duckface pics" in your feed?

..second problem may be the choice of friends?..just jokin..;)

>>and I don't see as many duckface pics on my feed each day.


Google+: complained about and no one uses.

Except Google+ - which does both.

If only there were a messaging system that was A) standardized, B) available world wide, C) decentralized from the control of one corporation, D) available on every platform, D.2) with instant notification on mobile devices, and E) everyone was already signed up for.


As far as I'm concerned, the only reason people like Facebook is because the email listserv is not very discoverable. Sometimes, you want to be included in the stream by default but don't want to participate right away. An email chain is too easy to exclude people.

I use Facebook only insomuch as I have friends who use it and send me messages through it. Most of my "social" interactions through the internet are through email now, with groups of friends setup on lists so we can tune in and out as we want. It's easier to search than Facebook's past, too.

Facebook ranking posts is something that IS needed - they just need to do a better job. I bet you'd see a lot more shit if they didn't bother ordering stuff.

>> "Stop what you're doing and just let it be natural."

If they did that you would probably miss a lot more stuff. Nobody wants to have to scroll back through their timeline to catch up on the important stuff they missed, and they don't want to have to wade through a ton of crap to find the important stuff.

The problem I find is this: http://imgur.com/nEUGq6p I prefer the newsfeed to be sorted by "most recent", a chronological list of the postings. Facebook in it's infinite wisdom keeps deciding that is not the best way to consume the content and keeps reverting me back to "top stories". I think this is a more recent change, because it used to remember my selection. It's a little annoying it doesn't remember this.

I read somewhere, I think here, that they use the "temporarily switch to chronological" button as a signal to update your parameters for "top stories". They show you the chronological stuff for that session and try to do it better next time - it's not supposed to be a default mode.

I don't know anything about this in particular, but I can imagine that option is like Google's "show similar results" option. No matter how many times you click it, the default is to continue hiding results Google considers less relevant.

This has been the case for at least a year. It sucks.

You do have a point there, it just annoys me that legitimate things I want to see are never shown, like I stated in this post, my friends mother died on Thursday. I scroll my feed and see posts from Monday, but not something 3 days ago with THAT much activity? I mean me and this friend share 300+ friends... Most of the activity on that status are from mutual friends, you'd think that's something that should be shown, right? Nope. Becky hates Mondays, and Gary watered his garden in some stupid game.

>> "I scroll my feed and see posts from Monday, but not something 3 days ago with THAT much activity?"

I agree with you. I think though that Facebook probably takes into account how often most people visit the site. In Facebook time 3 days is probably quite long ago - probably over 100 posts ago for a lot of people.

You knock it off :)

Facebook is a for-profit company and you've agreed to their user agreements. They use proprietary software, they store your data, and they aren't liable to what happens to your data, much less liable for keeping you happy in exchange for you doing absolutely nothing but consume.

You aren't entitled to anything from them. Stop using it if you don't like it. Use something else or create something else. Life is not going to be served up for you on a platter without you doing anything for it, from the government, much less a large corporation which has no accountability towards you, who so blindly signed up, supported and agreed to let over all your personal content and social connections over to a for profit company. I'm confuse as to how people can feel this entitled without deserving anything due to not putting any work or ethical and moral reflection on how you use the Internet. Knock it off.

Sorry, your letter pissed me off. It pisses me off that it is #1 on Hacker News right now. Knock it off, everyone. I am a very liberal person but this sense of entitlement from middle class Internet users has to stop. It is the reflection of a society that consumes far more than in produces.

Excuse my rant.

Sounds like the author wants facebook to improve its popular posts algorithm and gave a great example of where it failed.

Very fair point, but why not just say that?

I have always loved computers and the internet.

But now I am frustrated with my use of the internet and the interconnectedness of everything. I don’t like being a node in a graph full of properties, incoming, and outgoing edges. I don’t like being inspected everyday, by the companies with the wealth to do so, like I am an anonymous bug in an experiment.

I don’t like brands anymore. Even if the companies have great people, I still loathe a brand name. It’s embedded; they spread it like an infectious disease. It pervades all spaces of the web. Of my web—my web personalized for me. They tell me what I need. I don’t tell them. Because the algorithms are smart, really, they are. But they are blind to what matters—to what matters to me.

