back to article Facebook's complexity will be its doom

Facebook released some impressive updates to its ubiquitous social platform at last week's F8 developer conference. It also managed to scare the pants off even the most ardent Facebook admirers. Like me. But the fear, at least in my case, is less about Facebook's relentless invasion of users' privacy, and more about how its …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well, here's hoping.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Sounds like what you need is the BetterFaceBook plugin...

  3. Yves Kurisaki

    The reality is..

    The reality is that people, most of the time, don't give a crap what their friends are up to, let alone the 2000+ 'friends' some amass in their profile. Facebook will also soon find out that most people are stupid and that, no matter how nice and shiny that toy was, they will want a new toy at some point. They will play with the other toys available until there are none left but the stinky crappy built ones like Diaspora.

    I, for one, have just deleted my Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounts and I'm already feeling better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You appear to be confusing 'people' with your own feelings.

      And 'most people' aren't stupid: Only 50% of the population is below average intelligence...

      1. Ross 7

        "And 'most people' aren't stupid: Only 50% of the population is below average intelligence..."

        Ah, but you're making a presumption there - above average intelligence can still be stupid.

      2. Richard Taylor 2

        That assumes

        A normal distribution. After all the average number of legs per UK inhabitant is under 2, but it is a somewhat odd distribution.

        1. Adam Johnston


          ... it's very slightly less than two

  4. Tim

    Too many developers

    That's it, really. The company has far too many programmers on staff. They needed the army during the ramp-up phase, but not anymore. The platform works, supports nearly a billion users and does everything it needs to do. Now those under-utilized geeks have solved all the hard problems and are spending their days hacking away on cool new ideas. These inevitably end up in the product, over-burdening it with ever more complex and pointless things.

    My John Harvey-Jones fix: bin 90% of the programmers (pay them a million each), keep a small team to maintain and slowly extend the core, and leave it at that. After all, once your house is finished you don't keep the builders and architects on retainer, but you might hire in a decorator once in a while. Lots of those laid-off, rich hackers will start new businesses around the edge of the FB ecosystem, strengthening the platform with optional features while leaving the core intact and lean.

    Won't happen while Zuckerberg is in charge. He's a hacker himself, at heart so he won't kill his own kind. He also seems to combine the greed of a Lucas with Job's need for control.

    1. nineworlds

      And better yet...

      Employ dozens of UI experts to go through weeding out all the interface SNAFUs created by said programmers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Point missed

      At this level it's not about hiring programmers you dont need. But preventing other companies have the programmers they do need.

  5. big_Jim

    Ignore, Retry or Abort.

    I easily manage my facebook content by never reading it.

  6. Wile E. Veteran

    Bye bye FB and hello Google+

    I stripped my FB account of all "likes" and other personal information then submitted an account deletion request and deactivated my account. FSCK FB!! Its overreaching desire to snatch everything about me and its continuous introduction of new "features" that are turned on by default. So far, I'm finding Google+ pleasant and easy to use. Only problem is most of my real friends and personal acquaintances are still on FB :-( At least G+ allows sharing your posts with non-users via email.

    1. Crazy Operations Guy

      Moving from one devil to another

      So rather than trusting one ad-supported company, you are now trusting another. And what make you think that Google won't just add on more crap later? They do have a track record for adding 'features' to everything.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Google seems to have learned

        Well, let's face it: they're success was based on being less cluttered and useless than Altavista and Yahoo had become. They added relatively discretely onto it and maintained separate platforms. Then they got seduced by the "social web" and gave birth to the brown slurry of "Buzz" and "Wave" and even their most ardent champions soon found that all the vaunted advantages were just new ways to waste time and that newsnet was more fun anyway.

        Google+ seems to be deliberately understated in a bending-over-backwards way to please those early adopters amongst us likely not just to post about our frustration but also to call the cops, or in the case of Germany, set up a political party just to keep tabs on them. I suspect that they have learnt an awful lot about how *little* they need to know about individuals in order to be able to monetise it and that the 500 posts a day crowd probably aren't worth tracking.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah; Google is far less likely to want to obtain all your personal data and use it for marketing purposes, and barely ever adds nefarious 'features' to its products...

