Digging into Facebook hate

I just saw this post on +Vic Gundotra's account https://plus.google.com/107117483540235115863/posts/KPkYfr4pdqf about +Tim O'Reilly and his fascination with Google+.

Glad to see other smart people joining Google+. I was getting tired of people on Twitter assuming that it was only me excited about Google+.

But for the past month I've really been ignoring Google+ and Twitter and spending a lot of time on Facebook. What did I do there? I rebuilt my social graph. I added more than 3,000 likes. I built new interest lists. And I spent every possible minute there.

Why? Because on Google+ there was so much Facebook hate that I thought it would be interesting to really dig in and see if the hate had any basis and also see what would happen if I really did put a lot more data about myself into Facebook.

Yesterday I was talking with Rackspace exec +Lew Moorman about Facebook. He is one of those who just doesn't see the value in Facebook. Even Tim O'Reilly and I have had a little debate about Facebook, too. He wants to keep Facebook to just close friends and family so he can see their pictures and not miss anything and also he doesn't want to overwhelm his friends and family with tech industry posts. That's what Google+ and Twitter are for, he told me.

I can't disagree. But I'll be honest, I'm getting a lot more engagement over on Facebook simply because I am using it for stuff that most people aren't.

Here's some things I've learned about Facebook and Google+ in this process:

1. The more you give Facebook about yourself the better the content (and ads) get.

2. The more you build lists the more you'll see that Facebook has a real shot at taking away Twitter's air supply.

3. Facebook's machine learning is years ahead of that on Twitter and Google+. Start a new list, for instance, of, say, venture capitalists. Put three or four on that list. Then watch as it recommends other venture capitalists to add to the list. This is way ahead of anything on Twitter or Google+. Google+, for instance, still suggests people to me who never have posted here.

4. Facebook's usage model is confusing and its UI is overly complex. This is where Twitter and Google+ (Google+ especially) is way ahead. As Zuckerberg tries to push Facebook into new places its UI and usage model has gotten weak. If I hate something about Facebook it is here.

5. Privacy is not the problem. Addiction is. I have been dealing with some issues in my marriage lately and talking to lots of other couples. You would be shocked how many marriages are stressed out because one or both partners are staring at their screens all night. Another example of addiction? Texting while driving. I even feel this pull while driving and I am constantly fighting it. I think the privacy debate in this country has taken the media oxygen away from this far more dangerous problem. Let's be honest, you aren't going to write anything really criminal on Facebook anyway. Is the government going to get you because of what you put on social media? Probably not. Yeah, there are examples where this happens, but, seriously, far less often than you'll see stuff like this crash, due to texting and driving: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/241826062591137

6. I like the "flow" on Google+ and Twitter (if you use the Mac app) a lot better than the "need to refresh the page to see new stuff" way that Facebook works. Moving items show me something new has arrived.

7. Facebook's noise controls are getting dramatically better and are way ahead of anything on Google+ and Twitter. That said, they are imperfect. For instance, on my family list I don't want to see items about my brother's bar (the Tim O'Reilly problem we talked about). I have no control of that. I also can't block some lame things, like all the birthday messages going around. Really, if I cared about your birthday I'd send you a private note, or, even better, a gift from Karma.

8. Facebook's API is years ahead of Twitter or Google+. Cool apps come out every day, like Karma, for gift reminders, or Highlight, for seeing people near you, that use Facebook. These apps are simply impossible to build on any other system and the problem will get worse over time. Pinterest could not have started on Google+ or Twitter, but it did on Facebook. Social Cam and Viddy are getting white hot right now because of how they integrate with Facebook (while they are overly aggressive I've noticed that Facebook has tweaked the noise protections to quiet these things down a lot).

9. Facebook's ads are starting to make sense to me. Including friends' names who have liked a brand makes ads much more interesting. Plus, I can see that the ads are better targeted at specific demographics than anything I've seen on Google or Twitter. There's a reason why Facebook's IPO is largely expected to be near $100 billion valuation and this is it. Google should really be freaked out by just how good the demographic data is over on Facebook and how narrowly ads can be targetted.

