Hey Facebook, why do you suck so bad?

Why does Facebook suck so badly? Think about it -- the "place for friends" has over a billion users, but its actions tell us it doesn't care about them.


Facebook Messenger

Take Facebook Messenger -- the app no one asked for. How does Facebook get people to install the app? By ransoming messages sent to them by their friends on their mobile device unless they install this other app. The original Facebook app still sees these messages but just doesn’t show them. It's an annoying decision that pleases no one, except Facebook.

There are good reasons people don't want to install a second app to do what the original app did already, the most significant being how poor their experiences are with its existing apps. This may seem like a harsh criticism, but one of the apps to delete if you want to preserve battery life is Facebook -- the app seems to suck battery life. What does the company do? Rather than improving battery life it forces users to install a second app that (it seems likely) will suck even more.

You are the product

Then there are the ads -- those so-called "targeted" ads based on user behaviour. That's why if you mention an innocuous word ("radish" for example) you'll find your feed invaded by ads promoting gardening gloves, vegetable knives, seed catalogues. And you'll see the same ads on other sites Facebook works with for a profit. Not that these things work so well.

The great thing about Facebook is its incredible privacy protections -- or it would be if the service actually offered them. Reluctance seems to characterize every user-focused security compromise Facebook makes. It wants to sell you, your life and your relationships, it wants to make that data available to advertisers and others for a nice fat Facebook profit. Forget about the feeble Do Not Track protection, just like Yahoo and Google, Facebook does not honor it. You may not want to participate in such activity, but you have no choice.

And beyond advertising, ensuring good security on Facebook is a Byzantine process at best.

Relationships count

Despite it all we stick with Facebook, we use it to keep up with friends, family, acquaintances. Those important relationships keep us using the social network, despite, not because, of what Facebook offers. That's why when it decides to force us to install new apps or stick sponsored posts in our feed (assuming it hasn't already changed that feed into something that no longer echoes what our mates are doing) we grit our teeth and tolerate it.

You really have to hand it to Facebook. It had a chance to build loyalty with over a billion users -- all it needed to do was focus on their needs. Instead, displaying a spark of genius worthy of Rome's Emperor Nero, it sacrificed this opportunity in favor of forcing customers to use things they don't like, want or need. It has the user numbers, but doesn't really have the loyalty.

Instead, annoyed by its seeming disregard for their needs, most anecdotal reports (just check Twitter) suggest low customer satisfaction with Facebook suggesting they don't really want to use its other services. Has this global service with a global reach created this situation through incompetence, or by design? Is it good management to run a service that’s used by millions but so little liked? You tell me.

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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