Five Things Facebook Should Fix Immediately

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Let me start with two questions. Why is it that such a successful company as Facebook feels like it needs to change and reinvent its interface constantly? And why are we so complacent with these changes that, quite literally, disrupt our online social lives?

We have seen how social media is changing the world around us, yet we don’t have a say in its progress. Undeniably, Facebook is already part of all of our lives, even for non-users.

We shouldn’t take the site for granted. After all, it has over half a billion users. Alternatively, we should not allow it to take us—their users—for granted either. I remember back when I was heavily using Digg, they made so many changes, that it was all too hard to follow. At around version 4, I couldn’t use it anymore and therefore left the site.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of new design and up-to-date features. But when one has such a large community of users, you need to make changes carefully and not force your members to suffer through your own growing pains. It’s true, we can all leave the site if we are upset with the changes. No one is forcing us to be members. But most of us don’t want to leave. We want to be part of this community. Facebook should acknowledge some of the problems that need to be resolved and show appreciation for the mass following they have built before it slips away.

I’d like to highlight 5 critical problems that Facebook needs to fix immediately:

Groups
One day I saw this update on my Facebook feed: “If one more person adds me to a group, I’m sending you to the unfriended land.” I easily related to this, can’t you? I don’t know what Facebook was thinking by letting anyone add you to a group, and start sending messages as a default setting. That’s like saying: Hello spam, come visit me more often. And yes, your Facebook friends are the biggest spammers in the world, they just might not know it.

By the time I wake up in the morning, my mailbox has at least two new group invites (I’m not sure we can even call them invites), and email discussions around this group, mostly from people that have no clue why this group owner added them. Couldn’t you handle this one better Facebook? Shouldn’t I get an email suggesting that I join this group in the first place? And thank god, my chatbox is closed most of the time because if I had to get all of those Group discussions inside chat, I’d go nuts. I’m a member of my high school’s group (something that is always nice to remember) but I know some people that left the group since the chat was too annoying for them and they didn’t want to deal with (nor understand) the odd settings. So rant number one: Make groups less spammy.

Photo Viewer

I wanted to leave this section open and let you all say whatever that comes to your mind.. but I feel like I must say it out loud: What the hell?!

How did this design replace the previous one? The user experience is so completely wrong here. The light box annoys the eye and basically it is just a bad visual that doesn’t fit the overall design of the site. A photo viewer is for viewing pictures, but the pictures are now displayed in a smaller format so you get a poorer experience than before. Why did you fix something that wasn’t broken, Facebook?

And before you tell me to click F5 and forget about it, I don’t want to and I shouldn’t have to either. I think it looks bad, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, and since photos are a huge part of the site, I also don’t think it’s a good idea to change it from good to worse. Usually, it goes the other way around.

Places
To have a world of possibilities is sometimes great and sometimes confusing. I love both Foursquare and Gowalla, and only lately have I started to use Facebook Places. But when it comes to choosing one service, Facebook is my last choice. Why? You can’t connect it to Twitter. Perhaps Facebook thinks all my friends are on Facebook, but even so, if I want them to know where I am, I’d like to extend this ability to make sure they’ll be able to see my statuses from other platforms as well. I still don’t get why Facebook is so closed. If people want privacy they can set their own personal choices. What if other people want to share more? I think Facebook should allow it. After all, it’s a “social” network, right?

Messaging
I can honestly say that I haven’t switched from the old messaging platform to the new one. But I’ve noticed people sending me up to 10 emails when they meant to send only one. Most people don’t know how to fix this so they always just apologize for sending too many messages, which results in even more messages. Overall, it looks like Facebook is trying to make everything behave like chat (i.e., new commenting system) when chat is not something everyone feels comfortable using all the time.

Tabs
Now, I don’t want to say Facebook is evil, but I don’t really understand how they could dismiss the customized tabs so easily after people worked so hard on them, and many companies were built specifically around this creation space. Yes, I know you can still see tabs, but not as prominently as before. Again, this was to me at least the part of Facebook that was fun and now has been marginalized. With the latest changes from FBML to Iframe, many users who could create customized tabs on their own have been left with obsolete skills. Seriously, if a company asked me if it’s worth it to create something from the Facebook API, I’d say it’s a risky situation since Facebook so easily changes things solely for their own benefit. Tabs are one great example of that. I would never expect them to change such a great feature. One that really gave users and brands the feeling of ownership but, alas they did…

Remember when it used to be so much fun to use Facebook? When you had games right in your face (not just news), when you could see your connections from Flickr, Youtube, and other sites, when it was just a more friendly place? I miss that.

Does Facebook not care anymore? Or does it just demonstrate our own apathy and powerlessness as users?

Social media is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Don’t forget you have a voice. Use it. You can start in comments below.