That’s it. I’m calling it. Facebook has jumped the shark. What was once a bastion of what the so-called Web 2.0 could be is now little more than MySpace in sheep clothing. It didn’t happen all at once. Perhaps Facebook thought they could gradually bring this in over time and train us into it. But when I even remember that I have an account with the site, and log in to find a million requests for odd things like “x me”, “superpoke”, and “flixster”, I know something has gone wrong.
Basically, Facebook went from being down in the count to essentially striking out. Let’s look at how it happened.
Strike One: The “News Feed” was forced upon the system late last year. Initially, this RSS-esque feed of everything you are doing and thinking about in your life was made public to everyone and their grandma with no privacy options whatsoever. Whatever you did on the site was trackable by virtually anyone else on the site. At least, to your immediate knowledge, those people that you had added as friends. A large public outcry soon followed, which forced the site to allow users to control what did and didn’t make it to the feed. Which helped, but didn’t wholly take away the quickly dubbed “Stalkerbook” feel that the site now had.
Strike Two: Facebook opened up to everyone. Ev – Er – Ey – One. If you can remember, the site had originally been simply for college students and a few alumni here and there. It allowed for a closely knit group and was an extremely helpful way of keeping in touch with friends. But then Facebook opened it up to high schools. Which wasn’t that bad, us college folk shouldn’t have all the fun. But then it opened it up to Planet Earth. More specifically “SW33t DrEMZ 32” formerly of MySpace. Us original Facebookers didn’t want this. These types of people would clutter up the system. And of course, an open system would allow for spammers. Even more scary was the fact that your mom could now sign up for Facebook and see each and every little thing you were up to. Were we being elitist? Hell yeah. Facebook was an escapist island from the posers and horiffic design of MySpace. We were there because we chose to get away from what an open platform would invite.
Strike Three: Applications. Let’s run down the list of the many sins of applications. They’re intrusive. They collect information. They segment the user base. They clutter up the welcome page. It goes on. But do you know the scariest part of applications? Every time you add one, you get this message.
Every single time you add a new application, you are granting another third party access to every bit of information that you have made available on Facebook. All of your favorite movies, books, TV shows, where you’ve worked, where you’ve lived, even your pictures. Granted, some applications are genuinely useful and the developer probably has no need for your information. But seeing as advertisers and investors are chomping at the bits to either buy Facebook or its limitless marketing information, don’t be shocked at all to see over two thirds of these applications come out as trojan horses fishing for that information.
As you can see, mighty Facebook has struck out. No longer is it safe, no longer is it well designed, no longer is it exclusive. It’s simply MySpace in a friendly blue disguise. Many have feared that once a Google, Yahoo, or News Corp shills out well over a billion dollars for the site it would become bland and intrusive. No need to worry about that. It’s well beyond that. Now is the opportune time for a quirky start up group to start the Anti-Facebook in the same way that the original Facebook was the Anti-Myspace. Soon enough there will be a diaspora of users who simply have had enough and refuse to log in.