Facebook’s Declining Value

First appeared at Techpinions.com

When I first discovered Facebook I thought it was so clever and useful. The company created a new way to connect with friends and business associates, something that was less intrusive than a phone call or text and timelier than a holiday card. It enabled me to get an update from my daughter while she was on vacation and for me to make contact with old friends, business associates and schoolmates I had lost track of.

I loved the product and, as an early adopter and tech columnist, I raved to others about how useful it was.  But over the past year or so it’s become much worse, at least when judged by the way I was using it. Instead of seeing a stream of messages from my friends around the world, I see all sorts of other ads and posts that have no value to me and get in the way of Facebook’s original value.

The ads are understandable, considering the company needs a way to pay its way. But I also see stories that have very little interest to me. I subscribe to the news organizations I choose. And I don’t like seeing news from ghost sources with no news gathering organization behind them.

But putting aside these intrusions, my original feed of posts from friends is gone. Posts are no longer sent in chronological order, I see the same post repeated a day or two later for no apparent reason and don’t see many posts that I should be seeing. My hunch is I’m seeing an older post because I liked it, and someone later commented on it, but that’s just a guess, and really, I don’t care about a comment from a stranger.

Working in the world of product development, it’s rare that I’ve seen a company turn a great product into one that’s so deficient. Yet the quality of the Facebook product, by all measures, is so much worse than it once was.

Yes, I know that Facebook spends lots of time to add features to extend the time we spend on the site. But spending more time is worse than spending less time to do what you want and then leave. In fact, the premise of Facebook making changes to cause us to spend more time is not necessarily a measure of how much we’re enjoying it.

When I get into a rental car and need to spend 10 minutes to figure out how the controls work instead of three minutes, that’s not a better experience.

But there’s another reason that Facebook has lost its appeal. That’s because I’ve lost all confidence in the company to address the issues with the Russian troll farms. It seems each day Facebook has another crisis and is clearly in cover up mode. They use biometric data without permission, they deceive us on how badly Instagram was compromised, and they just continue to cover up.

So not only have I lost confidence in the product, but also in the company.  If they had been more forthcoming and given me some assurance that they recognized these issues, I might have stuck around.

And one more thing that’s so puzzling. Where is Sheryl Sandberg, their once articulate and outspoken COO? She was so impressive when I heard her on her book tour, yet she seems completely missing in action now.

It’s a shame because if they weren’t so obtuse and stubborn, I might have stuck around. But I just can’t. I’ve just left Facebook as have the rest of my family. All of us are just tired of the cesspool we need to wade through to see those posts from our friends, associates, and each other.


by Phil Baker