Facebook has an identity crisis

Social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, and others, all grew in popularity because of their innovation, convenience, and “fun” factor. Facebook, specifically, took the concept of the blog and somehow made it smaller. Instead of sharing a long string of thoughts, you were sharing a single thought or idea. People weren’t thinking about the potential business applications, because it was personal.

I remember back when Facebook introduced the fan page that there were a bunch of pages which were set up to compete against each other. There were pages like “This shoe is going to get more likes than the rock,” and “This rock is going to get more likes than the shoe.” I recall being a supporter of the shoe. It was all in good fun, because nobody was taking any of this stuff too seriously.

Fast forward to today, and it is amazing to think about all of the features that Facebook offers: marketplace, events, groups, messaging, video, and even dating. It looked at both its competitors and all of the other sites that were popular and said, “Sure, we can do that too.” And, we accepted that Facebook was the right company to offer us all of these different services because the platform had been so consistently useful. This was acceptable back before so much of our lives were online, but now that we store so much of our data on the cloud the time has come for us to ask if we can wholeheartedly trust Facebook to make customer service a priority. My recent experience has taught me that perhaps it is not. And, Facebook likes to stick to the middle when it comes to taking responsibility for posts and media that course through its network. It likes to cherry pick the categories that feels the most convenient depending on the circumstance. For example, it has encouraged the news media to post its content onto its network, but it is not a news organization. It’s set up algorithms which control what we see on our newsfeeds, but the company is neutral when it comes to deciding what we should be seeing.

Facebook is like a high school sophomore who is dabbling in a lot of professions, but is still undecided about what it wants to do after graduation. Heck, it still seems as if it hasn’t decided yet what kind of social media network it should be.

As users, I think that a moment is coming when we will need to decide what part social media should play in our lives. Whether it should continue to be treated as a diversion or a source of news and information that should be made a guaranteed right for everybody. If it is the latter, then companies like Facebook and Twitter should be treated more like a utility than just social media. And, I would argue that people rely on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks that their access should be protected to some degree.

Regardless of Facebook’s fate during these next few years, I think it’s important that we take an honest look at the company that its become. No longer the home of fan pages devoted to rocks or old shoes, Facebook touches so many of aspects of our lives that it is time to stand our ground and demand that the company lives up to its responsibilities and treat its users with a great deal more respect.


One thought on “Facebook has an identity crisis

  1. Interesting essay. As a natural-born capitalist, my first thought would be: “If a company isn’t providing enough customer service, simply patronize its competitors.” After all, there are plenty of grocery stores we can shop at, plenty of computer manufacturers we can buy our hardware from, plenty of car insurance vendors to choose from.

    But there’s only one Facebook.

    Sure, there are other social networks, but unless you can persuade all your friends (past and future) to jump ship with you, what’s the point?

    Facebook essentially has a monopoly on the social network scene. And monopolies have little incentive to keep their customers happy. (Remember the old “We don’t care, we don’t have to” skit from SNL?) I’m glad you are raising awareness on this issue. Hopefully someone at Facebook is listening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *