10 Thoughts On Facebook

Popular social-networking site Facebook dropped a bomb on the tech world last week by opening up its doors to applications built on top of what they call Facebook Platform. Here are ten quick thoughts on Facebook, social networking, and the future.
  1. Just because it’s not as large (yet) as MySpace doesn’t mean it isn’t better. It also doesn’t mean that it can’t make more money. Preteens can’t buy as much stuff as older people.

  2. Who uses Facebook is changing. What started as a network only for college kids has expanded to include alumni, high school students, and pretty much everyone else. On one hand, this expansion of focus hurts them as far as ad/feature targeting, but because they have been so good at isolating various “networks,” and including users as part of multiple networks, all of the information you include in your profile can be used to get a very good picture of what exactly a “Brown Alum, living in New York City, working for Altria” is interested in and looking to buy.

  3. Facebook’s “Status Updates” feature is a rip-off of Twitter, and it poses grammar and identity issues by attempting to convert your first-person answer into a third-person update for your friends.

  4. You should be able to subscribe to an RSS feed for the News Feed and receive these updates (profile changes, added photos, status changes) via SMS, too. What if I decide I want to publish all of my personal profile changes and updates on my own website, or as a widget on my (hehe) MySpace page? I want to be able to subscribe to certain friends and see their activity without signing in to facebook.com. Email digests might be nice for some, though I’ve no particular desire for that. Pulling in data from other apps and services is a great start, but let us take it outside, remix it, tumbl it, feed it.

  5. We need more options on the “How Do You Know This Person?” Glaringly absent is “Well, I don’t really know her, but I read her blog.”

  6. Make it easier - much, much easier - to do an Advanced Search.

  7. Let us export a vCard with our friends’ contact info like we used to be able to. If the information is made available to us already, I can get it all anyway - you’ve done nothing but make it inconvenient. Let those who want to share share.

  8. How about letting us add personal tags to our friends that only we can see? Let us organize and sort our friends however we want and in as many ways as possible.

  9. The social network of the future is not a destination. It is a distribution center for information. Give us more ways to get data in automatically (blog feeds, Flickr photos, status updates, browsing/search and del.icio.us history, Amazon wish lists and purchases - anything we choose to provide to our network should be fair game), and give us more ways to get data out (mobile, iPod syncing, RSS, Growl, GMail Chat, Jabber, AIM, SMS, Email, Second Life, blog widgets). You should be able to use a social network without ever signing in to the main site. Decentralize.

  10. Get some relevant ads. Let us “befriend” our favorite retailers, our favorite film directors, our favorite web services, our favorite brands - and allow them to sell stuff to me. Use the data I provide to serve up some appropriate text ads. Don’t assume that because I’m on Facebook, I have any need for Career Builder’s services. My profile says I have a job. Maybe I’m not looking for one. For sure I’m not looking for one that Career Builder could help me with. Maybe 37 Signals’ job board, or TechCrunch’s. Call up Google, seriously. The best ads are the ones I want to see. If it’s truly targeted, I’ll be happy to get pitched to in my feed reader. And I’ll probably buy something, or at least bookmark it to buy later. Maybe I’ll even share it with my friends. Maybe we’ll start talking about it, start creating content about it. If you show you know us, and show you care, we will care too.