Facebook's Bad User Interface

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    What I want in a social network is all the things that FB is worst at:
    • Ability to customize what I see: who and topics.
    • Ability to customize what I share, how it looks, and who sees what.
    • Competent searching, organization, and management of my stuff
    • Competent feedback

Facebook fails at all that that. It doesn't give me control of the layout, nor easy management of people and what they see, nor what and who I get to see. Searching is crap, there's no grouping or reference for what I make available or see from individuals (being able to show some people some categories of posts, or block them from some people), and if I don't like something, I can't even put a thumbs down. Then there's the lack of privacy controls, them force-feeding me (or censoring) stories I don't like, or things that just don't work. One friend is a font of information but will load 30 art posts, another gets drunk and plays music with some service that tells me every song he's listened to, and a third spews dimwitted politics from places like ThinkProgress. I like all off them, but want to block that one sector (or at least group them up into single updates, for when I'm in the mood). This is basic stuff that Facebook can't figure out. Incompetently bad User Interface.

Sum of the parts


Each of these decisions has a reason, but they're wrong.

Individually, they may increase stickiness, or prevent things like too dislikes might hurt feelings and teach people to post less or resist the platform. But that only works in the short term, in the long term they don't get needed feedback, and so people unfollow/unfriend/or block. And for each publisher it doesn't hurt their feelings of, it alienates a dozen or more readers who can't feedback (or feedback in more verbal and even more damaging ways).

Facebook is known for A|B testing of a features -- and then accepting the results. Even ignoring that you can often taint an A|B test, the stupidity of thinking it shows what you think it shows, shows they don't have a clue what they're doing. What the dimwitted geniuses miss, is what holds true for A|B testing of a feature in the short term, might not hold over an aggregate of features or over time. Like the reader getting more frustrated and leaving the platform or blocking a user. The A|B test prevented short term usage decrease, by increasing the odds of long term decrease.

The most basic features like:

  • browsing everything you posted (or batch cleanup, export, etc), is hard
  • The ability to auto-purge your posts after time: doesn't exist
  • You do something simple like blocking someone, they remain in messenger panel
  • I turn off notifications, or unfollow someone, I still get notified

Some are bugs, but they're bugs that have existed for 10+ years -- that's either gross incompetence, a failure to prioritize, or by design.

In 2015 an Intern Candidate stupidly pointed out a security flaw in FB Messenger that he'd been trying to get them to fix for 3 years, and was fired (uninvited) for being public about it[1]. Don't get me wrong, the kid was an idiot to spit on the company that had just hired him. But FB was more stupid to have not fixed the bug, and lost the PR war by hiring him without fixing the bug first, or working with him to mitigate the damage and remedy the problem. Though, if he could do that much damage from the outside, I'm not sure I would have wanted him inside the fold either -- he might try to effect positive change.

The point is either you believe that the politburo knows more than users, or you trust users to manage their own relationships. And Facebook never trusts the users and believes it needs to tell them what they want. They are like Steve Jobs worst character flaws (his arrogance), without any of his insight or ability to occasionally listen.

Facebook is 3 things: bad interface, bad management, and biased policies. I want a social network that gives me control of what I see and share -- both to my friends and to advertisers. I realize they need to make a buck, and my information is their product, but the point is you can still give users the illusions of control. But Zuckerberg seems to have falling into the egocentric pit that many young billionaires do, they think because they timed things well, and worked hard, and got lucky that they're smarter than everyone else. This makes them arrogant, less mature, and slower to grow than the average human: Dunning-Kruger, inflated by being surrounded by yes-men.



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