Friends, and you are my “friends:” I’m giving up on Facebook. No more status updates, no more vacation photos, no more links to interesting columns (even those I haven’t written). While I’ll leave what I’ve posted over the past eight years up for now, I will no longer participate in what has become a time-wasting farce.

Why? Facebook no longer delivers on its core value proposition: to let me quickly and easily see status updates from my friends.

FacebookFrank
Is on … isn’t on … the world may never know

In fact, Facebook has deliberately moved away from that original value for its consumers by automatically presenting its News Feed in a “top stories” order and, if one remembers to select “most recent stories” (which will automatically default back to “top stories” at some mysterious Facebook-specified point), displays them in not the promised “most recent stories” sequence, but in a bizarre and unstated most-recent-activity-on-stories order. Meaning comments on friends’ status updates by people I don’t know override more recent status updates by people I do know.

And that’s on the full web interface. The mobile and Android app interfaces are even harder to navigate and customize.

As a result, I miss timely and important personal updates as they’re pushed down by yet another inane comment on a shared promoted commercial image. Still another Facebook algorithm only shows certain of my updates to my friends, if any, apparently based on their interactions with me over time. (That’s why many didn’t know a close family member had surgery this week, a development leading to a pause in my consulting and column writing that no algorithm should be allowed to judge the importance of.)

Instead of keeping its eye on why people flocked to it in the first place, Facebook seems to have put more effort into privacy controls, which is good, and image-based distractions like video clips and larger images, which is bad. Bad because the latter obfuscate text-based status updates that might actually convey real information.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMoo_(2105540260).jpg
(Paul Holloway via Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

For a long time, the benefit (and the guilt-based rationale of “I really need to be active on Facebook if I’m to be considered digitally savvy”) outweighed the interface frustration and outright manipulation. No longer. Staying in touch with my distributed family and personal friends is what remains appealing about Facebook, but doing so means increasingly hurdling the obstacles Facebook puts in place to appeal to its paying friends — brands. Any semblance of balance is gone. As long as the tilt is away from usability, I’ll be gone, too.

It’s been repeatedly said about Facebook and other social media or free digital services that if people aren’t paying for the product, they are the product. However, even a consumer of the free expects to be given what’s promised. Facebook is failing. It has lost sight of its core deliverable. Its brand promise has been sacrificed for promises to its brands.

This head of cattle is leaving the barn before he’s driven to the chute. Which you, of course, as a Facebook friend, would never hear about either.

Comments

  • Guest

    Thank you, Frank. It takes a lot of courage to discontinue use of a web site. I salute you in your effort.

    • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

      At least as much as to comment anonymously. Ditto.

      • Guest

        Thank you, Frank. I’m a good man. Much like you opted in to have Facebook shape your social world, you have invited me to engage with and to add value to your articles. I do so with aplomb. My customers (not you; you’re the product) are satisfied.

  • http://www.cyclelogicpress.com Neil Anderson

    Wow … people really are starting to wake up. Impressive!

  • http://GrowMap.com Gail Gardner

    I wonder if families or groups of friends could get around this by greating a group they all belong to where updates of general interest are posted? Those appear to be shown to all; however, the issue of latest vs most important is still a problem even in groups.

  • clibou

    Stopped using FB 3 yrs ago after losing trust in Zuck’s ability to steer the design. Prefer Goog’s perfect offerings.

    • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

      Afraid that while Facebook is now dead to me, Google+ was never really alive (though I do maintain an account). Twitter will be my social media outlet for now, though its utility is very different than either of the others.

      • steve849

        Closed my FB account a couple of years ago. Mainly on Twitter. Plus my blog. That’s it, and it’s been fine. Google offerings seem too invasive or inconvenient.

  • Tommy Unger

    Coincidentally, I made a similar decision last week. I didn’t really even take time to think about the product reasons, but I do agree with your rationale. For me, I just don’t get any value out of Facebook. It is a free product, so I guess you get what you pay for.

    • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

      Underlying this may be a shift in emphasis at Facebook to become more of a real-time “messaging” platform, where the newest and most popular is most important (as well as one-to-one messages). That’s somewhat different than its original direction, which was to allow groups of related individuals to connect and share updates. It is their platform and free. But I’m paying with my attention and endless attempts to find workarounds to Facebook’s consumer-unfriendly decisions, and I can put that attention and time to better use. After all, they have little immediate incentive to change: More ads are served the longer it takes me to find the information I want.

