I enjoy using Facebook. After using Friendster, Tribe, MySpace, and Orkut, Facebook was a breath of fresh air. I have never received Spam, and I’ve only had one or two random people try to “friend” me during the 2 years that I’ve been a member. Since Facebook evolved from a university setting, it lends itself well to interaction (unlike Friendster), it doesn’t assault my senses with horrendous themes or auto-playing multimedia files, and people are usually clothed in their profile pictures. It’s really a very positive experience after using MySpace.
Facebook is getting ready to launch a brand new interface (which you can see at http://www.new.facebook.com), and the changes promise to be for the better. Everyone I know has a mild case of Facebook Application fatigue. For at least two months, I fought my way through Zombie, Pirate, Snowball Fight, and Knighthood requests, just to see if there was any legitimate communication from my friends. Unfortunately, there were far more application referrals and updates going on than anything else, and communication was reduced to a lot of clicking on links and buttons. The new Facebook interface will change this by significantly tightening up application security. Application developers will no longer be allowed to force you to invite your friends in order for you to see the outcome of a quiz, test, or any other information you’ve submitted. This should dramatically reduce the application clutter that everyone is experiencing. Applications that don’t meet certain privacy requirements and applications that continue to force users to promote them will be banned. Maybe this will force the developers to work harder to keep user interest instead of trapping them in an unbreakable invitation loop.
Privacy is also going to be a much bigger priority on Facebook . There have been several complaints, petitions, and requests from the user community for additional privacy controls, information from application developers about how their information is being used, and ways to prevent Facebook itself from distributing their information (remember Beacon anyone?). Facebook is changing all of that by allowing users to try the applications before they allow their information to be shared with the developer. This gives me a little more piece of mind about my application use, and I think it’s a huge step in the right direction. Facebook is learning from their previous privacy mistakes, and these new changes will give them a significant edge over the competition.