Why I do not much care for Facebook

Thu 29 Jan 2009 03:17 PM

I am not a big fan of Facebook. This has always been true, but I've never given it a lot of thought. Recently a friend challenged me to come up with reasons why I do not like Facebook, and so here is my response.

Facebook does a lot of things -- pictures, status, friend tracking, interest sharing, and, with apps, a lot more. The problem is, for about any of these things, there is a webapp that does it much better than them. Flickr does better picture management, Twitter does better status updating. Recently they have tried to implement chat, which is so bothersome to use and often fails to work properly, making it much worse than a service like Meebo. So why is Facebook so popular?

Facebook is popular because of its social graph. If you were going to use Flickr to share pictures, you would find that there is just not as many of your friends on Flickr. If you were to go to Twitter you would find the same thing.

Is there a solution? Not quite, or at least not quite yet, but the best contenders I have seen are FOAF (Friend of a Friend) and XFN (XHTML Friends Network). Now for tech people this stuff is not new to you, in fact you may think it is old hat, and I am not here to advocate for either of them, just advocate for the idea behind them. If there was a way that our social graph could be queryable, portable, dynamic, we wouldn't need Facebook. In fact we would be better off than just having Facebook.

As a disclaimer, I do not hate Facebook, and there are somethings that it does well, but I imagine a world in which my social graph uses any app that I can choose instead of having to settle for the sub-par Facebook apps.