Maybe I am the sum of my likes. Maybe my interests help them learn so they can bring me the things they think I’ll like.

It only makes it worse. Everything is too familiar, too formulaic, and all very much the same. For communication, I love the formula. Messages are sent to every different type of person you can imagine, and they can all understand perfectly well. But it is the message that is the problem. The message, as I said, is always the same. It’s a tagline, a ‘service’, and a subscription fee.

Our technology is a burden to psychology. Within our society, it is a weapon. It’s a tool. And it’s digging up and targeting you. The technology needs a divorce if it will help. It needs to divorce itself from corporate wealth, from unregulated self-interest that harms people. People are hurting and people or mourning, and people wake up in the morning with no hope for a future but keep on going because that’s what they were told to do.

I wrote this yesterday and I was so delighted to see something so similar at the top of HN this afternoon.

This is why I've started using Twitter more. All I want from my social media feed is a quick update on what my friends are doing. Twitter is simple and to the point. Facebook has evolved to a point where it's terrible for real-time communication, but it's the absolute best way to see someones history over a longer period of time. If I meet someone new I'd learn a lot more about them from their Facebook compared to their Twitter. I believe there's room for more than one social network and I think Twitter and FB have found non-competing paths.

>> "Facebook has evolved to a point where it's terrible for real-time communication"

Can't you use Facebook Messenger for that?

I'm referring to social networking. For private messaging I stick to SMS.

One to many, not one to one

Seen at 7:29 AM

I'd have to agree. Facebook is becoming the same trash that Myspace used to be a few years back. They seem to struggle even with ads. I don't know how many times I've logged into my Facebook account to see a Software Developer ad with a picture of a big ass/boobs next to the description. Their suggested posts are nothing but advertisement spam which has nothing to do with my likes and interests. Enter Google+. An entirely different experience. If anything, G+ feels more personal. Suggested posts are from users like me posting something worthwhile and interesting. My newsfeed consists of great content every single day. It seems like Facebook is already losing teens. If they don't realize that the chase for money has gone too far, they'll start dropping everyone else as well.

The root problem is not that Facebook is trying to maximize it's sustainability, or that this guy wants something for nothing, it's simply that for years, Facebook effectively set very clear expectations in the minds of users, and then stopped meeting them.

This, of course, is common with consumer web startups, where the prevailing wisdom is "grow Grow GROW!! ...and worry about monetization later". That's great only if you're gunning for a flip or acquihiring. Good to signal monetization intent, and how that might affect the experience, early. (Best to actually try monetizing early.)

I don't understand why people are "friends" with people they don't care about seeing updates on. Or why they don't ignore them. But I don't really use Facebook anymore so maybe that's not an option?

Try Google+... You choose who you want to see, and they don't have to choose to see you. Such a better way to get information you want. And circles and communities make that so much more useful.

Of course it probably helps that most of the people that spam Facebook with games they play and emotions they describe don't use Google+. Or I should say most people don't use Google+.

> Or why they don't ignore them. [...] maybe that's not an option?

It is; you can click the [V] in the corner of a post in your feed, and choose "Hide all from [username]". I'm not sure how widely known that is, though.

Facebook provides VERY similar functionality. It's the HN user base that just complains about problems instead of trying to fix them.

Social pressure. I dropped my facebook account because my wife's entire extended family expected to be able to friend me. That's 30+ accounts full of duck faces, child updates, and Farmville pings.

I find Facebook's bozo filter actually works pretty well to filter out the crap I don't care about. That shift along with a few hints of "don't show this person on my news feed" has turned my Facebook from a cesspit to something that's not a chore to browse through.

The thing is, one one hand you have people complaining about all the trivial stuff they don't want to read invading their news feed, and on the other hand you have people complaining that Facebook are filtering their news feed too heavily and they want to see EVERYTHING. It's a difficult balance to make, and I'm sure they're continually tweaking it back and forth to find an equilibrium. The filtering/ranking has also gotten a LOT better since they first introduced it, when I was reaching for the "show in chronological order" button all the time.

Anytime Facebook and Myspace get compared, I tune out immediately.

