Facebook Knows Best

n27233634858_8547As the Facebook management continues their ongoing march to make up for failing to buy Twitter by copying features from Twitter and FriendFeed, there seems to be a grim inevitability about the way each new change is greeted.

First off there is usually a cheery posting on their blog explaining how they’ve made it a whole load easier to use the site, this is usually swiftly followed by loads of complaints, and protest groups. However, this is generally to no avail, the changes stay, as do most of the people complaining – which is after all what Facebook and their advertisers are interested in.

So what is the change this time? They’ve updated the friend pages to make it even easier to group your friends into lists, which you can then use to filter the home feed. The problem being that in doing so they’ve taken out two tabs that showed recent status updates, and which a lot of people used to get a quick overview of all the statuses of all their friends. Neither Twitter or FriendFeed have such a page, so obviously Facebook doesn’t need one either.

The Facebook argument is that you should be getting this information from the home feed – the problem of course is that the home feed is so full of application spam that you can barely find status updates, and whilst you can spend time going through the filters to try and get a simple status list it’s not nearly as convenient as a single page list of everybody.

What is bizarre about the whole thing is that in terms of numbers, Facebook far outstrips Twitter and FriendFeed (even combined) in terms of users – users who like the Twitter or FriendFeed ways of operating have set up accounts over there. Trying to turn Facebook into one of those services, sacrificing popular features and annoying large numbers of users in the process seems nonsensical. Whilst the changes thus far haven’t produced a wholesale exodus, it’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that if they keep doing this they will.

Facebook claims they are listening to their users, but the fact is that the vast majority of their users aren’t the ones who participate in feedback groups. Essentially it seems they are following a minority who want a Twitter clone, at the expense of those who want Facebook as it is. If they had any sense Facebook would be looking at how the average user uses the site through their stats – it seems that there are a large number of users who come in and used to go straight to the recent status updates page.

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