• 05/17/2012
    5:40 PM
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How Facebook Ignores Its Users

Facebook consulted with users on Timeline more than on any previous product change. Users hated it, but Facebook gave it to them anyway.
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."


re: How Facebook Ignores Its Users

My concern is that no matter what I do, I cannot block content from those who are not "Friends". The Time Line has dismantled a key bit of security from my perspective.

re: How Facebook Ignores Its Users

You're seeing content in your news feed from people who are not friends? Or are you talking about people sending you messages? Or people posting items to your profile/Timeline? Is that a security issue, or just an annoyance?

I haven't seen any change along those lines. I get friend requests from people I don't know, but I think that's the only content I'm seeing from them. However, truth is my friend network is a bit of a mess, and I might not be noticing something that you are.

re: How Facebook Ignores Its Users

Can't stand Timeline. The security has gone way down.

re: How Facebook Ignores Its Users

who are FB customers? marketing, not users. FB is all about market research -- the business of "mining" data about people. FB services are just the bait they use to lure the unsuspecting

re: How Facebook Ignores Its Users

Right, and when Timeline came to business pages, some moderately paranoid page owners wondered how much FB was redesigning the experience to minimize the effectiveness of free advertising (through social media engagement) as opposed to paid advertising. Some of the opportunities for customer conversation were lessened in the transition from the Wall to Timeline because of the way Timeline amps up the primacy of the page owner's voice.

re: How Facebook Ignores Its Users

I have concerns with facebook security. I have even contacted Mark Zuckerberg by way of facebook. I informed him that port scans from the facebook IP number where showing up in my security system.
I also shared my concerns about a facebook game that is forcing people to select certain options other than the facebook requirements for settings to play the game.
I never received a response back to my concerns. It is sad that is seems as though facebook users concerns seem to mean nothing to facebook.
I also notice 100 % increases in spam in my email. In a matter of time it may end up just like the other social networks out there and fall apart.

re: How Facebook Ignores Its Users

After 3+ years on facebook my level of engagement has dropped to nothing - so I left. I noticed that the increased noise from timeline and the ticker made it more difficult to filter out the stuff I did not care about. Instead of fun, facebook became a chore and no one is paying me for it.

re: How Facebook Ignores Its Users

Is there another social network that works better for you? Are you a Twitter or Google+ fan?

re: How Facebook Ignores Its Users

Tried Twitter, still have account but hardly ever login anymore, less than 6 times in 9 months. I found most of the content juvenile. Looked at Google+ and decided not to bother, no one I know admits using Google+ which I find surprising. LinkedIn is nice for employment networking. After experiencing geocities, yahoo groups, myspace and facebook, I find social media is really more of a "let's show you more advertising" type of thing, which is about as interesting as watching someone get a haircut. The "services" offered in exchange for free use of facebook are not worth the noise of the advertising, the ticker and paid placements in my former news feed.