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How Facebook Ignores Its Users

Facebook Apps In Action
Facebook Apps In Action

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Why do we love Facebook when we hate what it does to us?

At the moment, the thing Facebook users most hate about Facebook is Timeline, according to a study by Attensity based on sentiment analysis of publicly accessible posts on Facebook. In a converse of the maxim, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all," it seems everyone who is talking about Timeline at all on Facebook is talking trash about it. By Attensity's rating, the conversation about Facebook Timeline is about 96% negative with the word "hate" as a big part of the discussion.

[ For more, see Might As Well Face It, You're Addicted To Facebook. ]

Presumably, there are people out there who like it, but they're the ones not saying anything at all. When Attensity alerted me to these findings, I shared its blog post on the BrainYard Facebook page with the comment, "Is this a surprise?" At first, I was left wondering if this should even count as news, given how many complaints we've all heard about Timeline since it was announced in September.

With the Facebook IPO looming, earlier this week the Wall Street Journal published an article on Facebook's New R&D Machine, subhead: "Fewer Half-Baked Products Without User Input; 'We've Gotten More Humble.' " The last part is a quote from Chris Cox, Facebook's VP of product, talking about better handling of complaints about and fixes to the site. The article characterizes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as mellowing in his hacker attitude toward website changes and adopting a "decidedly deliberate approach to product development." The article calls Timeline the premier example, "a culmination of an 18-month process that included dozens of test versions and multiple focus groups."

The Journal's story goes on to say: "It isn't yet clear whether Timeline is resonating with users as the company prepares this week for its initial public offering. Many users have complained about the new format. But in contrast with other product launches--some of which inspired protests--the anger is more muted."

Based on Attensity's analysis, maybe it's not so muted:

Positive vs. negative sentiment toward Facebook Timeline.

Detail: what users dislike about Facebook Timeline.

Many of the testy comments are along the lines of "Damn you Facebook for forcing me onto a timeline."

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