They have nothing in common, Facebook ate Myspace's lunch when it was 10 million users, this has nothing to do with what may kill a network with the entire US and 1 billion ACTIVE users. We have no idea what, if anything, will kill Facebook.

Well, yeah. It's awful. Don't use it.

But... how are we supposed to keep in touch with our friends and families???

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

I keep in touch with mine just fine without Facebook. I use my phone every now and then for actual phone calls and sometimes even meet them. In short, I do what people have been doing years before Facebook and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. But then again, what works for me doesn't have to work for everyone.

You don’t have to use Facebook like a daily newspaper. There’s nothing wrong with just using Facebook like the Yellow Pages. It’s there when you need it — if you need it.

You can't, Facebook is the only way.

Yeah, thanks for the confirmation. I never believed in this crap about email, phone, letters and personal visits (WTF?)!

What's sad is that many people will read comments like ours and not get it.

There is no reason this should be trending as #1 on HN. A quip about Facebook's algorithm not getting a post right on time in front of you - and? What's the takeaway? What are the insights?

I agree with the author, and i'd like to add privacy management to the list of things they suck at. The privacy setting experience is convoluted and not intuitive. It seems they've just continued to add new privacy features without thinking through the goals and objectives of various user-segments. Who has 60-minutes of free time to sort through all their options and nuances?

I'm still a teenager, and though I have deactivated my account for exams, Facebook has been a large part of the culture among my friends and within my school.

I maintain that the best thing about it was text posts. People had a go at being witty or relevant or informative, and it seems everywhere you go on the site these qualities are suppressed. Text posts are truncated and offer a See More button, and images and other easily digestible content are prioritised.

This has two important effects:

=> News feeds are much quicker to skim, and are much less substantial, which leaves you unsatisfied even when you've seen everything new, so you stick around. I admit this is pretty good monetising strategy on Facebook's behalf.

=> People start moving to services which imitate the fast flash of attention model promoted by the news feed. That's Snapchat, for example. I feel similarly dissatisfied finding out that Alice and Sally got fake-Facebook-married-but-really-just-BFFLs-still for the sixth time as I do seeing some guy who's not really my friend doing a random snapchat of his mock-surprised face.

It strikes me that so few of my daily interactions online make me feel in any way connected. The best ones are still just talking to people via text or chat, and frankly I feel more connected to @ryanpequin, the comic artist who tweets with brutal honesty from the other side of the world, than most of the friends I see a few times a week.

I think Facebook almost hit the nail on the head regarding what teenagers wanted. They live in highly structured communities (schools) and Facebook made it easy to keep thoughts vaguely within communities simply by showing them to people via algorithms. Unfortunately now it doesn't have the same charm, and many of the people I know feel the same. But all our friends are on it, so we stay.

What is the deal w the horizontal scrolling required to read the text on that site? "I'm a web developer" creds badly damaged if you can't present static text legibly on an iphone 4s. Didn't read the whole article, annoyed by both content and presentation. FB might suck but you aren't convincing anyone.

It's a pastebin, I posted it there because it's not covered in advertisements like pastebin.com is, and the site was built by a user in my irc channel, I'll let him know this, but in the mean time, if you want to read my rant, here's the raw text: https://www.refheap.com/ee96f4d90abd10b643cee0448/raw

Recently I was using google and facebook and despite all the whining we do, these are pretty good services. I even wrote about it[1]. Sure there is the privacy issue but cases like this post just make me angry a little. They find the tiniest error and make a very big deal about it.

[1] http://idiallo.com/blog/2013/11/privacy-aside-damn-good-serv...

Dear Nobody:

There are two kinds of people: people that do things(good or bad) and people that don't.

People that don't do anything love to criticize those that do. You will find them criticizing how bad other person dances in a party, but of course you won't find them dancing as is risky for them.

Well, yes, facebook sucks, but as the most important social network on earth, they suck less than the alternatives. If you have a better idea you are free to do something about it.

Ah yes, i am upset about the NSA, what i clearly need to do is quit bitching and found my own country.

just wondering how good a "best friend" is when you rely on facebook status updates to keep in touch with her… i might be old fashioned, but what happened with speaking to / seeing people irl?

