Improve Facebook

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Bugs and Bad Things section
Features Facebook should have section
Facebook strengths / why it won't go away section
Why some people hate Facebook section

Bugs and Bad Things:

  1. Some postings I hide from my NewsFeed, or report as spam, keep coming back. I hide them again and again, they keep coming back. This is infuriating.

  2. Showing me content that I'm not allowed to Comment on. Anything I see, I should be able to Comment on.

    The usual situation is: "your Friend Joe commented on or Liked a status by not-your-Friend George". And there's no way for me to Comment.

  3. Not giving me a way to find out WHY I'm seeing something, and maybe change things (privacy, Friends) so I don't see them any more. Every item should have a tiny "Why am I seeing this ?" button next to it, with a "Hide" option.

    Or maybe there should be a "don't filter out anything" setting for the News Feed, or a slider from "show me things I'd like" to "opposite of that", with the middle being "no filtering".

    The "Hide" feature isn't flexible enough. Often, I see an item "your Friend A shared his Friend B's photo P". I am given lots of choices for Hiding types of Posts from A, but I want to Hide all things originating from B and shared by any of my Friends, and there's no way to do that.

    After I click on "Hide this post", the message saying "okay, this post is hidden" also should say "and the category of the post was 'life event'" or whatever it was.

  4. Not giving me a good way to find very old postings, or to tag something as "keep forever" and "category X" so I can find it later.

  5. News Feed's sort order:

    Why no "show all posts in chronological order" sort mode ?

    How the heck does THIS happen ? I have almost 200 Friends, I see plenty of posts in "Top Stories" sort order, but get this when I change to "Most Recent" sort order ?

  6. Un-Friending is handled badly. If someone posts something, I Comment on it, we go back and forth for a while, then they get upset and un-Friend me, the whole thread and everything I wrote disappears from my view (because they originated the posting). This is bad; I should still have read-only access to the thread, up to the point where I was un-Friended. And I should be notified that they un-Friended me. And today my activity disappears out of my Activity Log if they un-Friend me, I think; that's wrong.

    Similar situation: I should be notified, or there should be a placeholder, if someone deletes one of my Comments on their Posting. Maybe just the text of the Comment should be displayed as "[Comment deleted by NAME]".

    Similar situation: Commenter should be notified, or there should be a placeholder, if someone deletes a Posting or Comment in a Group. Some Groups are having deletion-fights where they can't tell which Administrator is deleting some people's Postings or Comments.

    Slightly similar situation: Recently, someone deleted a Group I belonged to. Bam ! No notice, no way to retrieve any of the good postings or comments made in there, no way to access the member list so I could Friend some of those people after the Group was gone. Maybe members of a Group should be allowed to vote on whether it should be deleted ? Or maybe there should be a 3-day notice and waiting period before deletion takes effect ?

  7. Not giving me a way to turn off the Message facility. I have two email addresses, every one of my banks and credit-card companies insists on their own secure online messaging system, and now FB insists on giving me another one !

    And here's another way the Message facility sucks; they put some of your messages in a sub-mailbox and don't notify you: article by Elizabeth Weingarten. So, not only a facility I don't want in the first place, but one that makes other people think I'm ignoring them.

    And there's a third piece of Messaging, in a different place: the Spam. Have to click on Messages, then Other, scroll down to bottom of page, click on Spam, to see it.

    "Message Filtering Preferences" should have a "no filtering" option: put all Messages in my Inbox.

    There's no one-click way to delete all of the messages in the Spam or Other folder ? Have to open each message and then "delete conversation" on it ?

    Deleting a "conversation" takes too many clicks.

    What I'd like: a preference in my account, so the "New Message" button in FB becomes a "mailto:myaddress" link. And causes me to have no FB mailbox at all.

  8. Pages seem crippled.

    I have limited experience with these, only as a user not a creator, but they seem buggy and very limited. Navigating through the parts of a Page is confusing.

  9. Not giving me a way to block Question-type postings from my News Feed. That seems more like an Application to me, and one I want to block.

  10. When I try to use my Facebook credentials to log into another site, usually to comment on some news article, I get a warning that the other site will be given access to my Facebook Profile information. This is wrong; I just want to use Facebook as an identity-verifier for the other site. I should be able to pick and choose, in that spot, how little or how much I want to reveal to that other site.

    Here's what I got when I clicked on "Connect with Facebook" when trying to post a comment on a Myspace page: permissions dialog box. I should be able to un-check each big item, and sub-items.

    Even worse, but not Facebook's fault: sites that ask for permission to access info from my Facebook profile, then also require me to create a unique ID/password for their site ! Why not just use my Facebook credentials ? I usually abandon the site at that point. For example, says "create an account to post a comment OR Login with Facebook", but after clicking "Login with Facebook", it requires creating an account in cnet anyway ! Myspace did the same.

    Fortunately, you can see and revoke those permissions from outside web sites later.
    To view those sites, go to Help Center - Apps by External Developers. But all you can do there is send a message to the site, so you could ask to have the link severed. You can't see or control how much access they have.
    For more control, go to Account - Privacy Settings - Apps and Websites - Edit your settings. And it's pretty nicely done. But even there, many outside sites or applications have an all-or-nothing attitude toward your information.

    Melanie Pinola's "The 'Nuclear' Option for Total Facebook App Privacy"

  11. When I install an Application, I am giving away full access to my Facebook Profile information [not sure if I'm right about this; I've used only a couple of Apps, and I don't pretend to understand all of the Privacy settings]. This is wrong; I should be able to pick and choose how little or how much I want to reveal to that App, in detail through the sections of my Profile.

  12. Links to some web-hosting services are banned because some site hosted there in the past did something bad. Apparently there is no appeal from this, and no periodic review. This is unfair to the hosting service and other sites on the same service.

