Coming soon: Clean up your Facebook profile

Post Image Apparently Facebook is gearing up to release a "profile clean-up" tool that, if enabled, will only keep a user’s top 12 applications on the main profile page, and will move the rest to an extended profile. They say they are implementing this feature in response to user feedback:

As time has gone on, we’ve received increased complaints from users that friends’ profiles are getting too cluttered, and that people are having trouble finding the information they are looking for on their friends’ profiles. On the other side, users are complaining that their own profiles are cluttered, and they have installed so many applications that it has become overwhelming to un-clutter it.

I can see how this fixes the latter problem, but how exactly does this help the user looking for their friend’s wall? As I understand it, the clean-up tool is an optional thing, meaning that unless a user cleans up their profile, it will still be overloaded as hell. I can think of more than a few friends who desperately need to get rid of their thousand applications. I don’t visit their profiles anymore, because it has become nearly impossible to do so!

What I’d really like is a "hide all applications across the site" button. Not that they’d ever give me that, but I can dream can’t I? Heck, while I’m at it an "automatically ignore all application requests" button would be nice too. Get on that will you Zuckerberg? And let me know when it’s done – kthxbye!

For more, check out ReadWriteWeb and FaceReviews.

Read: Facebook

Facebook dropping "is" from status updates

Post ImageI knew something was up! For the last week or so, all text message updates I have received from Facebook say something like "Kimberly Male is is eating dinner" – note the double "is". Also, I got a strange message from Facebook saying that texts were being turned off because I hadn’t sent a text to Facebook in the last 30 days. I had to go into my account and turn it on again, twice, before it started working.

The point is, they’ve been tinkering.

And now it appears the grammatically inflexible status updates feature is finally going to be fixed. Ding dong, the "is" is dead!

My sister gave me the heads up tonight that she could backspace the "is" from the input box, and then type whatever she wanted. I just checked it out, and I can do the same! Looks like the mobile site still contains a hardcoded "is" however.

The removal is obviously not yet complete, but hopefully it will be soon. Keep an eye out here, here, and here for updates.

Read: Facebook

In The Crosshairs: Facebook

Post ImageThe tech industry really amazes me sometimes. Everyone knows that it moves fast, but I don’t think the average person realizes just how fast. The status quo can change overnight. I’m guessing Facebook knows this better than anyone or any company right now:

Google may have just come out of nowhere and checkmated Facebook in the social networking power struggle. MySpace and Six Apart will announce that they are joining Google’s OpenSocial initiative.

Here’s the big question – Will Facebook now be forced to join OpenSocial? Google says they are talking to “everyone.” This is a major strategic decision for Facebook, and they may have little choice but to join this coalition.

Essentially what Google is trying to do is make something like Facebook’s Platform available across the entire web. If you build an application for Facebook today, it only runs on Facebook. If you build an application for Google’s OpenSocial, it will run on any site that supports it – and so far, that’s almost every social networking site except Facebook.

Erick Schonfeld is absolutely right – the ball is in Facebook’s court now. They could handle this very well and come out on top, which is what I think they’ll do. My guess is that they will support OpenSocial eventually. Or they could handle it very poorly and screw up everything they’ve got going for them.

OpenSocial has been the hot topic for the last couple days, and there’s a ton of stuff up on TechMeme if you want to read more about it. This post from Dare Obasanjo will definitely make you stop and think, so make sure you read it:

In thinking about the Google OpenSocial Announcement I realized how much some of Google’s recent moves remind me of Microsoft of old [for some undeclared definition of old].

The five reasons Dare suggests all make sense to me. Still not sure what to make of that.

UPDATE: After thinking about this some more, it occurred to me that the headlines streaming across the web today would probably confuse the average Internet user. I mean, the average user probably uses both Google and Facebook in a (mostly) mutually exclusive way. Google is for search, Facebook is for wall posts. A headline like “Google vs. Facebook” would seem somewhat strange to that user. Or am I not giving the average user enough credit?

Read: TechCrunch

Facebook Day – $15 billion!

Post ImageTo my knowledge there is no "Facebook Day" but that seems like a fitting label for today. Until the company eventually goes public, today is probably the most important day in Facebook’s (incredibly short) history. Today Microsoft announced that it would pay $240 million for a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook, which means:

The investment values the three-year-old Facebook, which will bring in about $150 million in revenue this year, at $15 billion.

“We are now stepping outside what is typically a business decision,” said Rob Enderle, the founder of the strategy concern Enderle Group. “This was almost personal. I wouldn’t want to be the executive that’s on the losing side at either firm.”

Yes, Facebook is officially worth $15 billion. I wrote in February that Facebook missed the boat by not selling to Yahoo, but also pointed out they’d get another shot. Turns out I was wrong on the first part, and right on the second. All of a sudden Mark Zuckerberg looks like a genius for saying "no thanks" to Yahoo’s paltry offer of $1 billion.

