How Facebook is Becoming the Next Myspace

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 Posted by Faraz Khan
Some predicted the downfall of Facebook a couple years ago. Some are predicting that it will happen any moment now. Others foresee the end in the distant future. Whether it comes fast or slow, Facebook will fade when the next best thing comes along. The question is: what will be the cause of Facebook's demise? Below are the things we foresee being the force that drives users away.

Broadcast By Default, Hunt for the Off Switch

A fairly universal understanding of life is that things should be opt IN, not opt OUT. For example, credit cards. You opt in when you get one. Imagine if banks could decide that, since you have a checking account with them, they'll automatically enroll you for credit cards, without publishing any sort of notice on your account when you log in, and if you don't want it, hey, you can simple opt out.
That wouldn't fly so well, would it?
Facebook doesn't seem to understand this little nugget of wisdom. The way they seem to see it, you're on their website—they can do with you what they wish. Never mind the entire fiasco over who owns photos placed on the website. Now Facebook is actively giving your information away by default, and you have to opt OUT of it.
If that weren't bad enough, the ability to opt out isn't as easy as you'd think. A banner across the top of the screen saying something like "WE'RE GIVING YOUR INFORMATION AWAY, CLICK HERE TO STOP THE MADNESS" would be nice. Instead you have to hunt through three different sections, into the subsections of those sections, to find the little radio button you click to keep your online life private.
That is not cool. In a world where home values can be looked up online, where probable salary numbers are just a click away, where your home can be zoomed in on via a web browser, where your cellphone can be beamed coupons based on your habits, where web advertisements target you in ways that are just a wee too familiar, how many users are going to happily maintain an account on a website that is actively trading pieces of their online lives to the highest bidder?
Not many.

Rogue Applications

You have to authorize an application. This is a good security feature, in that it prevents applications you don't even know exist from plastering your wall with crap. The problem, in this case, is the people. Some people don't use a lot of common sense, much like when it comes to sending away banking information to phishers or opening an attachment on an email from someone they don't know.
Individuals with less than proper intent recognize this security loophole—we'll call it the Human Authorized Annoyance Loophole—and create malicious applications that look appealing. Uninformed or clueless users access and authorize these applications, which then post odd, disgusting, vulgar, or otherwise eyebrow-raising things on their friend's walls from under the user's name. In some cases, these rogue applications even toss in the targeted friend's name.
"Hey Jane Doe, check out this video I just saw! It's the most hilarious thing I've ever seen!"
And if they (the victim) click on this video which, as far as they can tell, is from a trusted friend, their account then becomes infected with this rogue application. The result is the spread of this application like a virus.
If you've any decently sized Facebook friends list, you've no doubt experienced at least one friend who has an account become so crippled by these annoying applications that you can't help but hide them, maybe even unfriend them. If these applications become so populous that wading through the junk on your Facebook page every morning makes you feel like you're stuck in a Hotmail inbox, what is the point of having an account?

The Paradigm of 'Friendship'

The thing about real life and friendship in the real world is that it has tiers. There is the tier of friends with whom you are closer to than family. There is the tier of friends that you see regularly, and who may be pleasant to be around, but for a variety of reasons, you just don't keep them this || close. Then there's family, which is scattered amongst different tiers. There are coworkers and bosses who rest on a different plane with their own tiers. Etc. Etc. Plainly spoken, some people are kept distant and out of the loop more than others. This is order amongst what would otherwise be chaos.
On Facebook, it doesn't work like that. You're friends, or you're not friends. If you're friends in real life with someone you can tolerate only in certain places for certain durations, you might find them unbearable online, where they can post to anything you say, where they can poke you and post things on your wall for everyone to see.
You can avoid friending these individuals…and then make them incredibly angry, or hurt, or whatever that particular friend feels like being.
"Why did you friend so and so, but not me?"
"Oh, I'm not good enough for your Facebook account?"
"I commented, and you never replied. You must hate me!"
So you can either friend them online and come to hate them in real life, or not friend them and have them hate you in real life. Options, options. Facebook turns friendship into an orchestrated dance of politics. In the real world:
Mother doesn't have to know about your dating life.
Grandma doesn't have to hear your bad language in the real world.
You can avoid Annoying Friend #1, #3, and #27 in real life.
You can carefully dictate who your boyfriend/girlfriend gets to meet during each phase of your relationship in real life.
But on Facebook, everybody's mashed together.

Professional Life

As companies take to the Internet for evaluating current and prospective employees, the reality of needing to maintain online privacy is more imperative than ever. People have been fired from their jobs and suspended from their schools for things posted on Facebook. The need for private things to remain private clashes with Zuckerberg's idea for Facebook, which is to be "Open". Though they have implemented privacy features across the accounts, they are either difficult to find (ala, the first section of this article), or they fail.
Facebook chat was recently down for a period of a couple hours after it was discovered that private chats could be viewed in real-time by friends. How about when Facebook implemented a privacy upgrade that left Zuckerberg's private photos visible to anyone who wanted to see them? These security breaches and unforeseen oopsies and unaccounted for changes may not be bothersome to some individuals, but for others, it could be a career-breaker. If Facebook continually proves that it is a liability due to its near-constant security holes and breaches and hiccups, can it truly expect uses to stick around and share their lives online while potentially putting their jobs on the line?


When the effort to maintain outweighs the benefits of the object being maintained, the object is no longer desirable. When your computer, car, or home has a small problem, you fix it. When that computer starts failing and the neighbors start breaking in at midnight and the car dies at every stop light, it is better to get rid of it/them and start over with something new. Can Facebook continue to thrive while users start to feel the burden of maintaining their account?

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