    For example, links to all sites hosted on are banned, so links to my brand-new web site are banned forever. Not fair.

  13. Apparently, Friends who are Group administrators can add me to the Group they administer without my consent or knowledge. That's just wrong.

  14. I often have very intermittent Wi-Fi access. I end up having to click "Try Again" a lot, and sometimes my Comment gets posted twice in a row. Facebook should be smart enough to prevent this: if same Comment is posted twice in a row on same Posting, say, don't record the second one.

  15. If I put a link to a web page in a Comment, often an inappropriate preview-image will be chosen from the page, sometimes the "share" image, or a hit-counter image, or some other "utility" image. Facebook should have a list of standard domains that preview-images should NOT be drawn from.

  16. This happens more and more:
    "Attachment Unavailable - This attachment may have been removed or the person who shared it may not have permission to share it with you."

    The most common cause seems to be when a user posts a link to a web page, and then the owner of the page deletes the page. Usually happens with a blog posting, or a news article. And in that case, the error message is misleading. It leads people to think Facebook is screwing up privacy settings somehow.

    The various error cases should be figured out, and better messages given for each case.

  17. The "Report" feature is too limited:
    There should be a way to report blatant violations of Facebook's terms of service. For example, someone posted a reference to this Document in a Group I belong to (I have removed the specific names):
    My avatars have received far more attention on the ABC group than they deserve. Nevertheless, I am now providing this group with their history and my comments. Although I do not feel any same-sex attraction, I am interested in homosexuality because it is a controversial issue - a very important controversial issue! But, Facebook already has many pages for and against homosexual behavior. So, to do something different, I started a comedy page about homosexuality. It provides people, who feel anxious about homosexuality, with comic relief. Then, I created the avatars, who are the ex-gay Arian Christians (not Aryan racists) DEF and GHI, the gay Trinitarian, JKL, and the gay atheist, MNO, to banter about homosexuality. Incidentally, to amuse PQR and her cats, ..., I created STU (the good black cat). Because I want to amuse both gay-positive and gayness-negative people with my FB page, I remain reticent about my own opinions on gayness.

    Next, somebody or some group, unknown to me, created a big pile of FB avatars with overtly Christian names, such as "VWX". Then, YZA befriended some of those avatars. ...
    I could not find any good way to report this to Facebook. It seems you can't report a Document. I reported the user as "Spam / Scammer", but there is no way to paste in the details he gave.

    Group administrators need better tools to deal with spammers. One button to report a person as a spammer, delete them from the Group, and delete all of their postings and comments from the Group, all in one shot.

  18. Groups and "block user" interact badly. Suppose I am in a Group with 200 other users, and user X has gotten angry at me and blocked me. If user X posts something to the Group, I don't see it, and other users may assume I've seen it and chosen not to comment on it. If user A posts something to the Group, and I and user X and other users comment on it, I don't see comments from user X, but I see comments from other users responding to the comment from user X, and other users may assume I've seen the comment from user X and chosen not to respond to it.

    I think inside a Group, blocking another user shouldn't work. If you choose to participate in a Group, you should see everything in that Group.

Alina Tugend's "Barred From Facebook, and Wondering Why"

Features Facebook should have:

  1. A way to label each Friend to help you remember who the heck they are and why you Friended them. A free-form piece of text associated with each Friend, and visible only to you. "Joe's roommate who has a motorcycle".

    Also: let the user set a "strength" number from 0 to 10 associated with each friendship, to tell Facebook how much the user wants to see updates/Postings from that Friend.

  2. More nuances of Friend.

    I don't have a specific recommendation here, but many people want something like "close friends" and "coworkers" and "acquaintances" and "relatives" and "former schoolmates" and so on. "Friend" doesn't quite apply to everyone you know.

    Maybe you can do some of this with Lists. But that's a lot of work.

    A wish from someone: feature to make Wall and Profile appear differently (different Privacy settings) to people in different Lists. From another: posts by people in your Groups (or Lists) should be marked in a way that stands out, even if they didn't post into the Group.

    People talking about Google+'s "Circles" say that too many clicks are required to use Facebook's Lists and Groups, and that they feel like add-on's, not integral parts of Facebook. That there are no indicators to show when something is going to or coming from a List or Group. That some lists in dialogs mix Friends and Lists and Groups without making them look distinct from each other.

    I guess Facebook's new "Subscribe" facilities are similar to Google+'s "Circles" ? Haven't used Subscribe yet.

    Maybe people will keep separation by using Facebook for relatives and casual friends, LinkedIn for business associates, and Google+ for techie-friends ?

  3. A way to tag every posting in a few basic ways: "work/school", "family/personal", "fun/sports/humor", "news/politics", "commercial", "other". Then you could have filter settings that mean "only 'work/school' postings go between me and this Friend".

    And a way for readers of a posting to push back: "original poster said this is tag 'other', but I say it is 'news/politics'".

    The list of tags has to be small, or the filtering will be too complicated and people won't use it.

    Every time you create a posting, Facebook could set the tags automatically by scanning for key words, and then ask you to review the tags and correct them before posting. This would take most of the work out of using the tags, and get users to adopt this. And users could suggest words to help "teach" Facebook, to make its automatic tagging get better.

    And this "tag" data could become a valuable resource for Facebook; their business customers could target ads more effectively. (Hey, Facebook corporation needs an incentive to implement these features.)

    6/2013: Looks like Facebook is adding a "hashtag" facility to do this. More intrusive than what I proposed above, but similar. I wish Facebook would supply standard hastags such as "#sports" and "#holiday" and "#family", so people could filter based on them.

  4. A way to check the audience of a posting before sending it.

    A "preview" button that gives you a list of every person, plus "Friends of Friends" and "Everyone", who will be able to see this posting after you Share it.