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Farcebook can't go away fast enough.

    And, hopefully, so will the rest of these lame social networking sites.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    heh I liked face book when it was just a stream of shit my mates and various interest groups / fangroups posted in chronological order.

    Until the latest update at least you could click on the normal "show me all my shit in chronological order" button even though facebook kept insisting you wanted to see "news", sorry, I don't go there for news, and the bollocks we all talk on a day to day basis isn't news.

    But anyway, no great loss. Still have twitter for a never ending source of meandering jibbering consciousness.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Left years ago...

    I recall joining Facebook to keep up with family, most my friends were on other social networks.

    It was fun for about 5 minutes, until I kept getting pestered.

    People came out of the woodwork, some I'd had no contact with for 20 years. "Hey, remember at school when?" "Erm, no, I've moved on, forgot that."

    The main 'social' aspect seemed to be data gathering games "Will you allow this application to grab all your Facebook details in order to demonstrate to friends how clever you are?" "Erm, no. My friends don't care about that crap."

    But some of them did, "Friend X scored 1200 points in 'cool game Y', can you beat them?"

    "Erm no, Friend X just gave away all their personal details to a marketing company."

    It's crock, it's been crock for years.

    I guess, like a true alpha geek, I'm just an unsocial bastard who prefers a small group of friends and chatting face to face. I'm a sucker for Twitter, because I follow people who provide humour & good links. Google+ - yeah, got on it months back, posted my usual pile of silly jokey crud and funny photo's, got bored with it.

    The reality is, the social web is what you make it, not what a website *wants* you to make it.

    Facebook is a marketing tool masquerading as a friend hangout. Google+ is a wannabe Facebook designed to peddle Google's ad network - and gather personal data.

    1. CD001


      People came out of the woodwork, some I'd had no contact with for 20 years. "Hey, remember at school when?" "Erm, no, I've moved on, forgot that."


      You're under no obligation to accept anyone's "friend" request you know. I've got a grand total of something like 30+ friends on Facebook - except for about 5 (who I've met on online games, forums or even on random shit on Facebook itself) all of them are people I know offline.

      If I get a request from someone where I think "yeah, I vaguely remember the name but really, who the hell are you?" - then I just ignore the request. Ignored loads from people I probably knew in school - I've done way too much crap since then to remember them.

      The new "home feed" on Facebook is, however, pretty crappy - and it's no longer actually easy to navigate Facebook or find anything... I have absolutely no idea where to look now for a list of things that I've "liked".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Well said!

      The only thing facebook's good for, is keeping track of the people you can't be bothered to really stay in touch with...

  10. groggyjava

    Cynical point of view...

    By increasing the amount of effort required by the average user to get Facebook the way they like it, Facebook is not increasing the barrier to entry, but the barrier to exit. Think about it, they know their growth is plateauing, what they need is a good reason for people not to leave. The idea of having to get everything organized just so elsewhere is probably more daunting than the negatives of staying. Sort of like boiling a frog.

  11. Naughtyhorse

    in other news

    FB announced their new company motto today:

    "Dance! monkey boy Dance!"

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not so alleged as "We read the cookies but we ignored them ... honest"

    Seems they were reading the cookies but claimed they "scrubbed" the data

  13. Andrew Jones 2

    All I know is......

    at 8:30am today - I had a Hangout with Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) on Google+ so therefore G+ wins for me (plus the app actually works)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You smegging lucky monkey! :)

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Enlighthened Version of FB Works As Follows

    A) Everybody generates a Public-Private key pair with GPG, sends Public Key to Friends

    B) Everybody sets up

    C) Everybody broadcasts to their friends' enlightened-email accounts GPG-encrypted when the dog is having kids or the doorknob fell off (or any other thing you would normally post to facebook)

    And yes, taking time to learn GPG will actually teach you something as opposed to just steal your time.