Microsoft and Google were said to be fighting over the deal to the very end, with Microsoft having the slight advantage thanks to a previous ad deal with Facebook. This deal is all about positioning – Microsoft couldn’t afford to let Google cozy up to Facebook’s growing network of eyeballs.

There’s a ton of commentary on this story in the blogosphere, so I won’t rehash that here, but there is one thing that seems odd to me: the amount. No doubt $240 million is a lot of money, but I was expecting an announcement in the billions today. Something more in line with Google’s purchase of YouTube or Microsoft’s purchase of aQuantive.

On the other hand, a smaller piece of a big pie is better than no pie at all.


My parents are on Facebook – so what?

Post ImageIt was only a matter of time I guess – the “oh my god my parents are on Facebook” articles have started to appear in the MSM. Here is what Michelle Slatalla wrote about her experiences with Facebook in the New York Times a couple weeks ago:

After I got my Profile page, the first thing I did was to search for other members — my daughter and her friends — to ask them to be my friends.

Shockingly, quite a few of them — the friends, not the daughter — accepted my invitation and gave me access to their Profiles, including their interests, hobbies, school affiliations and in some cases, physical whereabouts.

You can read the whole thing if you like, but essentially the story is that Slatalla’s daughter was very unhappy her mom had joined Facebook. A week or so later, Patrick White wrote a similar article for the Globe and Mail. I was interviewed for the piece, but my quotes were not included, probably because my story is pretty boring by comparison – I don’t mind that my parents have Facebook at all! Anyway, here’s a quote from the article:

The site now bridges a chasm once rarely crossed between student life and family life by offering a window into the lives of both children and parents. Family dynamics may never be the same.

Mark Evans and Chris LaBossiere, among others, have also written recently about the older crowd joining Facebook.

I don’t understand what the big deal is. Facebook is just a tool – not a tool for teenagers or a tool for older folks, it’s a tool for everyone. My parents joined Facebook about a month ago and use it daily. They have connected with colleagues and friends, and they both update their status many times a day.

So what if there are pictures of me drinking on Facebook? Who cares if they can read all of my wall posts? Let’s assume they saw something they didn’t approve of – what are they going to do about it? There’s nothing they can do! Besides, I know my parents trust me to make smart decisions and to take responsibility for my own actions – that’s the way I was raised.

If you have a problem with your parents joining Facebook and seeing your profile, I think you need to take a closer look at the relationship you have with them. Having your entire family on Facebook shouldn’t greatly impact the family dynamic, except maybe for the better by creating another avenue for communication (but for communication that should already be taking place).

The only big difference Facebook has made for my family is that we use MSN Messenger slightly less. We don’t have to send the standard “what are you up to” messages because we get each other’s status updates instead.

When my parents joined Facebook, my first thought wasn’t “omg what are they going to see now” it was “damn this is cool my parents are technologically savvy!” At the risk of sounding condescending or mean, I would suggest that if your reaction is the “oh my god” kind then the relationship you have with with your parents probably isn’t as good as it should be (maybe you already know this, maybe you don’t). View them joining Facebook not as a negative thing, but as a way to improve your relationship!

Of course it’s easy for me to say these things, because I have a great relationship with my parents. All I am trying to get across is that whatever problems you think your parents joining Facebook will create likely existed long before Facebook did.

Facebook is the web application Microsoft should have built

Post ImageYesterday at an event called f8, Facebook launched their new “platform” which enables third party companies to integrate applications right inside of Facebook. Mashable has a pretty good overview of thirty such applications. Everything about the Facebook Platform seems fairly ballsy, but you can’t argue with statistics like these:

  • Facebook is growing 3% per week, which is 100,000 new users per day.
  • 50% of registered users come back to the site every day.
  • Facebook is generating more than 40 billion page views per month. That’s 50 pages per user every day.
  • 6th most trafficked site in the U.S. More page views than eBay. Says they are targeting Google next.

In short, there’s no better place for such a platform to be built than on Facebook.

The last point above, as reported by Michael Arrington, is particularly interesting. I suspect there are millions of people around the world right now who think that Google is the Internet. Increasingly though, you might say the same thing about Facebook. If their user growth continues, and the Platform takes off, Facebook might become the new on-ramp to the web. No need to go anywhere else when all your friends (and family, colleagues, etc) and apps (webmail, shopping, stocks, etc) are in one place.

Not only is the name “Facebook Platform” incredibly obvious, it’s also very astute. Facebook is no longer just a social networking site. It really is becoming a social operating system, as some have called it.

What does this have to do with Microsoft?

Microsoft is a platform company, plain and simple. Think of a Microsoft product – chances are it’ll be a platform product. Windows, Office, SharePoint, .NET, Xbox, etc. Microsoft is pretty good at laying the foundation and helping others build on top (which only serves to make their platform all the more important).

The Facebook Platform sounds very much like something Microsoft would build. To see what I mean, read this sentence:

Facebook is a platform that provides a common abstraction of the infrastructure and guts of a system, allowing third parties to build interesting and useful applications on top.