    Same thing for a Comment, before I commit to posting it. Who will be able to see it ?

    [This may have been fixed recently; there are more controls as you get ready to Post something.]

  5. A way to tag every posting and photo in some content-rating system: check-boxes or 0-10 values for violence, nudity, strong language, sex, gore, etc.

    Then you could have account filter settings that mean "don't show any of that in this account" (because it's a child's account). And "don't show any of my postings or pictures rated X to my Friend Y" (because Friend Y is my Mom).

    And a way for readers of a posting to push back: "original poster said this contains no strong language, but I say it does".

    Every time you create a posting, Facebook could set the ratings automatically by scanning for key words, and then ask you to review the ratings and correct them before posting. This would take most of the work out of using the rating system, and get users to adopt it.

    Advertising should respect any content-rating restrictions placed on an account, so a child doesn't see inappropriate ads.

    A content-rating system should not be of the movie type (PG-13, R-17, etc), which embodies some group's decisions about what is appropriate for 13-year-olds to see, for example. The rating system should describe the content, and leave decisions up to the account settings. A parent should be able to decide what kind of content is appropriate for each of their children. And perhaps even some adults want to set their own accounts to "I don't want to see any nudity or sex or bad language".

    What I want:
    HTML tag <meta name="content rating" content="ratingstring" />
    where "ratingstring" specifies levels of violence, nudity, sex, gore, badlanguage, etc in 0-10 levels. For example:
    <meta name="content rating" content="violence:0;nudity:5;sex:0;gore:0" />
    Then in the browser and search engine and Facebook and other clients, each user could select the levels they will tolerate.

    As a webmaster, I'd like a tool that scans all of my web pages and suggests ratings for each, and generates the corresponding tags. Then I can tweak the settings to fix anything the tool got wrong.
    See Content Rating section of my Computers page for more info.

    The internet community hasn't come up with a useful content-rating system, so maybe Facebook could lead here. Add content-rating tags to Opengraph, and hooks to use them in the client part of Facebook.

    From Danah Boyd on NPR's "On The Media" June 8 2012: over half of parents of 12-year-olds report that their kids have Facebook accounts, and 76% of those say they helped their child create their Facebook account. [Facebook policy is that you must be 13 or older to have an account.]

  6. A way to make my postings and Wall no-swearing zones.

    An option that prevents use of nasty words, including the usual curse-words but also things such as "stupid", "idiot", "troll", "Nazi", and so on. It should prevent them in my postings and any comments on those postings, and any postings/comments on my Wall.

  7. A way to filter postings by content. Then you could have filter settings such as "don't ever show me anything that has 'Obama' in it from Friend X".

    Not sure this would be a healthy thing. But maybe better than having people un-Friend each other because they don't want to hear about certain subjects.

    Also, I want more flavors of "Hide Postings". Hide postings by this Friend to that Group. Hide Event or Question postings by this Friend. Hide postings that share a photo from some particular Page or Group or web site.

    And this "filter" data could become a valuable resource for Facebook; their business customers could target ads more effectively.

    Much of this can be done by using an external application, Facebook News Feed Reader, or a browser add-on, F.B. Purity. But it would be cleaner and better and more accurate if done inside Facebook itself, with user cooperation.

  8. "Placeholders" for people you want to connect to, but who refuse to use Facebook.

    The placeholder would have their email address or other connection info (Twitter, SMS, etc). So when you post something to show to all of your Friends, Facebook sends it to your placeholder-Friends too.

    It probably should have a setting in each placeholder to select between "send every posting to them" or "ask me each time if this posting should go to this person". And maybe a "daily digest" setting too, to bunch postings up into one email per day to each person. And maybe a keyword or tag-based filter: "send only my 'family/personal' postings in email to this person".

    And each posting sent to their email should have a link in it, so they could Comment on the posting. Maybe each link is good for one use only, or time-limited.

    If a user abused this, and started sending a lot of unwanted email to their friends, they'd get some pointed Comments back, I'm sure. Just as they would if they sent or forwarded a lot of trash to their friends from their usual email account.

    I hear that Google+ has a form of this: a Circle can include someone who has only a GMail account and no Google+ account.

    This may be known as a "shadow profile" (but what I'm proposing would be created by another user, not automatically created), and may be a violation of privacy laws in some countries.

  9. The "Like" feature should have a "context" along with it.

    This is a complaint I have about Amazon, too. Sometime when I am shopping, I am shopping for myself. Sometimes I am shopping for a present for my Mom. Amazon assumes there is just one "me". If I buy something on Amazon, it thinks I like that kind of thing, when really I was buying for my Mom and it's something she likes. So later the site starts showing me more things my Mom likes, even when I'm shopping for myself.

    I have a similar issue with Google searching. I should be able to set a "hint" or a "mode" saying "right now, I'm scanning for news/politics", or "right now, I'm shopping". So then when I search for "Portugal", if in "news/politics" mode I'd see results about news/politics/events/issues in Portugal, and if in "shopping" mode I'd see results about travel to Portugal or products made in Portugal.

    If I click "Like" on a site linked to Facebook, the sites assume there is just one "me". But maybe I "like" that page for shopping, or for work, or for pleasure, or for politics. There is not just one "me", and there should be a way to separate them. This ties into the "tags on postings" feature I listed above.

    Every time you click "Like" on some site, Facebook could set tags ("work/school", "family/personal", "fun/sports/humor", "news/politics", "commercial", "other") automatically from information coded in the "Like" script in the web page, and then ask you to review the tags and correct them before posting. And this "tag" data would become a valuable resource for Facebook; their business customers could target ads more effectively.

