Okay, I gave the Facebook thing a try. And I like being able to keep up with two or three of my friends who live far away. But that is the shiny little gold coin buried in a mountain of shit.
What initially started out as an irritation – people trying to use Facebook’s internal messaging system to communicate with me in a real-time manner – has become symbolic of why I hate Facebook. Basically, Facebook is trying to create a second Internet, one in which all communication and information is linked to particular people and relationships – and, oh, by the way owned and controlled by Facebook and hey, we can use your photo in ads or whatever we want because all your data is under their terms of service, etc. Wired has a great article on Facebook’s Alternate Internet Reality strategy:
Facebook’s internal messaging system is 100% pure evil and completely representative of what I hate about Facebook. I can get an email notification that someone has sent me a message, but replying to them via email requires me to look up their email address on their profile by hand – so you don’t, you just reply using internal Facebook messaging, which requires me to go back to their damn web site every time I want to communicate with this person. I can see this being very attractive if you have a sucky email provider with bad spam filtering, but you could also write this in such a way that it integrates smoothly with your existing email account. Facebook didn’t, because they want Facebook Internet to partition from Real Internet, leaving them with far more control over your online data than Google could ever dream of acquiring.
Don’t get me wrong, Google has issues – but they also always implement all the obvious compatibility and data export features you would want. IMAP access to Gmail? No problem. Export your contacts? We got your back. Last week, I met someone working on making it efficient to get all your Google Docs out of Google and on to your own hard drive – it isn’t good enough that it’s possible, he wants it to be easy.
So, screw you Facebook people, I like Real Internet. I’m going to keep my Facebook account as a bridge between Facebook Internet and Real Internet, but I’m going to use it as little as possible. My great act of protest? Disabling Twitter forwarding to my Facebook status. Ha! Take that, enormous corporation!