A definite shift has happened to Facebook in the last few months. It appears the introduction of the new “Timeline” has bought in a new set of algorithms that control the content that we each see. Scroll down through your newsfeed and the majority of content is pictures and videos – personal updates now take a backseat.
This is due to Facebooks “Edgerank” system that determines which content appears in your newsfeed. It also makes assumptions from your previous interactions who your friends are and ranks their importance above others. So replying to random peoples messages makes Facebook think you are best buddies. Hence, there they are, always in your newsfeed.
Sure there are options to somewhat manage this, but setting them for each person is as confusing as it is time consuming.
The problem increases the more friends we each acquire. The 500 million or so users that junk up Facebook every day means that, as you increase your amount of friends, the more susceptible you are to Facebook deciding what you should see. What used to be a personalized experience, is becoming lead by the perceived “majority thinking” of the Facebook population.
In this age of unlimited personal choice, is this not exactly what kills businesses?
The record industry suffered because it was so use to determining what you should hear based on the majority. So when the shift in music discovery and consumption came, the labels just didn’t keep up. More and more people are leaving pre-scheduled cable and satellite for on-demand services like Roku. This is because peoples experiences are not determined by the majority, but by the individual, and if they have choice they will take the path that suits them.
Facebooks heavy-handed managing of you and your friends is making the previously growing world an ever shrinking place.
And this is the problem Facebook now faces – it has just become too big that it has to somehow limit itself.
When Facebook first came along it seemed we had a new selectivity, a more controlled environment. A look at the facebook newsfeed now, and it is visibly becoming more chaotic each day. In fact, the endless photos covered in cheap text and “funny” quotes make it appear a jumbled mess. The neatness and simplicity has been hijacked, the reality is it is sprawling out of control.
Is this not what started Myspace’s demise? The decreased personalization of the experience.
No wonder Facebook is going public, it must be a sign that the end is near, a peak has been reached, and a shift is coming.
The simplicity that Twitter has with its limited characters and chronological timeline is increasingly appealing to those who want a cleaner experience. Though some may have gawked at in the past as a gimmick, those wanting to see the news of the people they actually choose to follow, may well find it a refreshing and easy alternative to the quagmire facebook has become. Similarly Tumblr, and now Pinterest, offer a much neater photo based experience. Google+ appears to suffer the same problem as Facebook, in that it is just not a succinct enough engine and already feels like it is failing to remain in control.
The past is a great predictor of the future, and just like we change our cars, phones, and even partners every few years, it seems a change in social networks is upon us too.
Where will you go?