  10. An intelligent Search feature.

    You should be able to search in postings, limiting by tags, and content ratings, and posting type (link, photo, etc), and identity of posters (yourself, Friends only, Friends and Friends of Friends, etc), and date range, and domains in links. Search your Friends, and Friends of Friends, by any fields in the Profile. Search out through your Applications and Websites, using them as a smart gateway (using their knowledge of your Facebook Profile and behavior) to things outside Facebook. Define a Search Template and then post it or make it public so others can use it.

  11. A better way to track my active conversations.

    Probably in Timeline, highlight or give me a filter to show only my Comments that were then followed by Comments from others. This would let me see where someone probably has responded to my Comment, and I want to go read their response.

  12. Let users make money from selling their information.

    Let a user choose to expose their profile or their postings to outside companies, for a share of the money.

  13. I'd like an internet standard for privacy settings. I want to set my privacy settings once in my browser, and they would apply to all web sites and online companies. All sites would pick up my privacy settings from that "cookie" on my computer. If my settings said "don't share my data with any other company or affiliate", that's what each of them would have to do. I could have specific exceptions, such as "company X is allowed to share my data with their affiliates" and "company Y is allowed to email me their newsletter".

    Since Facebook has the most elaborate privacy settings I know of, maybe FB could take a lead in defining and using this standard.

    The "privacy cookie" would contain only the privacy settings I chose. No usernames or passwords for my online identities. No "content", just privacy settings.

    There would have to be a standard definition of "privacy settings" which fits most applications, with a provision for app-specific situations. Maybe something like:
    • Classes of information (info about me, info generated by me, info about my use of a site, info about my purchases, info about my current location).
    • Formats of information (text, audio, picture, video).
    • Classes of use (displayed to others, sold to others, used for advertising).
    • Classes of contact (on the site, by phone call, by email, by SMS, by tweet, by paper mail).
    • Classes of entity (site owner, affiliate, third-party).
    • Which entity (all, or a specific name, or all non-commercial).
    • Classes of permission (not permitted, permitted for free, permitted for payment).
    So a single "setting" could look like "info about me / in picture format / may be displayed to others / on the site / by the site owner / Facebook / is permitted for free".

  14. Notifications about privacy settings.

    Any time Facebook creates new privacy settings, or modifies any of my existing privacy settings, I should be notified.

  15. Make Groups into stronger communities.

    What would it take to make Facebook as useful as more targeted sites ? Such as described in Farhad Manjoo article about Ravelry.

    Let a Group own an album of files of any format (or an album of links to files on an outside site), and a text description associated with each file. Maybe provide some way to give Applications or outside sites access to the files and postings and membership of a Group. A way to control the advertising members see while using the Group. A way for the owners to capture a share of the advertising money associated with the Group.

    Maybe this should be done with Pages as well as Groups ? I don't have much experience with Pages.

    How about a Group where membership is limited to those residing in a certain ZIP code ? Limited to those using an iPhone ? Limited to those in a certain age-range, or certain religion, or certain gender, or shared address (apartment complex) ? I'm just throwing out ideas here.

    Improve the "change history" feature on Files/Documents in Groups. Today you can see who edited the file, but not what changes they made.

    There should be a one-click way to download or backup the Files/Documents from a Group to local disk.

    There should be a way to make some Files/Documents in a Group editable only by Administrators, others editable by all members.

  16. Standard Events that people can refer to in Postings or Comments.

    Sporting events, elections, holidays, etc. Facebook should create these standard events that everyone can use. Today, guys watching a football game often post something like "the officials blew that call !", and don't say what game they're talking about; the posting makes no sense. And there's no way to monitor postings from all of your Friends about the game you're all watching.

    Maybe "Event" is not the right term for it, since it wouldn't involve invitations. Maybe a new term is needed.

  17. Advance notice of Events.

    A week or two before one of my close Friends has a birthday, send me a notice or create an Event. Two days before my favorite team has a scheduled game, send me a notice or create an Event.

  18. Help Center / Help Community.

    There should be "Questions I've Asked" and "Questions I've Answered" links.

  19. Facebook should drive micropayments for the internet.

    We need a micropayments facility on the internet. It would restore the news media to profitability, which is crucial for democracy. Facebook could be the driving force to make micropayments happen. And it seems to fit well with Facebook's desire to be the "common login for the internet".

  20. Two proposals for changing Facebook to enhance privacy:

  21. Make a "Teen Facebook" mode inside Facebook.

    Only users aged 13 to 22 can see each other's posts and pictures, comment, etc.

Dennis O'Reilly's "A 10-item Facebook wish list" (direct link doesn't work; cnet is a pain)
John Battelle's "A Wish List for Facebook Search"
Anne Zelenka's "Ten Things I Hate About You, Facebook" (couple of interesting ideas about Apps)
Better Facebook browser extension
J D Rucker's "Open Source Apps that Make Facebook Better"
Paul Boutin's "12 Things You Didn't Know Facebook Could Do"

Facebook strengths / why it won't go away:

  1. It is "basic blogging for the masses". Easier than creating a blog, network-shaped instead of top-down-tree like a blog, not as uni-directional as a blog, a more controlled audience than a blog.

    Or maybe people think of Facebook as a simpler version of email: a way to communicate with friends and relatives without having to type or select all of those pesky email addresses. They just post something and people see it and comment back.

    Various people use Facebook differently. Some use it just to share personal, daily experiences with their friends. I tend to use it to share interesting articles, jokes, and cartoons, and to have debates about politics and current events. Other people use it to advertise their businesses. Some use it to push local political candidates or issues.

  2. Almost a billion people have "invested" in it by establishing all of their Friend relationships. Plus uploading their pictures, creating Pages and Groups, etc.

    "Facebook now has 500 million users. The previous record holder was heroin."
    - from Jimmy Kimmel Live!

