Why Facebook Sucks & Why it Doesn’t

    October 15, 2007

Why Facebook sucks (Scripting News) Dave Winer has a post out called "Why Facebook Sucks." Dave says that Facebook basically sucks because like many social networks it’s a silo. Lots of input but not so easy output.

From Dave:

"I mean, I understand why they want me to tell them everyone I know, but how about letting me download a copy to my computer, so I can back it up, use it on my iPhone or Blackberry, bequeath it to my heirs, write a book about it, or give a copy to Google or Netflix or Yahoo, or you get the idea.

It’s the last thing they don’t want me to do, give a copy to a competitor of theirs. And they hope I won’t notice that I’m doing all this work and not insisting on at least being their equal when it comes to my data."

Personally I agree with Dave about this. The fact that Facebook data is not so easily portable sucks. The first time I got really burned with non portability of data was with Flickr. I spent hours and hours and hours and hours tagging my photos on Flickr. Only to learn later that portability of this data was not an easy thing at all. What’s worse Flickr forced me to downsize many of my photographs (Flickr has a 10MB file size limit, which is smaller than many of my photo files from my 5D). So even if I could find a suitable download option that would somehow reunite my photos on my hard drive with my meta data it would be a near impossible task and I wouldn’t want to replace my larger size better quality originals with lesser quality Flickr copies with meta data.

I learned this lesson the hard way and now I enter all my meta data at the file level. This way when I upload the files the meta data goes with it but is still owned and controlled by me at the file level. Same goes for geotags on my photos. I geotag locally with GeoTagr for the Mac and Google Earth.

So the question is am I digging myself into another hole by investing time and energy in stuff on Facebook when the system is closed. The answer is probably yes. But I spend far less time on Facebook than I ever did on Flickr.

But so while Dave’s right and this sucks about Facebook, I still use it. Why? Because there are a lot of things that don’t suck.

First and foremost Facebook has become an adjunct sort of email for me. So many people are on it. The difference is though that only my contacts can email me on Facebook.

My regular email is all but dead. Well, since my Mac just died and the hard drive will likely be replaced I probably will actually be committing email suicide. That’s not so bad though. I had over 5,000 emails in my inbox. Most of them useless worthless things that do nothing but waste time. It is hard using my old email because navigating through so much spam proved so difficult. I had fairly aggressive spam filtering on my email client on my Mac. When I lost my Mac I tried using the webmail associated with my hosting. Impossible. Completely overwhelmed by spam. I probably get at least 400 spam messages a day. Then there is all that email from PR people wanting me to look at their latest gizmo or gadget, people wanting to use my photos for free, and lots and lots of Zooomr related email.

So one way that Facebook doesn’t suck is as a place that I can go to get email that has sort of a built in only people I know can email me filter sort of thing. I suppose I could try to find a solution for my actual email but I’m lazy and haven’t gotten that far with it yet.

Another way that Facebook doesn’t suck is with their API. Dave says that Faebook is kind of closed with their address book. But with the API you can make Facebook less closed. For instance. I don’t post photos on Facebook. Their photo sharing sucks. Their file size limits are worse than Flickr and I don’t really like the presentation.


With the recent Facebook API stuff, John Wesley made a really cool Zooomr RSS app that puts my Zooomr stream right on my Facebook profile. So I still get my photos on Facebook, but don’t have to actually do any work to get them on there. So that’s kind of cool. More on that here.

So another way that Facebook sucks though is with all the outside development I get invited to so much crap that I’m not interested in and it clutters my righthand sidebar on my main facebook page. Purity test invitations, movie compatibility requests, human pets invitiation, etc. I suppose I could just unfriend the worst offenders, but that just doesn’t feel very nice to me.

The main thing that Facebook does right though is the personal news feed. I don’t know how they do it. But they filter it kind of just right. They focus on things that are interesting to anyone. People hooking up or breaking up, some people that you are more interested than others etc.