Now replace Facebook with Windows. Or Office. Or .NET. See what I mean? It still makes sense. Facebook is very much taking a page from the Microsoft playbook with Platform. I think it’s brilliant. And I think Microsoft should have done it a long time ago.

But they didn’t. I think they are moving in the right direction with Windows Live, but it sure is taking a while. Perhaps Colin is right…maybe Microsoft should just buy Facebook. I don’t think it’ll happen though.

At least Microsoft isn’t totally out to lunch on this – they are partnering with Facebook to integrate Popfly.

Facebook Music Coming Soon

Post ImageI would say that Facebook is well on its way to becoming the definition of social networking. There are only a few more features it needs (like an API that can edit data), and of course there are a lot of features that would be nice to have. One such feature that I place in the latter category is music, and it’s coming soon:

It is being rumored that Facebook will be announcing an online music service on May 21st.

Facebook is supposedly lining up several partners from the music industry for their music service, which is sure to be a hit amongst Facebook users, and a rival to MySpace Music and Bebo Bands.

Sounds cool, so long as Facebook doesn’t screw it up. I hope the dev team is repeating this to themselves over and over:


Yes the capitals are required. If they allow music to be played on the site without my explicit permission, I’m going to blow a gasket.

Read: Mashable!

Why is Facebook so addicting?

Post ImageFor those of you who use Facebook this will come as no surprise: I’m addicted. I don’t know what it is about the site, but something has me completely hooked. Lately when I think social networking, I think Facebook – it seems to me they have found the magic formula. And I really want to understand what that formula is.

Here are a few “magic ingredients” that I have come up with:

  • Human Connection. I think it’s human nature to want to be connected to other humans. Obviously, this is the core of Facebook’s product. Sure you can share links and write notes and such, but the core idea is connecting with other people, and everything seems to be designed with this in mind (you can tag people in photos, notes, etc.)
  • User Interface. With the exception of the ugly banner on the left side, the site is clean and the layout is mostly consistent. I think for the same reason people love Google’s simple front page, people love Facebook’s simple interface.
  • News Feed. Aside from being an efficient way to display information, the news feed makes logging into the site many times a day worthwhile. There’s always something new to see. Try to imagine Facebook without the news feed…it’s hard isn’t it? This is a key feature.
  • Almost Live Casual Communication. I think Facebook is great for communication that falls somewhere in between instant messaging and email. Like a simple “hey how’s it going” that doesn’t require an immediate response, nor an entire email message (which would appear in your inbox alongside important messages and spam). The wall is definitely another key feature.

When they first decided to open the site up to everyone, expanding away from their original audience of college students, I wasn’t sure if it would work out. I figured it might make Facebook seem less attractive. Turns out my suspicions were wrong. Facebook is definitely going mainstream.

I’ll think about this some more, but what you do think – why is Facebook so addicting?

Oh, and if we’re not friends on Facebook yet, add me! Here’s my profile.

A Rant About MySpace

Post ImageI hate MySpace. I simply cannot stand it. The navigation is horrible. The design is ugly. Their URLs are the most unfriendly ever. Random people add me to their “friends” list. Users have too much control over the look of the pages…which usually means that they end up making the pages painful to look at. Dancing text, repeating background images that were never meant to repeat, music that starts playing automatically, etc. I really cannot fathom how so many millions of people use MySpace on a daily basis.

Quite possibly the only thing I like about MySpace is that it runs on .NET and is therefore an excellent case study/example. But that would be the only reason.

Every single time I look at MySpace I cringe. Maybe I just don’t get it?

Why does advertise on Facebook?

Post ImageI have been spending far too much time on Facebook lately, so I couldn’t help but notice the vertical banner ads for that appear on the site. And I can’t figure out why they bother. I mean, I signed up for probably six years ago, and never visited the site again.

Well until this week, when I went back to see if it still sucked (so I suppose you could argue their advertisement worked to an extent). And yes, it does still suck. I understand why there are two gas stations on every corner, and why you can usually find a Wendy’s or Burger King wherever there is a McDonald’s. They have really similar offerings. Is this the case with Facebook and I don’t think so.

Facebook and just might be the best examples of Web 2.0 and Web 1.0, respectively.

They are almost polar opposites. Facebook is clean and fast. pages are slower and cluttered. Facebook is entirely free, while is primarily a premium service. Facebook has features like photos, blogs, and mobile support. has message boards and biographies. Facebook is new and hip, is old and tired.

It seems to me that at their core, the two services serve the same purpose: connecting people with friends (and especially classmates). In my opinion, Facebook does a much better job. It’s easier, and costs nothing. appears to be quite successful though, so I wonder if people use the two in different ways.

If they are in fact used for the same purpose, then I wonder if advertising on Facebook is at all effective for I can’t imagine it would be, but perhaps I’m missing something here.