  • 4theisland

    Sorry, Frank, you’re out of touch. The free add-on for Chrome, IE, and Firefox, called FB Purity (www.fbpurity.com), allows you to force the news feed to “most recent,” and allows you to filter out whatever type of post you find extraneous. It filters out “sponsored posts,” and much more. In short, it allows you to configure FB to YOUR specifications. Combined with AdBlock Plus, it makes my FB experience what *I* want it to be.

    It’s hard to believe I’m reading a post like this on Geekwire. FB Purity has been reported on widely, and reviewed extensively, in the 2-3 years it has been around, even by the Washington Post and other mass circulation media.

    • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

      If I recall correctly, it’s not the only add-on like that. And it doesn’t solve the multiple device access problem (e.g. by Android app) nor others I’ve cited. It also doesn’t address my primary point: that Facebook itself appears to have lost sight of its core value proposition.

      • 4theisland

        OK, fine. Because there is no Android version for FB Purity, I simply don’t use FB on my Android device. If I couldn’t configure FB to suit myself, it would have no value to me. But I can. And I do. I just regard it as a single-platform app. I am not in the slightest bit concerned with their “core value proposition.” I figure FB will change it at will to suit its most immediate short-term needs, because that’s what these people do.

    • Guest

      Sorry, Greg, but you’re wrong.

      I use FB Purity. It does not provide the unfiltered, chronologically ordered feed that Frank was whining about. All FB Purity does is block some ads/annoyances.

      We do not recommend FB Purity. For a soft that promises a purer Facebook interface, FB Purity’s own UI and web page are appallingly ugly and nonfunctional.

      Frank, you may continue to whine about how you’re entitled to a chron/ordered stream of your friends’ activity. Someday your socnet may discover “Google Mail,” a product which has no integral ads and which supports multiple clients with satisfactory sort options.

      • 4theisland

        Who’s Greg?

  • Forrest Corbett

    Frank, don’t blame Facebook. Blame your friends who post the worthless junk you don’t want to see. Or just get better friends.

    :D

  • Richard

    Perfect description of a stupid FB situation Frank.
    It’s what I call ‘sales prevention’ and SO iritating having to keep changing that setting.
    Personally I just keep changing the setting which sadly suits FB but this is not the most important thing in my life and I guess FB knows that.

  • John Raffetto

    Frank, you’re going about this all wrong. You need to deprioritize friends that don’t rate as newsworthy, as determined by FB’s algorithms, and priorotize those that do. Don’t you see? Facebook knows that real friendship is truly all about ‘me.’

  • Tara Bittler

    Frank, I decided a month or so ago to do the same thing. I left my Facebook account up because I have about 10 business pages I’m paid to manage on there, but I have stopped posting anything personal or even browsing what others have posted.

    I’ve found Twitter, in its odd, 140-character way, has provided me with a much better interactive experience. I’ve also (gasp) started hanging out with real people instead of just catching what’s on their timelines.

    The results? I’ve had a lot more time to do stuff, I’ve started a new business venture, and I’ve deeply strengthened a friendship that was previously just skin deep.

  • jdbt

    You’ll never guess what happens next!!!

  • robotlogic

    Congratulations Frank! What are you going do to fill all the extra time you will have? Maybe go to the gym or learn a new language?

    • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

      I thought I might start with actually talking to people again.

  • n71403

    Only Twitter is more useless than Facebook. I have tried many times to find a single good thing that is not an exaggeration of any real value in Twit. The savior of Egypt turned out to be only a few hundred tweets followed by the hoard of retweets and exaggeration. Many scientific studies on that

    Now if only we could get one on FB!

    I have yet to find a site that offers group experiences with hooks to find friends that may be lurking in the same site but different group….oh wait, that was FB idea I thought?

  • Richard Cropper

    Great article. For 3 days the newsfeed has been useless since clicking on an image down the newsfeed and clicking back off it auto refreshes the newsfeed and takes me back to the beginning. It’s like reading a book where you keep getting sent back to the first sentence. Completely broken and shows how incompetent facebook are in providing simple usability which has always been one of its selling points. Facebook for me is unusable in its current state.

  • Leon

    Are there any alternatives?

    • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

      Honestly, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are slowly becoming more alike in feature sets than different. (There was a call on The Next Web a few days after this column appeared for Twitter to establish “a Facebook-style, algorithmically filtered feed.”) It’s a race to the undifferentiated, crapified bottom as each copies features of the others, leaving users who were attracted to a particular vision of a particular service to root about in the muck for what they once prized.

Job Listings on GeekWork