The Facebook Virus

by on May.31, 2009, under thoughts

Facebook is starting to become MySpace.

When facebook started, it was a great idea: provide a way for college kids to easily find and communicate with their old high school, and current college friends. A simple, easy form of communication to link people who physically know each other. Then, they opened up registrations, a little at a time, and, now, anybody is free to join Facebook.

This was OK at first too, though. It was still a great way to communicate across generations, or with people in other states or even countries that you physically have met. It enabled people to plan events, and share what’s on their mind, all while keeping a standard layout, something which MySpace never guaranteed. It would seem that the reason MySpace died in popularity, and the reason Facebook gained popularity, was the customization of MySpace profiles, the communication aspect of Facebook, and the reputation that MySpace had recieved over the years.

But, it seems that Facebook is drifting away from its innovation. The first step towards this was e-mailing you when something happens. This has always annoyed me. The settings for e-mails in facebook are “E-mail me if X happens” or “Don’t e-mail me if X happens”. So, if I want to be notified if someone replies to a thread that I’m part of, I will be sent an e-mail any time anyone replies to that thread. If I don’t, I won’t be notified at all, and will have to visit Facebook (which I often forget to do).

This creates a lot of spam in my inbox. In a thread even just between five people, if thoughts are flying back and forth, my inbox gets filled up with e-mail from facebook quickly. So, facebook needs to take a hint from forums. Offer a third option: notify me on the first event. This should send you an e-mail saying “Someone replied to thread X” when someone replies to a thread you’re part of. Then, it should wait until you actually view the new messages in the thread before sending you another e-mail that someone replied. On top of that, take into account things you’re notified of when browsing the site. If I’m on facebook, and someone writes on my wall, the website tells me this. Don’t also send me an e-mail, it just gets annoying.

But this isn’t the only way facebook is becoming a virus. I noticed something interesting happening the other day. A friend of mine took a quiz, and I saw it in the “news feed” on my main page. So, I took the quiz to see what my result would be. Soon after, another three or so of my friends had also taken that same quiz. It’s hard to say whose quiz-taking inspired these others, but this spread of wildfire is very virus-like.

Some, though, might call this the wonder of social web. That things are happening this quickly, and that we can see them in real-time is a miracle of modern technology. But, have we gone too far with this? When something exhibits the qualities of a virus, how long does it take for us to break down and just call it a virus?

This type of action is, in my opinion, what caused MySpace to fail. I think Facebook is a needed hub of communication, but I think that if it continues on its current trajectory, it will just wind up in a crash landing.

So, it seems that Facebook has become the new, and is taking the path of, MySpace.


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