Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Facebook's sudden change explained

Twitter next to Facebook

A couple weeks ago, Facebook changed their home page layout. They opened up a "vote on the layout" page to try and make it more democratic, more user-run and user-friendly. The vote, as of this writing, is 1,259,838 against, and 82,528 for.

Facebook still hasn't reverted it back to what it was.

The old Facebook layout

Why? For a company that just recently declared that it wants to be more user-friendly and allow members to voice their opinions on changes and that if people don't like something they'll change it, they sure aren't changing this. It can't even be a coding issue -- all they need to do is revert back to what it was when it people liked it and it worked just fine. (I refuse to believe Facebook does not have that code somewhere in their exabytes of databases.)

I was reading an article in De
tails today (yes, I read Details, can we move on now?) and they have a short profile of the Twitter founders, Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, and Biz Stone in the "Mavericks of 2009" expose. Being a big fan of Twitter I started reading the article. Towards the bottom it states this:
Bigger does not mean a better balance sheet, as many technorati point out, and it's unclear whether the new revenue model--based on charging companies to certify their tweets--will ever justify their having walked away from a $500 million buyout from Facebook. (emphasis mine)
And now it all makes sense. Facebook saw Twitter and wanted to incorporate them into the company, into the site and the profiles and the status updates. But Twitter refused. So Facebook just went right ahead and copied it, going so far as to change the "status" to just reading "what's on your mind?"

As stated above, people don't like it. But why not? People like Twitter. People like Facebook. A blend of the two should be exactly what they like, right?

Just as jalapeno-stuffed olives don't go with Cadbury Creme Eggs, Facebook and Twitter don't mix. They each serve a purpose and they each serve that purpose well. Facebook was for social networking, planning events, staying in touch. Twitter was for posting random thoughts you have and allows celebrities to candidly say whatever they want. Combining them just makes it cluttered and foul tasting--the founders of Twitter knew this but the executives at Facebook didn't. Facebook asked for feedback on the new design and they got it with an overwhelming 1.2 million actively speaking out against it and only 82 thousand supporting it. That's a 15.2:1 ratio. Barack Obama was elected with a 1.16:1 ratio.

The simple truth is Facebook didn't update their page because they thought it would be more convenient for people or because they thought people would like it. They did it because Twitter turned them down and now they're trying to take users away from Twitter. It's no different than what other large corporations do to competitors: they try to buy them out, and if that fails, they try to destroy them. Walmart has done it, Philip Morris has done it,

The Corporate Hall of Fame

Microsoft has done it and well, if everyone else is doing, it's probably safe for Facebook to do it, too.

Congratulations, Facebook. You've become the next big corporation. With this coming so close after the terms of use fiasco, it appears the "friendly billion-dollar corporation" appeal you once held that made so many people feel safe is officially gone.

1 comment:

--jeff * said...

have you ever thought of submitting some of your writing to a magazine's opinion section? your posts are thought-out and well-structured, supported by sufficient research and cited accordingly, and written professionally but with enough of a personal voice to make them interesting.

i'm not sure what magazine to submit them to, but i think there's a bigger audience out there for you.