Facebook’s stock has never been lower (with me)

I can’t quite delete my account, but I look at it less and less

Sean MacEntee/Flickr

Facebook is worth less and less to me.  No, I didn’t buy any stock–I speak only of the site’s value to me as a user. It’s tanking.

Like everyone else on Facebook, I’ve always been ambivalent about Facebook. The shameless FB addict, gleefully abandoning any notion of privacy as they sext, post and poke, is mostly a media creation. The Pew Research Center studied teenagers and found that they actually care deeply about their privacy online–who sees what is a big concern. They just don’t understand how to control their Facebook privacy, and neither do I. Between Facebook’s ever-changing and ever-expanding Privacy Policy and the constant addition of new and conflicting features, I’ve lost the plot. I don’t know who will see the things I post any more than I know a “group” from a “page” or a “list” from a “subscription.” I’m in the dark, and I wonder if Facebook likes it that way. For years, the site grew more and more complicated as it got more and more popular. Whatever impulses I had to abandon it were overruled by the sheer necessity of using it.

Once upon a time, I needed Facebook to know what was happening. It was where I learned about tomorrow’s parties and gossiped about yesterday’s. It was where I extended my connections to new people I encountered, situating them within my social universe and picking up clues about who they were and where they fit into my life. It was where I took the cultural pulse of my community, figuring out what people were reading, watching, and listening to. It was not just fun, but useful. I valued it.

Looking at Facebook today, I increasingly feel like I could easily do without it. My News Feed is a mess. Updates from people I barely know and companies I don’t remember “liking” clog up the works. A few over-active posters hog the screen with their indiscriminate musings or flagrant self-promotion. Is there something good buried down there, somewhere? Could I edit my settings to receive more relevant stuff? Maybe, but I can’t be bothered. Besides, I know that Facebook periodically takes it upon itself to reshuffle their algorithms and roll out some new system of news prioritization. The idea is that they’re always trying to make my News Feed more relevant, but might they also be trying to get as much sponsored content in there as possible? In any event, I’ve never gotten less out of this crucial part of my screen.

The rest is little better. On the left I see Apps and Groups I haven’t used or visited in months or years, and on the right I see events posted by spammy acquaintances and “People You May Know” who I don’t. Then come the ads, which despite Facebook’s wealth of data on me, could not be less relevant (is there something in an old comment I left that gave FB the idea that I might ever drink Bud Light Lime?).

As a friend (and former prolific Facebooker) put it to me recently, Facebook has turned into an old filing cabinet. I can’t bring myself to chuck it, but I look at its contents less and less. I’ll leave it to the market analysts to explain exactly why its public offering is failing, but to me, Facebook has been a “FAIL” for months.

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown




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Facebook’s stock has never been lower (with me)

  1. While your thoughts are not uncommon, and we’re feeling quite similar, where are you now getting the same information about your social groups? Have you moved back to email and phone, or are you replacing it with something different?

  2. I have never used FaceBook, and a this point don’t intend to, I keep my social cicle quite small and can keep in touch by other means. But there was a point, perhpas in 2007-08, when I was tempted, because I actually felt I was missing out on things. My wife would tell me something about a friend of *mine* from university that she only tangentially knew, and I would ask, “how do you know that?” and she would respond simply, smuggly, “Facebook”. That hasn’t happened for quite some time.

  3. A couple other ‘dislikes’ about facebook:
    - the required interaction with 3rd party applications to see a significant portion of what is posted in my feed – why show me links for socialcam if I don’t use that application?
    - repeatedly suggesting people I may know as ‘friends’. Sometimes the people I meet turn out to be ‘not friends’ and Facebook doesn’t have a clear case to handle this. The former boss who fired you or your wife’s ex-husband may be examples of faces one would rather not have pop up in their feed as suggested ‘friends’.

    Your friend’s filing cabinet analogy seems quite apt but I don’t think it has much to do with market valuations. It has everything to do with a lack of attention to a user experience.

