Facebook's stock has never been lower (with me) - Macleans.ca

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

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

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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