I’m in it. I’m stuck in the trap in the worst way and have no excuse. I’m one of those sad souls who know that what Facebook does is wrong, how they do it is worse, why they do it is almost unspeakable, and yet I visit the site every day. Every few days I think, “Today’s the day. I’m going to do it. I’m going to kick the Facebook habit and delete my account.”
And yet I keep coming back.
In one of the most detailed explanations of the improper ways in which Facebook uses questionable practices to get people onto their site and keep them there, Anil Dash explains how Facebook is Gaslighting the Web. It’s a compelling piece that brought me closer to the delete button, but I talked myself off of the ledge by convincing myself that a blog post would do just fine instead.
Facebook has heavy users chasing their own tails. Nearly every move the company has made over the last couple of years points to several intentions that the company is trying to either disguise through “it’s-for-your-own-good” warnings are by simply blocking out the alternatives.
- Facebook has a closed garden mentality that wants to get people to the site and keep them there.
- Their attempts to “protect” us are always steered towards the primary goal of keeping us on the site.
- They have tools and widgets that people (including me) use in an effort to enhance their sites but that actually do very little other than send visitors away and into the Facebook trap.
- Things that should be made easier are getting harder (such as RSS-fed content being stopped by Facebook tomorrow).
- Things that should be made harder are getting easier (such as the rash of porn and offensive content hitting the site in the last week).
As the company prepares to go public sometime next year, they’re making a concerted effort to solidify their revenue model and lock in their user base. Business is business and a company should not be faulted for trying to be profitable, but the tail-chasing component is the part that chaps my khakis.
Too Big to Leave
Those who use Facebook to stay connected with friends and relatives are stuck. There’s simply no other venue that bridges us with our distant (or local) acquaintances like Facebook. The result is that we get in, check on what’s happening in everyone’s life, post a little about what’s happening in our lives, and then repeat the process.
We’re chasing our own tails and they know it. They know we won’t leave because there’s no place to go that’s more convenient.
From a business perspective, companies often devote time and money into making their Facebook presence strong. Only Google and Bing draw more attention from many businesses from a marketing perspective and Bing will fall to 3rd place soon enough. Our customers are on Facebook, so we need to be. That’s the mentality, at least.
Businesses are chasing their own tails to take advantage of Facebook, yet few can actually quantify a return on investment. They know they need to be there. They just aren’t sure what the benefits are.
Social media has taken over such a large portion of our lives that many feel trapped by it. We make decision based upon it. We make mistakes that get highlighted on it. We’re like sheep under the watchful eye of an evil shepherd.
All of this makes me want to Tweet my frustrations away.