  15. Zippy the Pinhead

    freaking FB

    I block notices for some app or game and a week later I get the same freaking notices.. I don't want or care if someone's farm needs water.. I don't wanna play games and I want no apps slurping my data on FB. I want to block them all!

    I also don't care if my Sister likes her ex-boyfriend's roommate's cousin sister's half-brother wall post of a cat so now I have to unsubscribe all likes and comments from each and everyone of my FB friends. They need a global switch for these things

    1. David Dawson


      You know you want to.

  16. Kev99 Silver badge

    Facebook tracking

    Assuming Facebook's off-line tracking is real, which I don't, then they are probably using some sort of persistent cookie. And who in his/her right mind still has the browser set to NOT clear all cookies when closing?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      the legions of uninformed novelty-seeking slack-jaws who make up the majority of FB users.

  17. Nights_are_Long

    My personal dislike of Mark Zuckberg and Facebook is taken to the level of day dreams involving a rabbid hamster tied to a stick, a bacon slicer and the song agado on a iPod just for Mark.

    You want to know what my Facebook is? It's a pub I go to with people I know and have know for years enjoying a chat.

    1. IsJustabloke


      Do you have any idea how stupid your post makes you look?

      If you can explain to me how I can pop down to your "facebook" with my dad who lives in New Zealand... or how about the life long buddy of mine that now lives in Chicago then that'll be great.

      Not everyone that uses FB is a moron. I use facebook the way I want to use it. It doesn't *have* to contain your world.

      Its just a tool and like 99% of tools is a useful as you make it and can be as controlled as you want it. it *really* isn't rocket science.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Big Brother

        That's a valid point, but...

        ... the majority of the criticism is directed at the increasingly excessive and intrusive sharing of new facebook features, which range from the creepy (people knowing what I read on the paper? shall I just publish my vote then?) to the downright dangerous (anyone using "places" is asking to get burgled).

        So while it is certainly true that not everyone who uses facebook is a moron, people who use it excessively are relegated to that status by their ignorance.

        And yes the settings are pretty complex. I spent an hour customizing them when they changed a few months ago and I shudder to think what I'll need to do now to figure out the new circles and how to block all kinds of websites from publishing what I'm reading or doing online.

        At some point it stops being "just a tool" and becomes a pita.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      FB doesn't take me 10 minutes to get to, cost me £3+ an hour, kicks me out at 11, or leaves me with a headache the next morning, though.

      Plus, it saves me 20 minutes of crappy 'so what have you been doing' small-talk when I do get to see my friends.

  18. zen1

    God I hope not

    Let me clarify... The closest I get to facebook is "failbook", which satyrizes and spotlights all of the general stupidity that some FB users can exhibit. Nothing brings me more pleasure or gives me more hours of entertainment than watching people embarass the hell out of themselves.

    Be it through the magic of updating their status, via their cell phone, that has an over aggressive spell checker.

    Or the relentless and brutal trolling that makes the Reg forums look like a completely non-dysfunctional family's weekly dinner.

    So, before anybody complains about the invasiveness of all the new FB changes, please take a moment and think about me and my lone selfish indulgence of watching FB users make cannon fodder out of themselves.

  19. Ilgaz

    Can a British person tell me the answer?

    How come British people and politicians, even secret service doesn't ask BBC what the hell are they doing adding that spying button of facebook on one of the largest (if not the largest) and most prestigious sites of the planet?

    I am shocked to see that spyware button at news stories, politics etc. Funny and tragic thing is, potentially, a wiretapping government can even identify who (yes, with real name!) reads that "bad" story about them.

    If I was a British tax paying person, I would sure be curious about the mysterious reason that button popped up on a very critical news site.

    1. Peter Hewitt

      You'll note the BBC button is actually implemented quite differently than the others and thus doesn't track in the same way. Only once you actually click the bugger to share something does it contact FB.

