Friday, March 8, 2013

I'm One of the 61%

I'm one of the 61% of the Facebook users who have taken a sabbatical. It all started about a year ago when I took a vacation with no internet access. Despite the fact that I had glorious photos of tropical sunsets and hardened lava fields by the sea, I suddenly had no desire to fire up Facebook and share them. The week away from going online made me realize what a time-sink Facebook had become. Sure, I missed interacting with my cousins and friends who lived far away, but I had a ton of work to do, and Facebook fell by the wayside.

I took it back up again for awhile in the late fall after reconnecting in person with my far-flung cousins. But dropped out one more time after reading, yet again, how Facebook would be sharing more of my life with advertisers. I also abhorred the new Timeline.

Now that I've heard the latest news about Facebook's face-lift (aka latest redesign), I may drop out completely. Fully 20% of Facebook's users have dropped out, erasing their profiles completely.

Today (March 8, 2013), I read in The New York Times that: "Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, said at a news conference that he wanted Facebook to be “the best personalized newspaper in the world.” And like a newspaper editor, he wants the “front page” of Facebook to be more engaging — in particular on the smaller screens of mobile devices."

If I want a newspaper, I'm going to read the New York Times. If I want big pictures, videos and information about celebrities, artists or authors to appear on my "front page", then I'm going to use a personalized Yahoo! Ironically, I dropped Yahoo! as my starting homepage when it got too cheesy, frivolous and ad-oriented. (And Marissa Mayer hasn't improved it much.) If I want to watch video ads, I'm going to watch TV or YouTube. That is not why I used Facebook.

Furthermore, I've been reading that professional sites (like the ones many entrepreneurs and authors have) only get shown to all their friends/fans if they pay for advertising. Facebook denies this, but I've heard the complaint one too many times. (See New York Times, March 7)

As far as I'm concerned, Zuck is ruining his baby. He's turned this really cool, fun way to interact with friends and family and into a blatant commercial venture designed to send me more ads. (It's like taking a pretty girl and making her up for a kiddie beauty pageant.) That's not my idea of a social network. Zuck's original idea was to create a place that was exclusive. You could only connect with people who invited you. That's what set it apart from MySpace. That was the thing that separated his idea from the one the Winklevosses thought of. That feeling will is now be all gone.

Usually, it take professional management to destroy a great entrepreneurial vision. This time, I believe the founder is doing it all by himself.  

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