"My 3rd cousin whom I haven't seen since a family reunion 10 years ago" so why is she in your feed to begin with?

to me this all sounds like a rant from someone blaming a website s/he's socially awkward

Because we both are on Facebook, and check it quite a bit, and despite everyone saying "just pick up a phone" Well, sometimes when I am free, she's not, or vice versa, and it's easier to just make a post on their wall and say "Hey, how's your day going?" and let them respond when they get time? Plus in her situation it's a lot easier to let everyone know that her mother had passed by posting a status on Facebook than it is to call/text every single person.

We're not teenagers, we have our own lives, we meet up when we can, not every day.

It's your own damn fault.This is what happends when you have too many useless friends on facebook.Start managing your newsfeed.

No it's not. It'll show a friend commented on something irrelevant in a public group I'm not a member of in the morning and not show the same friend broke up with their fiancee who is also a friend later that day. Removing them as a friend wouldn't have solved that. It's impossible to correctly guess the 'importance' of these types of things 100% of the time but surely they can do better than they are doing now.

As far as I can remember you can choose what updates you receive from different persons and you can also prioritize this by creating groups like "close friends",but as you said they can do better than this.

Before I ditched facebook I got really good at using 'Adblock Plus Select an element to hide'.

After my class reunion I thought to myself, 'Do I really care about Mary's crafts, Farmville, and do I need people I hate prying into my private life?'.

So I am currently facebookless, lindedinless, & twitterless and don't miss the noise for a second.

It's a very subjective article. I don't disagree totally with the sentiment behind it, but facebook is working hard pon retaining people. It surely do not want to lose users to messaging apps like WhatsApp etc., as reported by a recent article. I am sure they have the talent to bring something out new to keep people hooked.

Dear OP: you sound like a spoiled teenager. i'm not even going to read your blogpost.

Is it possible to sort my feed by # of likes or # of comments in facebook? I see "sort by top stories", but I don't think that does it. It seems like more control over sorting and filtering would help.

I feel very similar to this post. I used to enjoy browsing Facebook. I rarely bother with it other than messaging.

Twitter I have used since 2006 and still use it just as frequently as a few years ago.

Wait... You want it to to be natural? That means you would likely have never seen that post with all the likes. The likes would have been irrelevant on a chronological news feed.

Sounds like you need the Facebook 300 diet or #FB300D. Delete all but the 300 people you actually care about. I cut my users down from 900 and my feed has been a lot better.

300!? That's way too much.

how about 3, err 13 people I actually care about?

This the reason why I too hate Facebook. I've switched to Diaspora*, while being far from perfect it does at least not bury important stuff with some shady algorithm.

Not much money in dying moms unless you're an oncologist.

This is why I deleted my facebook account about 8 months ago.

Never looked back.

Dear posters that post things like this: Did you delete your account? No? You Suck. Just delete your FB account. You'll feel better.

It seems to me that the first "mother" on line 17 should be changed to "friend".

facebook? i have never been on facebook, but i happened to access my g+ 'home' page today (from another computer) and it was full... i usually don't go there it did not feel like 'home' at all...

it's funny how people rant about things they don't understand and don't even try to understand them.

getting relevant stuff on your news feed is trivially simple on facebook, you don't even need to major in anything.

on the other hand though, it looks like someone needs to create a "Facebook Manual", for the ones unable to configure their news-feeds.

I hate these kinds of posts. It's a guy who thinks he knows more than he does trying to tell the most successful social network in history how to make things 'better' for an extremely tiny sample size that he thinks is much more significant and representative. It's just so arrogant and short sighted and comes at it from such a limited perspective. That's bad enough, without it being coupled to the fact that facebook is completely free and optional and no one is forcing you to use it.

Quite the contrary: he's not telling them how to make it better.

He's telling them that intuitively it has gone from being a good experience to being a shitty one, and he provided some examples of what good was and could be.

CAN facebook cut through the noisy garbage and give people what they want again? Can they pull this off when folks have befriended people that aren't really their friends?

Perhaps not.. it's not an easy technological challenge to pull off. But it's clear that FB is focused primarily on extracting cash in the near term before the collapse of its user base, and that's putting it into a death spiral where they don't appear to be doing much to address these intuitions.

It's hard to find something more valuable, in a consumer product, than intuition.