      Much as I want to stick up for them though they probably did it for performance reasons rather than privacy concerns.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Stupid tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist.

      The BBC is not an arm of the government, we have an independent media over here you clown.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Correct. It's an arm of the *previous* government......

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        trouble is that clowns are an arm of the government

        we lack the independent clown ecosystem that is vital to our economy.

      3. Ilgaz

        Learn what BBC is first

        BBC is funded with your taxes, licenses and minuscule amount of advertising money they get from truly international companies who will struggle with their burocracy.

        What does Facebook pay to get that spying button to track everyone. They implemented the ordinary one first and when they figured they can't get away with it, they switched to a better private one.

        It is a government and actually a spy agencies job to prevent the ignorant to get tracked especially by foreign enterprises. Get a clue from German government.

  20. Jean-Luc
    Thumb Up

    I'll name a useful feature they could work on...

    Totally agree with the article that I don't want to know what everyone is up to all the time. Page likes? Who cares?

    My problem is that some friends are extremely FB-chatty so always end up in the wall. And everyone else needs to be scrolled to.

    I've hidden a few entirely, but what I would like instead is a feature that said "show only x% of Joe's posts". With me lowering the x till the volume of Joe's chattering updates is bearable.

    Additionally, I find some of my French buddies are picking up on English language FB malware several weeks after they've been outed. ex: the "how many people have viewed your profile today" snagged someone this weekend.

    How hard is it in a web platform to stop propagation of a known malware? Ditch the army of programmers, lock it down and stop pushing pointless "innovation".

  21. David Karla


    It's only just been getting traction here (hungary) over the last year or so, and already known as 'faszbook' ie the hipper crew are getting bored and annoyed. (|en|fasz%20book)

  22. David Hicks

    Google+ Popular with the geeks?

    As far as I can tell all the geeks went there early then got bored with it and left. They're back on facebook now.

    That's not to say they won't switch again, but clearly it wasn't compelling enough to make a one-time switch immediately.

    Me, I can't use it as my Google Apps for Domains account cannot also be used for Google+, until they fix some stuff. And if I register a throwaway account I'd just have to get set up all over again when they do fix it. Bah.

  23. T J

    A total incoherent mess

    Speaking as an active programmer with over 25 years experience in EVERYTHING from embedded all the way up to high level mush like the current markup ("Pick a random word and stick ML after it, then mention XML so you sound like you know something, and THEN get the word 'stylesheet' in there somewhere too) mess (folks, its a mess, its a real, real mess and I dont care if it pays your mealticket, its not comp.sci its just shyte):

    Speaking as that - FB's interface always was a complete, unintuitive pile of dogs vomit and continues to be. This usually doesn't matter, people get used to interfaces no matter how bad they are (Apple's ancient crappy desktop, Blackberry's godawful GUI, the total mess of GNOME, the dreadful changes in KDE 4, etc etc).

    But familiarity doesn't imply quality - FB's interface is very low quality. And its app API is a joke.

    But - what do you honestly EXPECT from a giant mass of javascript????

    1. apjanes

      but there's a disconnect...

      Sorry, but I think you've got bit of a disconnect in your argument. Whether or not you think JavaScript is shite and assembler kicks ass, has little relevance to the quality of the UI. Ultimately the UI is the end product of WHATEVER underlying technology you use to render it and is the result of how you design it, not the languages/frameworks you use.

      Yes, the choice between the type of app (web, desktop, console, etc.) may introduce certain constraints and require certain choices, but I'm sure you've seen crap UI in desktop apps as well as the current "high level mush" that is typically used for web development. If it is indeed "mush" is not to do with the use of JavaScript, but how JavaScript was used.

  24. AdamWill

    new ui

    my favourite description of the new facebook was actually the one based on a stupid meme - "I heard you like to facebook so I put a facebook in your facebook so you can facebook while you facebook!"

    that 'news stream' thing that's now floating around at the top right is exactly what facebook used to be when it was simple and slightly useful and not overloaded with stupid 'apps'.