  3. It is extensible, via Applications. And connections to email and outside web sites.

  4. There is lots of back-end stuff going on that users don't see, or don't see yet: developer API, advertiser services, electronic payments, affiliate links with web sites, mobile, international, etc. There's more to Facebook than the visible user interface, and more coming.

    And there may be new things that do appear in the UI: internet phone calls, movies, etc.

    The technology behind Facebook is interesting (at least to us computer programmers):
    Pingdom's "Exploring the software behind Facebook, the world's largest site"
    Stacey Higginbotham's "Facebook Open Sources Its Servers and Data Centers"

  5. How Facebook could make money:

    Facebook should make money by providing services to users, instead of by monetizing user's information:

    • Integrate with an online travel service, such as Expedia. When users click on a Facebook Event for a family reunion or wedding or the Super Bowl or something, they can click to start making travel arrangements to go to the event. Create standard Events such as Christmas, with reminders to make travel arrangements. Create a new kind of object, a Location, and make standard Locations, so a user can "like" Cancun or Miami, and then easily arrange travel to there or a cruise out of there.
    • Integrate with an online concert-ticket service, such as Ticketmaster, or movie-ticket service. Users can coordinate with their Friends to go to the concert or movie together.
    • Integrate with cable-TV services. Users could post/comment/chat to each other as they watch the same TV show from different locations at the same time.
    • Integrate with an online dating service. Users could discuss potential dates with each other, comment on dates they had, etc.
    • Integrate with online retailers, such as Amazon. Associated with each User could be a "stuff I own" list and a "wish" list. A user could click on a "suggest a gift for my Friend" button, and Facebook would use that Friend's own-list, wish-list, and Likes to generate gift suggestions. Users could discuss potential purchases with each other, comment on something they bought, share their own-lists and wish-lists with their Friends, etc.
    • When users are commenting on a sports team or sports game, make it easy for them to buy team merchandise or tickets to coming games.
    • When users are commenting on a TV show or song or video or celebrity, make it easy for them to buy related merchandise or tickets.

    This is the future of revenue for Facebook. Gaming will fade a bit, advertising fundamentally is a user-alienating activity, selling user data is a user-alienating activity. The future is in adding value to the user experience and taking a cut of transactions.

Why some people hate Facebook:

  1. It is violating our privacy and selling our information.

    In my opinion: a valid and well-publicized concern. And a point that is true of every other large internet company these days: Google, Amazon, etc. But Facebook has more information about us than any of those other companies, especially if you tell Facebook who your relatives are, what schools you went to, what companies employed you, your religious and political affiliations, etc. And Facebook keeps adding new features in an "opt out" way (because if they used "opt in", no one would bother, and new features would die unused).

    Facebook may offer more of a privacy risk in a couple of other ways. There are more non-internet-savvy users on Facebook than on some other sites. And Facebook is more "free-form" than many other sites (such as shopping sites), so users have more freedom to do something stupid.

    Interesting comment by nariposa on vanelsas's "5 reasons why Facebook sucks" 4/2008:
    The privacy noise about Facebook is overblown.

    The fact is Facebook has the best privacy package, not the other way around. Facebook allows the most highly granular access control among comparable social networking sites. You can be 100% public, public but not search indexed, public to just school and/or geographical location, public to just friends or friends of friends, or not public at all. And beyond that, you can slice and dice your profile to control who can view which parts, down to the level of a single person, by leveraging limited profiles, contact groups, and application privacy.

    In short, Facebook has the most sophisticated privacy options available and respects your choices consistently (RSS, API, and news feed functions all honor your permissions).
    [But I think people are worried about Facebook corporation itself selling our information, as well as letting our information be visible to other Facebook users.]

    From comments on Somini Sengupta's "Staying Private on the New Facebook":
    Actually, a total refusal to use Facebook *isn't* sufficient to protect your privacy. You also have to tell (beg, plead with) all your friends, family and people like your kids' teachers and camp counselors never to upload photos of you or your kids or tag your name or theirs to anything.
    I have to say - some of these posts are pretty silly. "If you want to be secure, don't use facebook?"

    Fine, but some of us enjoy using facebook and would like some tips to control our privacy. This was a very good article in this regard and the birthday tip was an interesting one especially. I appreciate this kind of advice.

    It's very, very easy to trash facebook, and you can probably get a lot of likes on the New York times website by doing so. That said:

    1.) I don't know of a better way to stay in touch with close friends that you've moved hundreds or thousands of miles away from. With facebook you can read similar articles and have discussions based on them.

    2.) Facebook stores hi-res copies of photos indefinitely and gives you control over who can see them. That's a lot of server space per user, and you don't have to pay for it.

    3.) Facebook makes disseminating difficult news a lot easier. We have a friend through a large weekly social gathering based on a common interest. We don't live near them, or see them outside the class, but that's still a weekly contact. They recently had a family member (also in the class) diagnosed with a serious type of cancer. Because Facebook lets them give status updates of how treatment is going and triumphs and setbacks, the entire group is on the same page and is being very sensitive to their needs. That would have been tough to do discreetly in a pre-facebook world.
    The greatest tools for protecting your privacy are self-control and sound judgment. Why would ANYONE post photos of themselves drunk? Or talk about doing drugs? Or go off on a violent rant about this politician or that American Idol winner? Just ask yourself, "How would I feel if my boss/grandmother/co-workers/etc. saw this?" Ninety percent of the time, that will keep you from posting things you shouldn't. And if you never post that junk, you will never have to spend hours cleaning up your timeline when you apply for a new job or go out on a blind date. People need to understand that Facebook is what you make it. You can CHOOSE what to share online and what not to. No app, browser extension or privacy settings will protect you as well as good judgment.

    See the Online Privacy section of my Computer Security and Privacy page.