Furthermore, it's not some super rare occurrence that a large corporation that has long departed from its in-touch startup roots forgets how to have that intuition.

For that reason alone, posts like this from individuals to large companies are valuable, and the argument that it's invalid because somehow the large corporation knows better is the opposite of true.

Damn I accidentally upvoted you before I got to the end. Facebook is not optional, you are forced to use it or be left out of a huge amount of social interaction, and it's not because Facebook is good, it's because everyone uses it.

Not to mention my college literally requires you to use it.

> you are forced to use it or be left out of a huge amount of social interaction

That is still optional.

So is basic hygiene, but you can't expect to be successful in life without that either. That may sound somewhat hyperbolic, but as Facebook increases it's reach it is becoming true.

Your personal network is often critical for finding spouses, or jobs; it can provide helping hands when things go wrong, and for most people it's a source of happiness.

For better or worse, Facebook has appropriated the personal networks of a majority of people in our society. It is possible to opt out of Facebook, just like you can opt out of society and go live in a shack in the woods.

>So is basic hygiene, but you can't expect to be successful in life without that either.

An option does not mean that something is exactly equivalent or that it does not come with side effects.

>It is possible to opt out of Facebook, just like you can opt out of society and go live in a shack in the woods.

Definitely not in a shack, definitely not on Facebook.

You, like a lot of people in the thread, see Facebook as required because 'everyone' uses it, except everyone uses it because it is required. Your own hangups or how it will be perceived by others makes you look on it as if it was required and not just something you chose to do one day.

Honestly a friend that won't interact with you unless you have a Facebook account isn't someone I would call a friend.

It's not that Facebook is required to have social interactions, but you're effectively cutting yourself off from a majority of society because it has become an expected norm. I have "real friends" that I used to talk to over the phone somewhat regularly. Facebook has taken over that network of people and now we post or chat on Facebook.

I experience that not using Facebook has positive filter effects. People that do not understand that I do not like FB are not my friends. Facebook is therefore a good knife to cut me off drivel.

If I didn't use facebook in London then I would simply miss every social invitation that I am given. Many people only use it because of this and would drop it otherwise.

so was selling yourself into bondage in the Middle Ages, after all you always had the choice to starve to death.

Depends, if you can live as a hermit, then maybe yes. But my circle of contacts for example communicate with Facebook only, and I am already a not social person, if I deleted my Facebook I would spend months before getting. Invited to a party or funeral

It's impossible to have friends that don't use facebook?

It would seem that Facebook is 'required' because you see some requirement to interact with people that won't talk to you in any other way. That is also a choice you made.

Currently what I do is move as needed to get money as needed, and the places where I ended so far everyone else as only passing through too, so new friendships don't have the chance to form.

no, of course it's not. But friendships are not something you can plan or form like that.

Deleted mine two months ago. I'd say it's absolutely optional. I still talk all the time with my friends on Twitter, Text Message, Phone, etc. And I rarely find sites that only have Facebook login.

> Not to mention my college literally requires you to use it.

How so?

I think that's very cynical to say because you could say that about the majority of the posts on this site. HN is a place for people who understand the issues/live in the tech scene to debate, discuss, and disagree with each other about issues like the article.

May be, but I always liked most of the articles posted because they bring insightful remarks. Obviously this article falls short.

Don’t whine about stupid things with Facebook. Tell us things we don’t know, that we’re not aware of, or bring powerful analysis to things that truly matter.

I hear you, but think that while the article in and of itself doesn't do or say too much; its presence and popularity here makes it into something more.

This sentiment has now been blessed by a lot of technology insiders. It's a common set of feelings, perhaps not well put but nevertheless captured something we're feeling.

FB employees: heed this warning. We your early adopters will leave if you don't fix it.

> It's a common set of feelings, perhaps not well put but nevertheless captured something we're feeling.

Exactly, sorry I'm not a great writer, I'm a programmer. :(

Here OP is not "debating". He's being aggressive and condescending.

> optional and no one is forcing you to use it.

Optional like the sites that have "sign in via facebook" and no other option?

Optional in that they track your every move from "like buttons" all over the web?

Or optional that they develop shadow profiles on users that aren't even users?

Which optional is it?