  25. Melanie Winiger

    Great article

    It's bloatware - can't see the wood from the trees now.

  26. NHS IT guy

    Couldn't agree more

    I've been on FaceBook since day one, I was a beta tester - an early adopter. But year by year, month by month I've become less fond of it.

    What was once a lean, well connected and easy way to message my friends and look at their photos has become a bloated mess with gangster games, music updates, video updates, pointless questions, a IM system that won't close, a constant feed in the corner of nonsense.

    I've removed everyone but my family from FaceBook now, and choose to use Twitter and Google+ - they're just so much quicker and lighter.

    Sorry Mark, but you've fucked up.

  27. Bassey


    I'm surprised to learn that a bunch of so-called geeks use facebook through the facebook website. I genuinely thought everyone with any technical nouse had stopped using that POS a long time ago. I have a close network of about 50 friends and family on there and I just read the news through Freindcaster. I know there are loads and loads of other options out there but I'm not a big user so I stick to what I know. Plenty of friends have much better alternatives but I'm not interesred enough to try them. Hardly anyone actually uses Facebook though.

    Facebook is just a bunch of APIs that allow you to access the data you want how you want. I find it incredible a bunch of so-called geeks don't get that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I'm surprised to learn that ..."

      "I find it incredible a bunch of so-called geeks don't get that..."

      Aw shucks, that's all part of the wonder of you.

      Have you, by any chance, wandered out of your ivory tower and now can't find your way home?

  28. The Alpha Klutz

    you'd think it'd be easy to make friends on a site with 800 million users, but its not, its the opposite. Ive made more friends on forums with ~10 users than I have on Facebook.

    it's this ridiculous notion that everyone on earth must either be "your friend" or "not your friend". Its inconcievable, according to Zuckerberg, that there could ever be any middle ground! This encourages an extreme binary seperation between your friends and "everyone else". Because those other people, they suck! You don't want to talk to them. Trust Mark, he knows these things.

    1. UBfusion
      Thumb Up

      Best post so far.

      I'd like to add that if you are "not a friend" then you are not an "enemy", but just a "non existent" person which IMHO is much worse. FB serves not only to delimit the the 7 billion human universe to a much more manageable 20-2000 "friends" only universe - it's here to make us forget the rest, which will eventually lead us to total social apathy. Let everybody else starve to death or die from radiation, they're not my "friends".

      We've seen many FB pages of Jeesuses, but I seriously doubt whether we'll see a FB page of a 20 lb African kid starving to death or FB pages of Fukushima workers who committed suicide to save their fellow citizens.

  29. andy 103

    Simplicity was FB's selling point at one time

    I've said this many times before but when it was originally launched, Facebook had the combined benefits of doing what no other site did, in a very simple way that it was almost impossible for the end-users to not understand.

    Nothing truly innovative or groundbreaking has come from them since it was launched. It's been a case of them adding medicore, semi-useless add-on's to it.

    There is also a growing realisation - not just by the IT savvy - that Facebook are extremely concerned with tracking users and trying to maintain some kind of hold over them.

    The trouble for competitor sites is not just that there are 800 million people using Facebook, but that there are now so many online services that are - to some extent - integrated with the platform meaning if you do close your account you may lose out elsewhere. However unless they keep it simple and stop trying to retain so much control over their users, I hope people do abandon it in the near future.

  30. andy 103

    The irony

    Facebook was built after Zuckerberg created a site (Facemash) where he stole a load of student photos from servers at Harvard... and then when he was in trouble for this, accused the IT department of not protecting people's personal data.

    Funny how when the shoe is on the other foot he's quite eager to mis-use other people's data for his own purposes.

  31. Tony Paulazzo

    >I've hidden a few entirely, but what I would like instead is a feature that said "show only x% of Joe's posts". With me lowering the x till the volume of Joe's chattering updates is bearable.<

    The new update actually allows this, or at least three options, show all, show most, show important post on a person to person basis.