    Vicki Boykis' "What should you think about when using Facebook?"
    Salim Virani's "Get your loved ones off Facebook"
    Richard Stallman's "Facebook2"

    Very interesting article about good uses of "private" data: Farhad Manjoo's "No More Privacy Paranoia".

    The Onion's "Potential Employers Check Social Networking Sites"
    Dog cartoon

    About "Facebook privacy notice" posts:
    Snopes' "Facebook Privacy Notice"
    Eric Karjaluoto's "My Facebook Privacy Notice"
    CollegeHumor's "Facebook Law for Idiots" (video)

  2. It is creating a "walled garden", trying to trap everyone inside, doing their messaging and game-playing and everything in a proprietary, closed way.

    In my opinion: true, but you don't have to use it that way. I use about 2 Facebook applications, don't play their games, don't use their email-type messaging or chat. I assume that anything I put in Facebook could disappear at any time; I keep my own copies of anything important.

    And many other big internet companies try to make their sites "sticky" too. Many want to keep your data in their part of the "cloud" for you. Blackberry users were devastated when that network went down for a day or two. What happens if all of your data is in Google's cloud, you use Google Apps for everything, and then your Google account gets disabled for some reason ?

    Some people complain that FB is "not following internet standards". I'm not sure what they mean. Maybe not allowing anonymous logins or aliases, customization of Walls and Pages, search engines to see Facebook content ? But those actually are strengths of FB, for many users. It's a simpler, easier, more controlled environment than something like Myspace. FB does do some non-standard UI stuff that is irritating.

    Quincy Larson's "I can�t just stand by and watch Mark Zuckerberg destroy the internet."

  3. It is yet another time-drain. We already have work email, personal email, news sites, maybe a career-related social network, online gaming, text-messaging, chat, TV, gaming, and so on. Now another (big and attractive) thing is being added to the list. Facebook is hurting relationships, student grades, child brain development, etc.

    In my opinion: true, but you don't have to use it that way. And if Facebook didn't exist, internet addicts just would be spending their time on other internet sites.

    I happen to live and cruise on a sailboat (check out Magnolia's Log or Retire Onto A Sailboat), and sometimes I go a week or two with no internet access. No problem, stuff on Facebook just scrolls off and disappears, with no real loss to me. I pick up the "Facebook habit" again when I have good internet access again. Dealing with my piled-up email messages is more work.

    "It's daylight-saving time, when we lose an hour of our lives. It's like nature's version of Facebook."
    - from The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

    The Onion's "Man Who Temporarily Disables Facebook Account Deems Self 'Off The Grid'"

  4. Facebook corporation pretends to be innocent and good, but really is an evil money-seeking company.

    In my opinion: a point that is equally true/false about every large company these days. They all want good PR, they all need to make money, and in one way or another they all do something that someone won't like for some reason. Sure, I wish Facebook was more open about its plans, policies and failures. But I feel the same about most big companies.

    Violet Blue's "Facebook: I want out"

  5. Facebook misuses or co-opts the word "friend".

    Some people are really ticked off about this; I don't see why. Okay, Facebook could have used some blander word such as "contact" or something. So what ?

  6. Facebook is replacing face-to-face personal interaction with lightweight electronic posting.

    So you hate the telephone and email too ? This phenomenon is not specific to Facebook.

    And life before Facebook was not necessarily a wonderful paradise full of deep personal relationships.
    People on train


  7. It has serious bugs, features and UI that change often, and a non-standard UI.

    In my opinion: I haven't seen a lot of bugs, but the non-standard UI is irritating. Modal dialogs that fade away annoy me.

  8. Facebook works so well that it is used by terrorists, spammers, phishers, child predators, bullies, etc.

    Seems contradictory to the previous item. But anyway, bad guys will use any new technology for bad purposes: radio, telephone, automobile, internet, email, encryption, digital camera, etc. Facebook is no worse than anything else, from that point of view (except that Facebook has more info about us than other sites; particularly bad for ID theft).

    And personally I've seen no phishing and almost no spam in my Facebook use (a bit more than 2 years). [Some people consider messages from apps such as Farmville to be "spam"; I don't. And I block them, easily.] A few of my Friends have circulated some of those hoax virus-warnings, but they did the same kind of thing through email. And in Facebook when I Comment on their warning and show it to be a hoax, my Comment is seen by all of the people they sent the warning to.

    The Onion's "Area Man Has No Idea How He Got On Hamas E-Mail List"

  9. Facebook enables lots of annoying clutter: Farmville messages, "gifts", "pokes", stupid polls and quizzes and pictures, trivia, babbling idiots.

    In my opinion: true, but that stuff can be blocked. And maybe some of your Friends just are annoying or stupid people ! Maybe they used to annoy you through email or phone calls. Better tagging and filtering in Facebook would help. But the problem is the people, not the tool. Or, if you Friend a thousand people, that's your own fault. In some sense, each person's experience of Facebook is unique, because no two people have exactly the same Friends and settings and behavior.

    Another way of saying this: Facebook is a communication network, like the phone system or the email system. The content is provided by users. If you Friend or phone or email to/from idiots, you're going to get time-wasting idiocy. If you Friend or phone or email interesting people, you're going to enjoy it.

    Yet another flavor of this: If Facebook is wasting your time, you're using it wrong. Friend interesting people, post interesting things yourself, and use the blocking features to block messages from or about games. It will become a good experience once you do those things.

    Much of "the behavior of Facebook" depends on how you and your Friends use it. I have several types of Friends:
    • Some who post little or nothing, just lurk and occasionally click "Like".
    • Some who post way too much, often cat pics and personal trivia and garbage.
    • Some who post interesting stuff about science, politics, current issues, etc.
    • Some who post about major life events, interesting vacations, etc.
    • Used to have some who just went ballistic if anyone disagreed with them about religion or politics. They wanted to broadcast their opinions, but not hear any dissent.
    There is some overlap, and people go in and out of phases or moods.

