How Facebook Has Evolved - From Social Networking to Social Stalking

From what I've heard, in the initial years after Facebook launched in 2004, it was a university's prestige to have special access to Facebook for its students.  Then it became public.  Then it became a trend; the first thing you'd ask if someone was on Facebook, the next thing was to add them immediately.  Over the years the developers introduced several applications, improved privacy settings, launched advertisements and sponsorships, created Fan pages, added video-sharing and chat, connected and reconnected friends, families, and strangers around the world, and enhanced overall user experience.  Basically, Facebook became the only other thing (apart from women) having the power to attract people of all ages.

Leon Håland
 depicted it took the social networking service 852 days to reach the 10 million-user mark, and as of July 2011, official Facebook statistics show it has reached more than 750 million active users.  Kelly Hodgkins says "Nielsen estimates that Americans spent 53 billion minutes on Facebook during the month of May [2011].  These 53 billion minutes are equal to 100,000 years or 36.8 million days. Before your mind blows up, this number represents the usage of 150 million Facebook users. Breaking it down, each user is spending about 350 minutes per month..."  And if that’s just America alone, I can’t imagine what the rest of the world adds up to.

However, if Facebook made it easier to broadcast an event, invite friends, and receive RSVPs, it also informed a lot of unwanted people about the when-what-where of the event.  If it made sharing photos with friends and families simple, it also invited many unsought spying eyes.  If it made letting everyone in friends list know 'What's on my mind', it made some people really, really abuse the feature by updating absurd status messages (TMI [Too Much Information], sometimes).  If it made adding and bonding with long lost people easy, it also obsessed some to increase their friends list for the heck of the digits (my last count was 499 friends).

Gone are the glory days of Farmville, Mafia Wars, Texas Hold‘em Poker, and Café World, but oh boy, they were a rage and kept people glued to Facebook for hours.  But now by the time I blink my eye Facebook gives another news feed, one more update, changes a setting, or adds a feature.  Especially the celebrated feature "Like" since April 2010.  Sahil Gupta of NDTV Gadgets writes, "The Like button is now an integral part of social networking consciousness, and the term is commonly used to express appreciation."  Whether it's for a status message, a link, a photo, or a wall post, the "Like" is clicked liberally (yes, I’m guilty too).  But I've seen some on a higher level, "I'm bored!" – Like; “OMG I ate so much today!" – Like; “Just out of shower brrrrrr!" – Like.  And when you have nothing else to say, click "Like".

Earlier it was simple to navigate, I could categorize into just Friends and Family, allowing limited access to certain people; there were no Close Friends, Acquaintances, Restricted, Area-wise, Workplaces, Schools and University lists like it is now.  Earlier, if my News Feed got populated by certain people, it was simple enough to just "Hide" the post or the person; I did not have to answer a multiple-choice question like now.  And previously if I did not want my activity to be seen by anyone on my profile, I could just simply remove it from being seen; there was no "Ticker" on the top right corner - my plight but a stalker's delight.

I am least bothered about who went when and where with who.  I am not interested to see whose link, photo, status, or post everyone liked, commented on, shared, or was tagged in.  I don't want to know who everyone became friends with.  Neither do I want any of these details of mine be publicized to everyone, just certain people.  Yes I love sharing my status messages and photos regularly, but I’d like my friends to have the freedom to choose to hide or view my updates.  And If I'm concerned, I'll look up a particular friend's profile myself and vice versa!  I don’t need a real-time “Ticker”.  And on top of that – Recent story, Top stories, Subscribe – what is this, CNN.com?

Facebook claiming that these changes are to make it easier for us to see what we care more about is doing it all wrong.  I am a regular user and a Facebook addict since May 2007, if I remember it right.  Several times I tried deactivating my account, but the photos of friends and family it shows saying “He will miss you” and “She will miss you” makes me emotional and change my mind.  But with this information overload, lack of privacy and prone to stalking, I might have to reconsider.  I could rant more on how it has incorporated disappointing ‘improvements’, but wait, let me go check if I have any new notifications.

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Personal opinion write-up; all stated above are my own  :-)

2 comments:

  1. Great post! Good read! Would say more but I have just got to get back to Facebook :)

    ReplyDelete

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