10. Facebook's mobile apps still suck, but, then, so do those from Twitter and Google+. So, the industry has opportunity ahead of it here. I wouldn't be shocked if a totally mobile social network sprung up. Oh, wait, one already did: Instagram. Social Cam is another example that I'm really enjoying, too. But Facebook's web page is actually pretty nice for iPhone and iPad users (so is Google+). I find I am using the web browser 95% of the time on all of these. Twitter is one exception. The third-party apps for that really rock. That puts Twitter ahead of the pack, and is one reason why Twitter is seeing content flows that the other social networks can't touch (one billion tweets every two or three days).

11. Facebook users are more addicted than Google+. I see this in my engagement numbers, but others see it in traffic numbers. Facebook users are spending more time on site and are more likely to respond and push things along.

12. Most people have turned on too much privacy on Facebook. Lots of people want to friend me, but when I look at their profile I can't even see who they are or why I might want to friend them. This is a real problem because Facebook has freaked out much of its user base. Google and Twitter, on the other hand, don't have that problem so it's easier to find people on those two services. Not to mention that Google+ and Twitter have a more defacto public stance or affordance. Facebook, since you probably got on it just to share photos with your close friends, is far more closed feeling even though you can be totally public on Facebook too.

12b. Facebook hasn't earned the trust of many of its users. I think this really is where the core of the Google+ hate of Facebook comes from. People are freaked out by Facebook's mission, which is to know everything about you so it can serve you better media. Google+ has the same mission, actually, but is coming in later after everyone's freaky line has been shoved by Zuckerberg, and also is way behind on machine learning and app integration, so doesn't look so freaky to most people. I guarantee you that Google will be just as freaky in five years. Why? It will have to be or else Facebook will just run off with advertisers in huge droves.

13. There are lots of little things I like better over on Facebook. For instance, I can post a YouTube video to a comment. That is so cool.

14. Facebook messaging is way ahead of Google+. I miss messages all the time that people leave for me here. Why? Because messages aren't separate from all the other notifications. So, I can't see them if it's an active day here. I've really started hating how Google Circles and messages work here and how badly designed the notifications are. That said, Facebook messages aren't perfect. Email is still better for 65% of what I get sent on Facebook. If Google integrates Gmail in a elegant way then Google+ could really fly by Facebook in this respect.

15. Facebook's search sucks. Er, is almost non-existent. I so miss Google+ when I want to find other articles over on Facebook on a specific topic. Even Twitter search is 100x better than Facebook and that's saying something because Twitter search has huge holes in it.

16. Facebook brings far less noise into my view than Google+ and especially Twitter. People who hate Facebook's filters simply haven't taken the time to play around with them. They are very well thought out and I hope Google+ really brings us much better noise control soon. Funny enough Google is a great search engine for Facebook's public items. That's how I found these tips I wrote up for you https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10150721301354655

17. Photos still look better on Google+ in the feed but once you click on them the full-screen views on Facebook are slightly sharper, at least in tests with my Canon 5D MKIII. That said, overall I like how photos are treated here better, although only by a slight amount (used to be much better, but Facebook dramatically improved its photos since Google+ came on the scene).

18. Flipboard remains my favorite way to read the news. Facebook and Twitter are stunningly displayed in that tool. Google+ is non-existent. That really bums me out. Hey, Vic, can you fix that by getting them an API and working with them to get Google+ in there?

So, to wrap this up. Is Facebook hatred that I've seen on Google+ justified? Yes, some of it. The company mistreated its users many times over the past few years and earned some of the angst it's now seeing. But, on the other hand, I think much of it is misplaced and demonstrates that people just aren't willing to put the time into making these things work well and aren't going to reevaluate their positions even after new features come out. This is working against Google+ too as many people think it's a ghost town or that there's no reason to use it instead of Facebook or Twitter.

How about you? Do you hate Facebook? Why? Has your usage of it changed a lot since the new features like Timeline, Ticker, Interest Lists, and Subscriptions have come out?

Do you agree with or disagree with my findings?

That said, I'm now going to redistribute my social media time back to Google+ and blogging a bit.
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