  32. Tim 11

    "An Administration Nightmare"

    Unless you enjoy spending hours twiddling pointless settings, it's not clear to me why you would bother with facebook at all, since that seems to be its primary purpose

  33. cs94njw

    Big Google fan.

    I looked at Google+ early, and it's quite basic and there's hope it'll be more usable than FB. But there's been nothing to do on it. Recently I noticed the Games section, and thought I'd have a look.

    Angry Birds! Awesome! Subscribe... "I'm sorry you're not using <insert bleeding edge browser here>."

    Er... i'm using IE8 at work. I can't install IE9, and they've blocked the installation of the Chrome plugin.

    That's it?! I'm blocked because of being a browser version old?

  34. TheOtherHobbbes


    should do Facebook for the i-Generation.

    Maybe call it something like FBI.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Face what?

  36. FrankAlphaXII

    Ya'll whine for about a week, then shut up. And can someone fire this guy already?

    People dont like Facebook because its popular not to. Yet 95% of you still use it. So either stop being Hypocrites, switch to Google+ and let them track your every move, or STFU. Yeah the UI sucks. Their UI designers need to not be from India. But look at history, everyone always pisses and moans about Facebook every single time it changes, then you get used to it and shut up until they change something else. Then you bitch and moan for about a week again. Wash, Dry, Repeat.

    Just because you're too stupid or cant be bothered to encrypt your posts with GPG/PGP or something else, or are too stupid to change your privacy settings so noone besides people you actually care about can see what you're doing doesnt give you the moral authority to bitch because you're an idiot. Its your own damned fault. Or perhaps you should actually follow the Terms of Service you agreed to when you signed up and only add people you actually know (instead of 2000 dumbfounded dipshits who you've never met nor never will meet). What a freaking concept.

    Honestly. Timeline's a shitty idea, but if someone really wants to take your data, they'll just crack your account and download all of it anyway, which isnt exactly rocket science because more than 90% of you have an alphanumeric password with words (and probably no numbers aside from 69 or 420) with no special characters.

    And there's an answer for the shitty apps, DONT USE THEM!!! I dont and I still like Facebook just fine. I ignore every app request. Actually I lied, I use books. But really Its a communication tool, not a game console or some Juvenile website where I "unlock questions/answers people say about me". I could really give fuck all about what people have to say or think. If they're not mature enough to say it directly to me, I dont care one bit.

    And on an aside, can El Reg PLEASE tell this author to take a flying leap. Ive never read anything but ca. 500 word 3 paragraph essays from him. I could really care less about his opinions. Stephen "Internet Tubes" Fry seems to have a better grip on what he's talking about, which is saying something. On a very rare occasion he'll raise a good point, but its usually one that's been voiced by a reporter here that he reiterates a few weeks later in a paraphrase.

    Its crap. Crap that you guys are paying good money for. The only thing open and shut (especially shut) about this columnist is that his employment with you guys oughta be shut.

    Then again, its not that Id expect anything differently than an former Canonical employee. Considering they made a business off of "paraphrasing" RHEL/Fedora and Debian's features in IMHO is a crap distro that best serves as a coaster.

    1. UBfusion

      Today I learned the apocryphal meaning of 420 - thank you for that.

  37. Pigeon

    Coo, FOTW material

    /040, damn this body thing.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I only use FB

    There is plenty of value to FB and related social network sites. I don't post any personally identifiable info there so there is no marketing value to be had by me but what I do use it for is stalking my old girlfriends!

    Ahem. That is a joke. I actually have a space-filler, content-free FB under a totally bogus name and anonymous email addy merely to make posting on certain web pages convenient (and anonymous even when they have anti-anonymity rules).

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IRC chat forums

    Are better locations for making friends than any other site. I've made plenty of "friends" in the Anonymous chat rooms, for instance. Or in other chat rooms.

    I wouldn't trust a one of them to stand behind me in RL but they are still my "friends".

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