Is Facebook Getting Less User-Friendly?

    August 20, 2012
    Chris Crum

Facebook is starting to do a lot more things to cater to businesses, but is it becoming less user-friendly in the process? Now that the company is public, it’s going to have to keep investors happy, and that means making money – hence all of the advertising-related changes we’re seeing. Last week, Facebook stock hit its lowest point so far, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apparently found to be quite painful. I wonder what additional monetization strategies are in store for Facebook’s future.

When Facebook released its first earnings report last month, it announced that it it has 955 million active users, with 552 of them using Facebook on a daily basis. Facebook’s great challenge will be to keep those numbers growing, rather than slipping, while also finding more ways to make money off of them. Hopefully, for users’ sake, they’ll be able to do it in ways that aren’t annoying.

Do you think Facebook is getting less user-friendly, or is it as good as ever? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Facebook is currently testing a feature that could turn off a lot of users – promoted posts in the News Feed from pages that you don’t “like” and that not even your friends “like”. If this moves beyond the testing phase, you’ll start seeing more ads in your News Feed, and for things that you quite possibly have no interest in or even a social connection to.

“Starting soon, we are beginning a very small test that will allow marketers to promote page posts to people beyond their fans in the news feed,” Facebook is quoted as saying.

A WebProNews reader commented on the story, “I am finding myself more an more annoyed with facebook lately. I barely ever use it anymore. This is just one more reason for me to never log in again.”

We recently reported on another promoted posts-related feature that had some users upset. This was a type of post that appears in the News Feed, and shows you when one or more of your friends “likes” a certain page, and shows a recent post from that page. Depending on the post, these friends may not always be pleased with the display.

At the time, ZDNet shared the perfect example:

Just because your friends “liked”, does not necessarily mean that they want to be used to help peddle lube.

Considering the recent Chick-fil-A controversy, it’s not hard to imagine people who may have enjoyed eating the restaurant’s sandwiches in the past and “liked” their Facebook page, only to have Facebook saying that they “like” it, while displaying a “recent post” that he or she politically disagrees with. Chick-fil-A, by the way, became one of the fastest-growing social brands on Facebook following that whole thing.

These are just a couple of examples of where we’re seeing Facebook seemingly putting business interests above users’.

Some users simply aren’t happy with the direction Facebook’s interface is going. The company is still in the process of getting the Timeline pushed out to all users, and as this continues, there is still a fair amount of bitter reaction to the major design changes. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of users who actually prefer the timeline, but some people just flat out don’t like it. It doesn’t really matter as far as Facebook is concerned, however. All users should have the Timeline by sometime this fall, the company recently told us.

Some users are just plain bored. A couple months ago, Reuters and Ipsos ran a poll finding that 34% of users (more than a third of respondents) find Facebook boring. These users are spending less time on Facebook than six months prior. Given that the poll itself is over two months old, I wonder how the numbers have trended in the meantime. According to Reuters’ these users complained that Facebook is either “boring,” “not relevant,” or “not useful”.

Luckily, third parties are continuing to find ways to keep a lot of Facebook users interested. It’s a good thing Facebook isn’t treating developers the way Twitter is. The Timeline, despite those who hate it, caters to this quite nicely. On the other hand, Facebook apps have always annoyed some users in one way or another. It wasn’t all that long ago when you could hardly get on the site without seeing a plethora of updates about what people were doing on Farmville.

Of course, when you have close to a billion active users, you’re never going to please everyone. There’s always someone longing for the days before Facebook even opened up beyond school campuses.

Do you think Facebook is moving in the right direction? Let us know what you think in the comments.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.