A few weeks ago, during and directly following the 2010 F8 conference, Facebook announced some pretty astounding changes that created a rush of excitement across the internet. Some of that excitement was happy and positive and some of it, like that coming from this particular Blog URL, was a bit on the angry side of excited. Maybe even apoplectic, to reference Hawthorne. I, among others, was not pleased as punch about my friends being able to share my cute little button nose with anyone who might wander upon the wonder of Pandora (.com, not the world of Avatar). More than that, I was disappointed that people on Facebook, like random family members and people I’ve been friends with since I was in nursery school, were not alerted about all of the privacy changes going on.
There were a lot of open letters, diagrams on how Facebook privacy has shifted, blogs telling people like me to kind of suck it up, and more. From Mark Zuckerberg and the rules of Facebook, there was mostly silence.
Then last weekend, the news hit that only pages with 10,000 or more fans (likers?) would be able to have customized pages. The outrage that poured out from the realms of business and developers was too much to bear. Facebook flip-flopped. “Oops…that was a bad idea. We might do it again, but not right now, k?”
I thought to myself at the time that if Facebook was so willing to “reconsider” or pull the plug on this action, why do it in the first place?
Now, today, Zuckerberg is finally making the rounds, announcing that Facebook is working on ways to make sure people have granular control in a bit more of a simple, less rocket science kind of way.
It might be that I’m just cranky because I stayed up too late watching Lost, but this kind of frustrates me. I’ll be honest.
Stick to your guns
It’s true that I’ve done a lot of complaining about Facebook lately, but I have to say that I kind of gave those folks a grudging respect. Showing people who visit CNN.com my thumbs up on a story is not a high priority for me, nor is sharing my friends’ information. But Facebook thought that this was the battlefield of the next revolution, and they seemed to be standing their ground even in the face of a fair amount of pressure.
But now, weeks later, the sand castle is being taken out to sea. The wall is being knocked down. And other metaphors. What happened to changing the way the world uses the internet? What happened to just plain changing the world?
That Facebook launches ideas without careful consideration and then reneges on anything that seems particularly itchy is not the best business practice to follow. Now, I realize that Mark Zuckerberg does not really need any of my advice right now. I can appreciate that I am just one of 400,000,000 people suckling at the nutritious well of friendship and content that is Facebook. All of that aside, I would respect Facebook more if instead of simply flip-flopping they took the time to ease concerns but say, “No, this is our course. We really believe this is the right way to go. How can we make this work for you?” Barring that, responding more swiftly might make the flip-flopping seem more reactive rather than a begrudging, late reaction to a lot of angry customers.