Facebook knows (us) best

Of all the top social networks Facebook most successfully satisfies our vanity. We’ve all gone online. We want our existence reinforced. Facebook has claimed a monopoly on our actual personal networks. Twitter, Google+ and Diaspora are biased to connecting outwardly, helping us forge new networks. While this is a more noble premise if you believe in the potential of the world wide web, it also makes these networks much more disposable.

I recently allowed my birthday to appear for my Facebook friends. I received over thirty birthday wall posts. This personal and very human connection got me thinking that this is where Facebook’s advantage lies. Only Facebook virtually guarantees feedback on the signals we put out now matter how small our networks. This is because for most we’ve replicated our real life social networks on Facebook and nowhere else online.

I really like Twitter but I rarely use it for social purposes. My following is currently too small to give me much feedback on what I put out there. I do appreciate that so many reputable periodicals and notables use it to broadcast their links and links they find interesting. Twitter is life support to my Flipboard. The greatest paradox I find in Twitter is that nothing is better for receiving signals yet nothing is worse for sending them (for the average individual). I think Twitter will need to become more authentically social or the jig may be up very soon. I’m actually surprised Apple went with deep Twitter integration for the latest iOS release. I rarely use it. For photos I prefer Instagram as it sends out to several social services simultaneously. Why would I just Tweet photos when it’s nearly a guarantee no one is looking for my personal stuff there? Not saying I don’t do it but I’ve learned not to expect much feedback from Twitter. Thus far Apple hasn’t demonstrated many successful ideas for social media as relates to their software and devices.

I can see a counterpoint argument suggesting I just need to put more effort into Twitter. But why should I? My existence on Facebook is validated with minimal effort. Interestingly I’ve been getting decent feedback on Diaspora.

My Google+ profile has been floundering. My Facebook friends just did not migrate over. I dislike so much about Google right now that I can’t bring myself to invest more of my time in what feel like mediocre/unfinished products.

To circle back I don’t want to leave the impression that I’m pro-Facebook. I’m just pointing out that they will continue to be on top because they are better at finding ways to use our personal data to deliver the most meaningful signals to us. To leave off on a critical note, the Facebook paradigm feels too simplistic. The Like button has likely done irreparable damage in over-simplifying a complex world. Facebook’s presentation often feels much more superficial than the other networks.

I think the answer is not to have one network to rule them all, but to open up the ports so they can start to talk to each other. This comes back to the Promise of Diaspora. Many Diaspora users have closed out their Facebook accounts. I won’t be closing any social accounts until the day comes when I can communicate and interact with Facebookers without needing to actually be on Facebook.

4 thoughts on “Facebook knows (us) best”

  1. I purposely refuse to allow my birthdate on FB, specifically because I don’t want a bunch of “Happy Birthday” comments. It just feels like spam. I also refuse to wish anyone a Happy Birthday on FB, because I don’t want to just join in with everyone else doing it, plus I’ve got so many. I’ve got over 600 FB friends, so almost everyday is @ least one person’s birthday (there’s 3 birthdays today).

    I’ve also been surprised @ how little G+ has caught on. I really thought it would be bigger by now. I recently read somewhere that they had over 61 million users, which is nothing to sneeze @. But, as it stands, most of my FB have not migrated in any meaningful way. Of those who have signed up, they rarely use it. Most of the active communications I have on G+ are with new G+ friends. But I’m still more active on FB because that’s where the people I actually know are.

    I finally dumped Twitter again a couple of months ago. I just couldn’t find any regular use for it.

  2. Hey Jason – First time perusing your blog. While I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said, we should always be mindful that Users-Are-The-Product on all of the free-beer social networks, wherein WordPress is not excluded. I’m not saying that it can’t be a symbiotic relationship, but it does require diligence. Do take half a minute to regard what the Electronic Frontier Foundation has to say regarding what largest on-line sites share with the Biggest of Brothers (search for “EFF who has your back”).

    1. That’s definitely an interesting chart/study. With WordPress, my use of it extends solely to the .org open source self-installed version. I think once you rely on any of these as services as opposed to open source software you are indeed the product. From a philosophical standpoint WordPress does great. From this study, Twitter is the clear leader in respecting the rights of its users.

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