    [Okay, as of 6/2015, Facebook seems to have gone over a cliff. Suddenly it's filling my NewsFeed with things my Friends "like", crowding out things they "post". This has increased the clutter greatly; very bad.]

    The Oatmeal's "How to suck at Facebook"
    Brandon Griggs' "The 12 most annoying types of Facebookers"
    The Onion's "Why Are We Leaving Facebook?"
    Voice Media Group's "The Ten Most Annoying Facebook Users"
    "Instagram down" picture
    9GAG's "Why do I hate Facebook?" picture
    SMBC about people (pic)
    Silly (pic)
    Likes (pic)
    Courtney Boyd Myers' "Spring Cleaning Tips for Facebook and Twitter"
    How-To Geek's "Block Those Irritating Facebook Quiz & Application Messages"

    Now for some guesswork; don't flame me too hard about it:
    Maybe some of the complaints are from men (I'm male) who aren't used to seeing women communicating so much to each other on the computer ? Maybe women communicate more, and more often "lighter" everyday items, than men do ?

    Facebook started as a college-kid thing; maybe you're hearing more from your college-age relatives, and college-age children of your friends, and you're not used to their level of conversation ?

    Some flak is from young techie types who used to be the only ones talking publicly on the internet (because you used to have to run a web-site or blog to broadcast on the internet; older and non-techie people used shopping and email and such, but didn't "talk publicly"). Now it's "what are all these n00b's doing blabbing away on my internet ?".

    "You can choose your friends but you can't choose your relatives." Holidays can be rough because you have to talk to a bunch of your relatives, and you may not get along very well with them. Now, on Facebook, maybe you're hearing from them a lot, and maybe that's not a good thing. A couple of my relatives on Facebook are a bit loopy in various ways; some of my other relatives have un-Friended them because of it.
    From "Get Smart":
    [Max and 99 are saying good-bye to an Israeli agent at the airport:]

    Israeli: Good-bye, Max. I'm really going to miss you. I love you like a brother-in-law.

    Max: Uh, you mean, "brother".

    Israeli: No, brother-in-law. My brother and I don't speak.

    I've never used Twitter, but I wonder if some of the same complaints of frivolity there are due to the heavy teenage use of cell-phones ? Adults on Twitter may not be used to hearing so much from teenagers. Of course, the 140-character limit doesn't help.

    Oh, well, enough with the wild speculation.

  10. I hate Facebook but social pressure is forcing me to use it.

    A number of people complain that their friends have all moved from Myspace to Facebook, friends announce parties and news only on Facebook, their family now posts new vacation pictures etc only on Facebook, everyone asks them if they have a Facebook account and thinks they're weird when they say "no".

    Then, when they join Facebook, they run into the other things they hate about it: bad UI, time-drain, inane chatter, privacy concerns, etc.

  11. Everyone will leave Facebook when the next cool thing comes along, and that will serve Facebook right.

    No, users on Facebook are quite different from users on MySpace or whatever. Almost all of my older friends and relatives are on Facebook. Many of them are not very computer-savvy. Facebook is good enough, it works for them, and everyone they want to talk to is on Facebook. They're not going to flit away to some slightly hipper or shinier site that's 10% better. Almost none of them even looked at Google+ when it launched.

    And comparing Facebook to AOL is wrong; AOL mostly was an ISP, easy for people to leave.

    From a commenter on a Slate article:
    "Facebook no longer needs to be cool -- the number of people on it means that it is the ONLY social media network for all intents and purposes. Arguing that it isn't cool is like arguing that the interstate freeway system isn't cool. Maybe it's true but its sheer utility and irreplaceability means nothing is going to take its place any time soon."

  12. Some people want to use Facebook in ways that conflict with what other people want.

    Some people complain that Facebook doesn't allow anonymity or pseudonyms. But it is exactly that policy that keeps down the flame wars and abuse you see on other forums (pic), makes it easier to find and Friend people you know in real life, connects your online conversations to real life, and makes Facebook more attractive to older users and less-internet-savvy users.

    Some people complain that Facebook won't let them add dozens or hundreds of Friends per day, or that it tops out at a limit of 5000 Friends per account. I guess they want to use Facebook as a massive mailing list or publicity machine. But a social network is not the same as a broadcaster.

    Some ways people want to use Facebook:
    • Broadcast/spam people about their business or political cause.
    • Completely controlled and curated Wall where only their message is heard, no disagreement allowed. If you Comment on one of their Postings with a dissenting opinion, they are outraged: "How dare you write on my Wall !". They don't understand how Facebook works.
    • Sharing their life-events with friends, relatives, acquaintances. Fine as long as they don't share everything they do, minute-by-minute.
    • Sharing jokes, interesting news items, links to useful articles.
    • Debate about serious issues: politics, current events, religion, guns, etc.

    Some users seem to have the impression that only positive, happy stuff should be allowed on Facebook:
    A Friend-of-a-Friend posted a negative comment starting with "My apologies ... I know facebook is supposed to be happy in general, but ...".

    Another Friend posted:
    Commenting on a FB thread is kind of like being a guest in someone's home, and if you want to be invited back you need to be a skillful one. Being intellectually provocative is good, but it's also important to support the mood your host is trying to set. Yes, sometimes that means nodding and smiling politely while you privately think rude thoughts.

    I disagree; I think Facebook is just another communications tool. There is no one "right" way to use it.

