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14 June 2007

Five Weeks of Facebook

Things have been a bit quiet on this blog recently. That’s partly because five weeks ago I finally signed up to Facebook, which is currently the best way to spend all your spare time doing nothing on the Internet. (More accurately, I received an invite to join Facebook from a friend, but since I wanted to use a different email address than the one where I’d received the invite, I had to register an account and then search for the friend who’d sent the invite in the first place... but more on that later.)

Facebook always seems to get mixed reactions; people either love it and can’t get enough of it, hate it because they don’t see the point, or like the idea but find it useless because they don’t have any friends (either on Facebook or in reality). When Chris joined, he described it as being “Friends Reunited done well. Or Friends reunited with Twitter and Flickr added on. And with blogger.” Coco signed up and hated it at first, but soon changed his mind once he’d got a few more friends and found out it had an API. Now he loves it so much that he’s written a Recipe Binder application for Facebook. Generally speaking though, the people who ‘get’ it and use it properly quickly become addicted to it. And I know this because I’ve seen loads of people update their status to things like, “Chris is addicted to Facebook.”

So what’s so good about Facebook then?

Here are five things:

  1. You can tag people in photos, enabling you to view all photos of your friends regardless of who took them. This makes it much more useful than Flickr when it comes to parties and group photos.

  2. Not only can you leave comments for your friends on their walls, but you can use the Wall-to-Wall feature to view your conversation with them in chronological order. The lack of a feature like that on MySpace confused the hell out of me.

  3. When you login, you see your News Feed which shows you what’s happening with all your friends, like who’s been writing on walls, which groups they’ve been joining, what their current status is, whether they’ve uploaded new photos. Again, MySpace had nothing like this. Checking all your friends’ profile pages for new stuff on MySpace is a right ball-ache.

  4. They have a pretty decent mobile version of the site at m.facebook.com which lets you do most things, such as update your status, view profiles, write on walls and accept friend requests.

  5. They recently released a development platform so that anyone can write applications for Facebook. That’s good for Facebook (because they don’t have to bother doing much new development), good for users (because they get loads of useful or otherwise interesting applications) and good for developers (because they get to show off their skills and stuff).

And what’s bad about it?

Here are another five things:

  1. They’re sneaky bastards and ask you for your Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail account password so that they can send invites to all your contacts. By making this part of the registration process, they’ve been hugely successful in spreading their Facebook love.

  2. If someone sends an invite to an email address other than the one you’ve got registered with Facebook – or the one you want to register with Facebook if you’re a new user – you can’t accept the invitation. When you click the link, you don’t get the option to login. This means you either have to login and search your friend or start messing about with parameters in query strings. While Facebook does allow you to add multiple email addresses to your account, I still got an invite the other day asking me to register even though I’d added that email address, so I don’t know what’s going on there.

  3. There’s no easy way to find out which people you’ve already sent friend requests. The closest you can get is the list of people who can view your profile on the Poke, Message and Friend Request Settings privacy page.

  4. There’s no option to remain signed in on the main site. However, the mobile version does leave you signed in. I guess this is because it was originally aimed at schools and universities where most people would probably be using shared computers. They should at least make this an option now.

  5. They recently released a Developer Platform so that anyone can write applications for Facebook. That’s bad for users because Facebook profiles will probably start to become overly cluttered and messy like most MySpace profiles, especially when some applications have a ‘viral invite system’ which essentially sends invites to all the friends of anyone who adds the application.

Of course, if I’m wrong about any of those points, let me know.

Facebook me!

Today’s blog post was brought to you by the number 5...

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3 Comments

Hmmm, the viral invite system. Seems like some are kinda disguised as "so and so has graffitied on your profile" which you can't see until you add the app. Did I graffiti your wall?

I tried to Facebook you. :( DIdn't work, though I saw your page, and I was logged into facebook at the time.

I shared your post on Google Reader though. Apparently brought to us by the number five.... just like in the Electric Company.

Still can't see the point and nobody has actually been able to give me a good reason why they use it. I agree with your five bad points but the five good points are not really good things just five functions or abilities.