Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook: “It’s Too Hard”

This is just one of many reasons why I harbor a fundamental disdain for Facebook’s policies and management decisions. When you’ve set the almighty dollar in a place where it trumps social responsibility in your decision-making process, it’s at that point you’ve betrayed yet again your utter contempt of the actual people that use your services. BOING BOING: Why Facebook’s “It’s Too Hard” excuse for Vietnam war photo takedown is bullshit

Backing Slowly Away From Facebook

So, everyone knows that Facebook has been on a tear the last couple of years to force their user base to use Facebook the way they think you should use it. (Right? This is pretty much common knowledge at this point, yes?) Every design update and developmental decision they’ve made in the last who-knows-how-many iterations of the service have been centered not on improving the user experience but on making more money for Facebook. They’ve thumbed their collective noses at us and jabbed their fingers in our eyes and basically told us that they know better than we do what information and updates we actually want to see. Nevermind the fact that there are dozens of browser extensions out there designed to force Facebook back into a more user-friendly format. Facebook knows best, and we’re supposed to just shut up about it and let them serve us.

When Facebook implemented Top Stories into the news feed in the mobile app, it was frustrating because, even though it gave you the option of showing the most recent updates (well, some of them, anyway), it wouldn’t allow you set your feed that way permanently. It still doesn’t. Because Facebook knows best, remember? But at least they put the option to change views in a relatively easy to access location. Just pull down slightly on your news feed to reveal the toggle, select Most Recent, and let the feed refresh.

In the latest update for the Facebook mobile app (iOS), they decided to do away with that option. Sort of. Oh, you can still choose to view the Most Recent version of your feed, but now you have to work at it a little harder. That easy-to-use toggle? Gone. Now if you want to view the Most Recent items, you have to dig for it.

fb1

The path to Most Recent is now about three layers deep. In order to find it, you have to tap on More in the lower right corner, then scroll down the screen until you find the Feeds section. It’ll be below the Favorites category, the Pages section, Groups, Apps, and Interests. Facebook really doesn’t want you to find it. To the right of the Feeds subheading is a tiny little arrow that points to the right. Tap this and a list of all the different feeds you can view will drop down. In the screenshot below, Most Recent is at the top of my list. That probably won’t be the case for you, at least not for the first few times you select it. It took a good half dozen times to get it float to the top of my list because apparently that’s how many times it takes before the app decides I’m serious about viewing it.

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This is just one item in a long list of complaints I have about Facebook. I’ve written about them before, at length (see the Related posts below, if you’re interested), and very few of my concerns have ever been corrected. If it wasn’t for the fact that Facebook is so entrenched in the social media stream, I’d delete my account right now. As it is, I’m starting to back away and use it less and less because A) I find it so gosh-darned frustrating to use and B) they’ve demonstrated time and again that they exist not for their users but for lining their own pockets. Which is good for them, I guess, but I’m tired of supporting a social ecosystem that I loathe and despise, and that loathes and despises me in turn.

I keep waiting for someone else to step and provide a competing solution that actually puts the users first. Google’s attempted to supplant them with their G+ service, even going so far as to ramrod it down their own user’s throats, with only minimal effectiveness. And Google has data privacy issues of their own in certain areas. Nothing else really exists. WordPress has a great little social media system called BuddyPress that you can set up and customize to your heart’s content, and I’ve been more than a little tempted to try going that route myself. What BuddyPress lacks, however, is the reach that Facebook (and even G+) has, and there’s no way you’re ever going to get your entire social network on Facebook to convert to a new, smaller network.

So here we wait, hoping something better comes along or that the Facebook executives will finally decide they don’t like making money hand over fist (yeah, right) to make a product that users actually like. Anyone wanna built a better social network with me?

WordPress, Facebook, Open Graph, and SEO Plugins

One of the plugins I use on all my WordPress-powered sites is Jetpack. It’s chock full of features that provide a richer experience on both the front and back ends. One of my favorite features is Publicize, which allows you to automatically notify the various social networks when you put up new content. I’ve used it religiously since it launched and had almost no problems.

Until recently. Over the last week or two, I’ve noticed that any new posts I put up here haven’t been showing up on Facebook. I initially thought it might be because I’d added Google+ to my profile, since it was a relatively new feature to Publicize. Except that when I removed the G+ authorization, new content still wouldn’t post to Facebook.

A handful of Google searches later indicated that the problem might have something to do with the presence (or lack thereof) of Open Graph tags in my site header information. Another Google search, and I learn that Open Graph is apparently the new(-ish) protocol that social media sites use to convert your content into objects that can be placed in your social media streams. Facebook in particular seems to favor this, and apparently the problem I was running into is that they have started to more strictly enforce the use of Open Graph. If the tags are missing, your content gets blocked and never appears in your feed.

I thought it odd that Jetpack wouldn’t include ‘og:’ tags, considering their importance to the function of Publicize. Another search, and sure enough, Jetpack does include those tags. Only they weren’t showing up for my sites. One thread over on the WordPress support forums suggested that another plugin could be causing problems, so I reviewed my lists and came across one plugin type that could very well be causing the issues.

SEO plugins. On one site, I use Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin. On another I use the All-In-One SEO plugin. Both have options for social media, but neither one had been enabled. I suspect what happened is that these were new options added in recent plugin updates that had to manually enabled. I hadn’t been aware of them and so hadn’t turned them on. A simple oversight on my part that caused issues with the communication between my site and Facebook, in particular.