    Chase Mitchell's "An Honest Facebook Political Argument"

One interesting point: maybe many of these concerns (especially privacy, walled-garden, time-wasting, clutter) apply to the internet in general, but are perceived as worse in FB because Facebook has more not-computer-savvy users ? (Maybe AOL was savaged so much for the same reason ? But AOL really did have some horrendous software, and people were paying money for it.)

Facebook is just a tool, with various capabilities and quirks. I have my own web site, my own blog, and use email, and use various blogs and forums on other sites. For each thing I want to do, I pick the right tool. Sometimes it's Facebook.

Are smartphones dumbing down serious debates, on Facebook and on other sites ?

I seem to see more people who aren't bothering to read articles that are linked-to. They just react to the headline or "blurb" given next to the link.

I seem to see more people who don't bother to Google or Wikipedia things before asking or talking about them; they just go with their skimpy impression of some issue.

I wonder if both of these things are happening more because more people are using smartphones rather than full-screen-and-keyboard computers.

I've seen how hard it is to type on some smartphones, so I think that would encourage some people to post simple comments such as "you're wrong" or "you're a jerk", instead of a long, reasoned response. But I don't have a smartphone, so I'm guessing.

More hatred:
Some people really do hate Facebook, in every way they can think of.
Ethan A. Huff's "Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are an elaborate CIA spying scheme"

How many extremely successful things (now or in their day) are or were generally considered to "suck" or be evil ? IBM, AT&T, Windows, Microsoft, AOL, IBM-compatible PC architecture, cable TV, cell-phone companies, oil companies, cigarette companies ? And don't get started on TV shows that "sucked" but made fortunes for their owners.

And how many new things (in their day) were called evil or forecast to destroy society ? The telephone, TV, comic books, the internet, etc. It's just Facebook's turn to be the newest thing.

Perhaps Facebook is hated by some because it's new ?
From Douglas Adams' "How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet" 1999:
I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:

1) everything that's already in the world when you're born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you're thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it's been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are.

Guy complaining about something that obviously is Facebook's fault:
in comment on ryankett's "I Hate FB: Lots Of Reasons To Hate Facebook":
I hate Facebook. It has completely ruined my life. If it hadn't been for this utter piece of sh*t then i would never have got to this point in my life. Met a girl on one of the applications made for facebook and i have regretted that every day since. Had 2 children with her in an on off relationship over the last 2 and three quarter years, and now she has met someone else off facebook and is refusing me any access to my children because she thinks this new guy is more father material.

Had it not been for Facebook i would never have met this parasitic woman who has used me and bled me dry for almost 3 years of my life. F*ck you facebook.

Facebook has a Known Issues on Facebook page, but it's mostly about flat-out broken features, and maintenance down-time announcements.

Facebook has a Help Center - Suggestions and Feedback page.

Kristi Hines's "How to Contact Facebook and Get Support When You Need It"
Facebook Help Community
Aaron Kheifets' "16 Steps To Destroy Your Day With Facebook Customer Support"

On phones:
Facebook is trying to force people to install Facebook Messenger to do messaging, so on a phone the normal desktop browser app won't let you do Messages. But if you use through a browser, you can do Messages. Also could use the "Metal for Facebook" app ?

On phones:
The Facebook app requires a huge set of permissions, and certainly harvests your Contacts list. Use or through a browser instead of the Facebook app.

How Facebook decides what to show in your News Feed: EdgeRank

Wikipedia's "Criticism of Facebook"

Lifehacker's "Get Your Facebook Account Under Control This Weekend"
Somini Sengupta's "Staying Private on the New Facebook"
Jennifer Golbeck's "I Decided to Delete All My Facebook Activity"

How to delete your account quickly and permanently, from someone on reddit:
Change your account name to match a Friend, then get that Friend to report your account as a scammer or identity-thief. FB will zap your account thoroughly.

Apps or add-ons to manage or modify Facebook:
Social Fixer (Lifehacker article)
F.B. Purity
Adblock Plus

Using Adblock Plus to remove annoying ads/stories from Facebook:
Install the Adblock Plus add-on in your browser. This gets rid of most ads in Facebook and elsewhere.

A further step: go to Adblock Plus Facebook settings and choose options.

To do even more in Facebook, also install Adblock Plus's "Element Hiding Helper" add-on in your browser.

Once the two Adblock Plus add-on's are installed, open Facebook in your browser, see something you want to hide, and press ctrl-shift-F3. Now your mouse will let you select an element of the page, showing a red border. When you have selected the element you want to hide, left-click the mouse in that area, and a dialog will appear. Click the "Add element hiding rule" button in that dialog.

To see and maybe change or delete element-hiding rules, (in Firefox) go to Tools / Adblock Plus / Filter Preferences menu item.

For more, see The Future of Facebook Ads (and how Adblock Plus will deal with them).

How to remove the "Games Your Friends Are Playing" story from Facebook News Feed:
The element-hiding rule I added to do this was "".

But the Adblock Plus blog article says it should be "".

[Someone says another way to do this is:
Install F.B. Purity.
Click link "F.B. Purity".
See popup with a large empty box on the right side.
In that box enter "games your friends are playing" (minus the quotations).
Click save and close at the bottom of the popup.]

Anil Chaudhari's "Latest Facebook Tips and Tricks 2013"
Mihir Patkar's "Facebook Cleanser Quickly Unsubscribes You from Pages You Liked"
Whitson Gordon's "How to Declutter Your Facebook News Feed Once and For All"

From "Dave Barry in Cyberspace" (on Amazon):
A common criticism of the Internet is that it is dominated by the crude, the uninformed, the immature, the smug, the untalented, the repetitious, the pathetic, the hostile, the deluded, the self-righteous, and the shrill. This criticism overlooks the fact that the Internet also offers - for the savvy individual who knows where to look - the tasteless and the borderline insane.

Please send any feedback or more items to me.

Last update: July 2015.

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