I don't care for the "it's optional" argument in general -- it's fair for users of an optional service to voice their opinion on how it could be better for them. As a developer that's something I want users to do. And I've learned to filter out tone when their tone could use a little work (or a lot, in OP's case.)

But in any case, you've failed to rebut the "it's optional" argument. None of your examples are related to OP's complaint about using the activity feed to keep up with friends.

Missing the sentence where the parent comment mentioned "using the activity feed to keep up with friends." Seems your rebut about my rebut failed, actually.

> Optional like the sites that have "sign in via facebook" and no other option?

Yes. Or are you under the impression that those sites are also not optional?

If one wants to log into a website that isn't facebook, one shouldn't be forced to have a login from a "social network" they don't use.

Shouldn't you be blaming the site for only giving you only one option? Why didn't they provide a second?

If someone wants to use a website, they should use the website. If they don't want to use the website (this includes the login mechanism) then they don't. If your belief that Facebook logins are a bad thing is widespread, people will stop only implementing Facebook logins because it's a bad business decision. Stop whining because the market doesn't agree with you.

> If someone wants to use a website, they should use the website.

…except when that website first make you use facebook.

> If your belief that Facebook logins are a bad thing is widespread, people will stop only implementing Facebook logins because it's a bad business decision.

These things are a slow process.

> Stop whining because the market doesn't agree with you.

Luckily, my "whining" (the part about the social logins that you could only argue against, my privacy points were bulletproof and spot-on) is backed up by evidence:




That's not really Facebook's fault though.

Are you sure that it isn't something somehow related to Facebook which makes those site to use Facebook login, and not, say, its own?

What is this something that forces sites to use FaceBook login and not implement their own?

People who complain about yet another login they have to use when "you can just use Facebook or Twitter to login"

That's an argument for implementing both Facebook and native logins. It's not an argument for refusing to implement native logins at all.

twitter accounts are the best near-universal logins. fast to setup, complete anonymity and easy 2 click comment signin.

I agree, but it still comes back to the same problem. Relying on another site membership. What if SiteA uses Twitter to login because they don't want to make people have yet another login account, but I don't have a Twitter account... Great, so now I have to sign up at Twitter to sign up at SiteA... Making me have to have an account at a site I don't want to have an account at, just to have an account at a site I DO want to have an account at, just because Twitter is more popular.

That's as arbitrary as saying you must have pink hair to use my website. It's a dumb decision on the companies behalf, and for that reason not a legitimate concern with reputable companies.

This is simply a discussion of quality. Optional things may still be evaluated.

>facebook is completely free and optional and no one is forcing you to use it.

First of all you should be able to complain and criticize even free services. Second Facebook is pretty much a monopoly. Everyone you know uses facebook, therefore you have to use facebook. It's not like you can just go to a different social network. It's a great example of the Network Effect (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect).

>the fact that facebook is completely free and optional and no one is forcing you to use it.

This is highly simplistic. Moxie gave a good talk a few years back that covered this idea that we have a 'choice' about using new communication technologies like smartphones, and the arguments apply just as much to social networks

Changing Threats To Privacy From Tia To Google (Blackhat 2010) by Moxie Marlinspike http://www.securitytube.net/video/1084

I've transcribed the relevant part[1]:

I think if you look at the way that people tend to organise in groups and communities, there are often informal communications networks that bind them together, that allow them to communicate, make plans, coordinate activities. If you introduce something like the GSM cellular network to this group, and if I start using it, I am subject to something that is very well known called the No Network Effect. If I am the only one with a cell phone it's really not worth very much. The value of the network is in the number of people that are connected to it and that if I'm the only one I can't really communicate with anyone.

However if I somehow manage to get everyone to start using my communications network it becomes very effective and very valuable. But there is an interesting side effect, which is that the old informal mechanisms people use to communicate and to collaborate disappear, that they are destroyed by the introduction of technology. The technology actually changes the social fabric of how people communicate and coordinate. Mobile phones, there are many obvious examples. People used to make plans, they would say: "I'll meet you on this street corner at this time on this day and, you know, we'll do something" and now people say "I'll call you when I'm getting off work" or "I'll text you" and if you don't have a mobile phone you can't really participate in this type of organisation and you begin to find yourself kind of alone. Because if I now make a choice not to be a part of this cellular network, there is sort of an interesting thing where once again I am subject to the no network effect. The network that used to exist, the informal communications channels, has been destroyed.