I’ve got the social media options enabled in both places now, and so far the problem seems to be fixed. I actually like the way WordPress SEO handles it a little better than All-In-One. It’s more intuitive and seems to be more flexible, particularly in identifying the image associated with the content.

If you’re having similar problems, I recommend checking your SEO plugins first. Jetpack won’t insert ‘og:’ tags if you have SEO enabled, and that seems to be the problem.

That Free iPhone 5 Thing? Yes, It Really Is a Scam.

For the love of Pete, people. That free iPhone 5 thing that keeps going around on Facebook? It’s a hoax, a scam, a spammy link-bait lie designed to generate social currency so some chucklehead can then go and sell the page to the highest bidder, who can then change the content of the page and target you with marketing you don’t want to see. I mean, think about it. With a product like the iPhone, that any company is happy to accept on returns, exchanges, and upgrades to reburbish, repackage, and resell, why would they bother to give away free iPhones just because someone took the shrink wrap off the box? Simple answer: they wouldn’t, and they don’t. So please stop helping the scammers and stop reposting the link. The only ones with something to gain here are the scammers.

Facebook Sorts Nothing

So, Facebook has apparently decided to completely ignore the fact that they offer a “Sort: Most Recent” option for my News Feed, and instead, are now just showing me whatever the heck they want to because they seem to think — based on whatever crap algorithm their ‘genius’ programmers have written — that they know better than I do what items I want to see. This is nearly as useful as Google’s Importance indicators for Gmail, which are just as useless.

I kind of hate this company.

Hiding Facebook’s App Ticker

Facebook has rolled yet another obnoxious feature with no user option to disable it — the App Ticker. Apparently, some folks have seen it for a week or so now, but it only just showed up on my profile today. I’ve been using the wonderful Facebook Fixer script for the Greasemonkey addon to tweak the way my Facebook looks, but they haven’t rolled out an update to deal with the App Ticker. Fortunately, Facebook Fixer has a custom CSS area, so I used Firebug to identify and remove the elements of the App Ticker and the white space behind it. For those who also use Facebook Fixer and want to plug in the custom CSS for themselves, I’ll save you some time and post the code I used.

.fixedAux { display: none; }

.ego_wide .hasRightCol #contentArea { width: 1005px; }

You’re welcome.

Should You Quit Facebook?

Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook – Facebook – Gizmodo. Facebook’s privacy problems are no secret by now. It seems like the powers behind the social networking platform are always changing things, modifying user privacy settings without ever really notifying their users about the changes (and making it fairly difficult and confusing to change if they do). There has been a great deal of discussion about privacy and security on Facebook, and it continues to be a controversial topic. The article linked above lists ten compelling reason why users my consider bailing out on Facebook.

My take on the issue is simple: I have never posted anything on my Facebook profile that I wouldn’t necessarily tell someone in the course of a social conversation. If there’s something I wouldn’t be comfortable with anyone knowing, it doesn’t go up on my profile. One can never assume than anything on the Internet is 100% secure, and this is especially true with third-party applications. Whenever you place your data in the hands of someone else, you have to assume that there will be security leaks. Facebook has never helped in this area by making user information more and more accessible to the world and the application developers available throughout the site.

I have considered closing my Facebook account on several occasions, but not because of privacy issues. Instead, it’s Facebook’s Terms of Service clause that states that they own all of your data that you upload to your profile. As someone who is very interested in protecting my own copyrights of photos, stories, etc., that I create, I find this clause both offensive and disturbing. It’s another reason why I’m careful about what I add to my profile and why I generally choose, instead, to display my intellectual property on my own website rather than on my Facebook profile.

While there are any number of compelling reasons why Facebook’s policies are worrisome, I’m not yet quite ready to give up on the social networking giant. But I also know that I don’t ever plan to provide them with personal information that I don’t want anyone knowing about.

One Million

I love how every time I turn around, there’s a new “1,000,000 for/against [some random cause].” The latest I’ve seen is “1,000,000 against the new Facebook layout[1].” Why is one million always the magic number for these groups? In just about every case I’ve seen, one million isn’t even a majority number. For instance, in the case of the aforementioned group, one million users is, at best, only seven percent of the Facebook population[2]. If only 7% of a population dislike the layout, then that group is just going to have to suck it up and deal.

The same is true for just about every other group out there trying to rally for one million members. It’s rare that gathering that many people under one banner is going to be a majority. That being the case, why stop at one million? If you really want to sway the PTB[3], go big. Go for 50 million or 1 billion.

I think people go for one million because it’s a familiar number and it’s much easier for us to conceptualize than one billion or even 10 million. Few of us have ever seen one million of anything but we know what a millionaire is. Anything larger than that is usually outside our ability to imagine.

Maybe I just harbor a grudge against most bandwagons, since so many of them seem pointless and unnecessary, but for crying out loud, if you’re going to rally a group out of a population that’s over 75 million souls, one million just isn’t going to cut it. It’s in the numbers, people.

fn1. Really? I mean, _really?!_ I love the new layout, by and large. I just wish they’d finish the tweaking. Weeks on end of roaming bugs gets old after awhile – but then again, I _did_ opt in to beta-testing the new layout. And for that matter, folks who don’t like the new layout can always choose to switch back.

fn2. Based on a listing of 14 million people who used applications on Facebook last year. “This source”:http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_people_are_on_facebook suggests that the number may be well over 75 million by now, and so that percentage will be much smaller.

fn3. Powers That Be.