  4. Well, good luck deleting your account if you ever get to that point.

    • I’ve done it and it works well enough. I don’t labour under any misapprehension that I’ve really deleted the things I’ve put there in the past, however. I’m sure it’s all sitting there.

  5. Hi Jesse,

    Facebook is legally obliged to completely wipe out your account if you so desire.
    However it doesn’t show this info clearly enough.
    If you want to permanently delete your facebook account , here are the instructions:

    http://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=224562897555674

    Best regards

    Not a Facebook fan either.

  6. Jesse drinks Bud Light Lime. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

  7. Asides from the privacy issues, which are whole other discussion, I don’t see the things you list as being big problems. Step 1 is only friend friends. Step 2 is don’t use apps. Step 3 is hide or unfriend people whose posts you don’t like reading (1 click or 2 clicks, certainly not hard). Ads are everywhere and irrelevant content are everywhere on the web. To the left of this article are ads and links and a poll I don’t care about.

    In the meantime FaceBook is a decent place for conversing and sharing things with a range of people I actually know. I’ve found I have more in depth conversations with friends and acquaintances there than any other online medium. Google+ could do the same but the people I want to talk to aren’t there and I don’t find any substantive difference on the privacy front between Google and FaceBook.

  8. Gotta love it – it’s been whole months since Jesse’s been put off by F.B. More than weeks even. Holy cow, even though he`s sounds more sophisticated than the average 16 year old, in fact he isn`t. Hey Jess, welcome to the world of sounding absolutely feckless. Or shallow. Of like a tech journalist.

    Who cares. Except perhaps for Jian Ghomeshi.

    • so true Jesse! the timeline is so stupid as is half of this website!

  9. A little disappointed not to see references to something a little more current in the rant than a privacy rant. You know exactly who sees what by the symbol beside what you are posting.

    Facebook has devalued for me,since trying to use the site from an iPad2 and discovering not only do I need an APP to post photos to my page, even with the APP, I cannot post photos to my pages..

    If you want privacy try every.me.

    • On second thought,since people can take screen shots , privacy on the web is only available if you set up a password encoded blog or forum and you are the only one with access to it.

      The top form of Cyberbullying is the posting of private messages publicly. Do not write anything online that you would not want your grandmother or grandchildren to read. A secret is not a secret once it’s shared.

    • The meat in his argument sandwich is his feeling that there’s little-to-nothing of substance on his Facebook feed. It’s also why I deleted my account last year. There was nothing of use on it and the whole feed was taken over by advertisements from companies, a few people who practically lived on there, and little of any substance to speak of. A complete waste.

      Privacy isn’t a dead letter on Facebook insofar that we all (at least should) understand that things you post will slip through the nominal fence. What made it more real for many people was the largely unannounced harvesting of your mobile address book last year. Sure, it was in the EULA, but everybody knows that nobody reads them. Not illegal, but unsavoury nevertheless.

      As the person above mentioned, Facebook went public precisely because they’re plateauing. With many people such as Jesse, myself, and countless others choosing not to participate, the company’s largest challenge will be to keep a significant number of people contributing personal data. If people choose to move on (and they always will), then Facebook’s value proposition diminishes. If they find a way to keep people contributing all that personal data, they will do well.

  10. Facebook knows its dying..thats why its gone public..now the people that created it can become “super rich” off the backs of the people that invest in them..afterall thats how corporate America works..I am not really sure how you would put a value on a company that doesn’t make a product..or..provides a service..is it providing a service?

  11. Perhaps you should learn to use the functions. There are simple solution to all of your complaints.

  12. Just install AdBlock. Your FB screen will be so much cleaner and Zuckerberg’s revenue so much smaller…

  13. The problem Facebook has is that their updates have made what should be fairly simple (post management, privacy settings) and complicated it all. There are certainly ways around everything, but why is it so hard to do now, when it was once so simple? I used to be able to clean-up my friends list on one page, just going through and X-ing the people I wanted to delete. Now I have to go through hoops to do it, and why?

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