So yes, I made a choice to have a mobile phone, but what kind of choice did I make? I think this is sort of an interesting phenomenon. What happens is a choice is introduced; it starts as a very simple choice: the choice of whether or not to have a mobile phone, a simple piece of technology. But slowly things happen to expand the scope of that choice until eventually it's so big as to encompass not just whether you have a mobile phone or not but whether you want to be a part of society. In some ways the choice to have a mobile phone today has become not necessarily just whether you have a piece of consumer electronics in your pocket but whether or not you are even a part of society, and that's a much bigger choice. Maybe not one that we should have to make, or at least maybe one that isn't really a choice at all.

[1] originally transcribed for this thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3451313

Very interesting.

The one thing tech has kind of changed is that you can participate in social circles without necessarily having the spending power to physically participate in (the activities of) those same circles.

Having lived in developing nations and in countries with struggling economies, I find the amount of free or cheap things to do increases greatly making it really hard to be left out (due to lack of money).

So basically the 'no network effect' may be financially-based or just based on preference.

While he's right, sort of, I think the value of cellular phones, smartphones and Facebook is overblown and I also think these can also have a negative effect on your social life. Make an experiment, disconnect your smartphone for one month.

How you do that when noone you know in person lives close to you? How you do that when you are just another urban lone wolf?

> whether you want to be a part of society.

Opting out of facebook or cell phones does not mean you don't want to be part of society.

It does, when everyone else won't communicate with you when you give up those things.

For example, once a technology named call card existed, you sent those to other people houses to.invite them over. If you for example to use that, most people.won't understand, and those that do, will think you are some sort of museum crazy person.

The threads in response to you are fascinating and mystifying. I'm not sure whom to respond to, since everyone seems to be saying some variation of the same thing: that Facebook is simply a necessity of modern life. I think I'm a pretty normal, fairly technical, member of society, and I've never found that to be the case. I turned down the first stage of Facebook invites in 2006 or 2007 or whenever. Honestly, at the time, I probably thought I'd spend too much time obsessing about my ex. I work in a fairly computerized environment (a university) and I've never felt particularly hermetic. We have friends, live in a city, I have and make professional connections, etc.

I'm 37, so maybe I'm not representative, and I'm willing to believe that my life might be a little more wife-and-kids-and-job-centric than some here. But I'm honestly a bit surprised by the claims that it's impossible to live without it. I'm willing to believe it, because it seems unlikely that this many people would be so wildly exaggerating, but it's surprising all the same. What are the elements of life that I live without that folks can't even conceive of living without?

Your comments don't address the actual matter here: Facebook's filtering does a poor job of selecting what's what's interesting or notable to an individual.

Personally, I was just observing today to my girlfriend that it seems my news feed is rather sparse, mainly consisting of the same 15-20 people over and over again and few enough total posts per day that I often reach the end of posts I haven't seen. Then, when I look at the pages of actual friends I am surprised to see them posting significant things that somehow I was not presented with. I would prefer that the news feed work like twitter: show me everything, from everyone, sequentially. The choice between 'Top Stories' and 'Most Recent' isn't enough since lost recent, as noted, shows a small and poorly chosen subset of friend activity. And then, the mix is frequently updated behind the scenes in an opaque manner.

I agree. Facebook needs you to tell it which posts from friends you want to see. I've found the friend organizer really helps with that:


You're basically asked whether you want to move people into two lists: Close Friends and Acquaintances. You'll see pretty much every single action your close friends perform on Facebook, and you won't see anything from your acquaintances except the important updates (i.e., ones with lots of likes / shares / comments).

That's nice and all, but I am friends with everyone on my Facebook because whether we're best of friends and interact with each other every day, or once a year, I still want to keep up to date with them.

Its getting very annoying to see all these linkbait articles being posted to HN

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

I did not "post a linkbait article", If I wanted to post a linkbait article I would have not put it on a free, ad-less site that has zero use for me outside of it's use for everyone else... I posted it in an ad-free pastebin because I don't want it to be linkbait.

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