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Facebook finally died yesterday
2011-11-22: It's been dying for a while.
Every time they didn't take the security of our data seriously and sold it off to big corporations so that the ads we saw reflected what we'd typed, it underlined how many were listening.
Every time they changed the look of the site, people hated the change.
The beautiful thing about Facebook was that people embraced it as their own. Despite it being free, we felt it was ours. Despite everything it provided, we resented its need to pay for itself through advertising.
Personally, I clicked down a notch when it became evident they were selling serious data to selected big companies. Selling data is OK so long as I can buy it too. Selling data to skew the world more towards big corporations is not something I want to support.
I also clicked down a notch when The Guardian (my newspaper of choice) set up with Facebook to force every Guardian click go through an app, and then shared everything I clicked before I'd actually read it. I'd rather read the stories about huge breasted ladies getting charged extra on Ryanair (they didn't I made that up) without sharing, and curate my own list of articles thank-you very much. Partly because I want to manage my own public face, but also because if I share a link it's not because I have social diarrhea, but because I specifically want to share it to my friends on Facebook. We are not a series of clicks.
Nevertheless, I love Facebook. I work for myself, Facebook represents my work colleagues. It's my defence against loneliness, sat alone in my office all day.
But it doesn't feel like Facebook listened. Where's the evidence they did? They obviously feel the pressure of G+ and Twitter, don't want to lose their market leadership, so are fighting a features battle more than listening to their users.
Facebook's integration with Skype to provide us with video calls with any of our friends sounded enormous, but it hasn't taken off.
People seem underwhelmed by Timeline.
It runs deeper than mere features. Facebook has lost our trust. They can make fivers pour out of our CD drives and we wouldn't care. We have written Facebook out of our lives.
The integration of websites with Facebook will be another nail in their coffin. We want to share what we want to share. We want control. We don't want a sort of auto-share that tells everyone where we've been across the web, nor indeed any risk that it might.
I'm training an older person in how to use Facebook. It's inconsistent ("do I press the button to post or press return?"), and they've no sooner 'got' it than it changes.
The turning point seems to have been at the last update, when the top right Twitter-like news ticker arrived and people started putting post-it notes on their screen to hide its distracting movements.
Along with that came the re-organisation of our timeline, so it was, without our choosing, sorted so that the most important things came top. Previously, it was just in time order (they retreated a little, now at the top of your newsfeed, on the grey line, you can reset the sort order back to 'recent stories first').
People don't understand the machinations going on underneath to provide us with the most interesting stuff, how much dross we are being saved from. They want the feeling of control. It is, after all, our data.
After that update, people seemed to use Facebook less. Whether they really did, or whether the new timeline just gave that impression, I don't know.
But last Sunday, I sat with my partner and we played Scrabble. In the absense of anything much interesting going up on Facebook and now I have a shinyphone, I shared the occasional photograph of my progress through 7-vowel tiles and the fact that we've kept a total of our scores for almost twenty years. 'Intimate' stuff that I think Facebook is actually for, despite the calls of those who would rather not know what sort of sandwich I've just eaten.
See, it saddens me that people look to Facebook for entertainment without making an effort to be entertaining. OK, being a comedian isn't everyone's bag, but Facebook is us. It's not interesting unless you're interesting. Give a little and you'll get a lot. If we don't, we really are thoroughly screwed as a culture.
I got my strokes, which is obviously part of the allure of Facebook. You put something in and real people comment, usually nicely, and it makes you feel good. So long as you don't start feeling like a Facebook whore, it's good. But the usual suspects weren't there.
And yesterday, nothing much happened on Facebook. I have 529 friends and nothing much happened.
In fact, something big did happen. I closed Facebook, because nothing was happening.
Whereas usually at the end of a task I'd check for Facebook updates .. it's just there, so I'd check .. I got the feeling that checking was wasting my time because there was nothing there.
So yesterday I think Facebook hit a turning point. Facebook died.
I suspect it will become a little more shrill: "but, look at our shiny new features!". Very Californian. I don't know what's next. Twitter is there of course. Personally, I'm going to move back more to my blog.
Don't get me wrong. I love Facebook. I wish it had got it right. But it messed up. It lost people's trust. Once is OK. Twice .. just. Thrice .. it's systematic, part of the DNA, won't ever change.
Maybe they even killed Social Media. Maybe, with the revolution that's coming, we will look back on this period and wonder how we ever got boxed into our homes like we have. Maybe the real social is coming, where social media itself gets boxed in as a tool we use to bring us in touch with real people, in the real world.
Facebook. It's so sad. I love you. But you broke it all yourself.

By John Allsopp
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