Apparently, Half A Billion People Hate Facebook

Last month, two interesting pieces of data came out about internet giant Facebook.  The first was that it surpassed 500,000,000 subscribers.  Half-a-billion.  Holy crap.  That’s a lot of people.  That is >7% of the world’s population, and nearly a third of the people estimated to have access to the internet.  Talk about market-share.
You’d think that’d be all good news for the social-networking king, but the other thing I saw was an article in the NYT that cited a study by ForeSee Results (out of the University of Michigan) that produces the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which evaluates products and services in the US.  This report included social networking sites for the first time in their data – and guess who was at the bottom?  That’s right.  Facebook.  Right there with airlines and cable companies.  People LOVE their insurance companies compared to Facebook.  I gotta admit, I didn't see that one coming.
And certainly, you see it all over – on Twitter and bafflingly on Facebook itself – folks sounding off about how much they hate Facebook.  That it’s trying to take over the world.  That it’s trying to steal their information and sell it to nefarious conglomerates.  I find this crazy.

Crazy because the last time I looked, no one held a gun to your head and MADE you sign up for Facebook.  And how much is Facebook asking you to pay to use it?  Oh, that’s right, nothing.  And does Facebook require that you post and include personal information?  Nope.  I will admit that I found their old “what’s private and what’s not” to be a little confusing, but their most recent one is clear and straightforward.  You can tailor content (I hid peoples’ Farmville updates a LONG time ago) and their ads are pretty unobtrusive as sidebar ads go (though I do really wonder if certain games have been banned in Utah…).

Some of the frustration seems to be that people feel that you HAVE to be on Facebook.  And I understand that right now, if you want to do the whole social-network thing, there’s no great alternative — though bless their not-evil hearts, Google keeps trying.    And if the level of dissatisfaction in the ACSI report is true, they probably should keep trying, because Facebook could be ripe for a challenger.  Maybe that’s what all the frustration is about — people really want to feel like they have a choice.  Well, you could always use MySpace.  Oh, that's right, MySpace blows and is creepy.
There IS a choice though and a simple way to express your disdain for Facebook – don’t use it.  Delete your account or don’t ever start one.  I know I know… if someone does that, how could they ever keep track of the people in their lives?  I suppose they'd have to think back to those crazy days way back in 2004 and use things like e-mail and phones.  I bet those old-fangled ways would still work, though it probably means you’d lose track of that old classmate from high school calculus class again.

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35 thoughts on “Apparently, Half A Billion People Hate Facebook

  1. I agree with you and I also have a really funny cartoon to share about this. I am always shocked that adults not only use Facebook but also use their real names (Which I did not, I used mine to communicate with a tiger rescue group) and they actually post private information. Wow.
    However, there is one problem. And it's a funny coincidence becaue I just sent Facebook a nasty letter this morning. The problem? You cannot delete your account. You can only "deactivate" it. They keep all your information on file. Just like Twitter. Shame on me, for not reading this beforehand (I am assuming they tell users this somewhere, otherwise, I have an even nastier opinion of them).

  2. I keep telling people that I will never sign up for Facebook because there are a lot of people I do not want to be able to find me … If I really cared, I'm pretty sure I could find them some other way.

  3. I really have no problem with Facebook. Many people screech about it having your information, but really, Facebook does nothing to verify that info and does not prevent you from giving false information. (which is why each year, on Not my Birthday I get 200 birthday wishes from people who have no idea it is not my birthday….and a mystified note from my relatives and friends who are sure we already celebrated….) I have no interest in placing my phone number on there or anything like that. I have enjoyed catching up with people from High school and such, alot.

  4. Haha, this is funny. I think some of it boils down to people's misunderstandings about privacy, what Facebook can do with your data (which hasn't always been crystal clear), and Facebook's privacy settings. I wish more people knew that you can limit your status updates to certain people or groups of people. Then I might not have to read so many posts about politics and Jesus.

  5. Some of the frustration seems to be that people feel that you HAVE to
    be on Facebook. And I understand that right now, if you want to do the
    whole social-network thing, there’s no great alternative — though
    bless their not-evil hearts, Google keeps trying.If you want a professional alternative, there is always LinkedIn. But for social, Facebook does rule. The problem is that their rule is autocratic in all the wrong ways. They change your settings without telling you and re-arrange things to maximize their short-term profit instead of your long-term enjoyment (which would also maximize their long-term profit). In short, they are acting the way Microsoft did when it had 95% market share instead of the way that it does now that it only has 90%….John

  6. Some of the frustration I have seen is that facebook continually changes their format, their policies, the layout. A person finally gets used to how it works and that is the day they revamp it. I can't figure out why because I have heard nothing good about the changes. Too bad.

  7. If I have to hear one more self-righteous "why I won't ever join Facebook, Twitter, etc." rant I'm gonna scream. I use it, I like it, but I know it's not for everyone. Wow, half a billion? That's WILD.

  8. The deal is, it's become the phone company. Or, the cable company. Do you like them? No. So, just give up cable and phone, right? Is anyone holding a gun to your head and forcing you to have a telephone? Or cable? No. But with half a billion subscribers, who, critically, include all of one's far-flung family members with whom there is no other way to keep in close touch, you're screwed. I hate facebook. see ya there.

  9. Yeah, have to agree with Mark. There isn't a compulsion to join – but considering the number of people you can keep in touch with if you like and the ease with which you can reach out to them, there is a certain convenience to FB. I use its "Limited Profile" feature to make sure only certain people can see my photos etc and I have no qualms about rejecting friend requests as well.That being said, some days it does get to me – the clamour of virtual voices. Then I don't sign in for weeks and feel distinctly calmer at the end of it.

  10. Aaaaamen! This is why I don't have a Facebook. Or a Myspace. Or a Twitter. Or a Schoolfriends account. Because I hate them. What I don't get is people who hate them and keep using them. Whiny bastids.

  11. I was willing to give buzz a shot but in order for it to be a social network it has to be social, and there wasn't a lot of people on there.
    Buzz also has the philosophy that you are members of all of these partner networks and as you post to them, things will appear in Buzz. Facebook, however, takes the tact that you can do everything on facebook and there is no need for other sights. It is onestop posting. Pictures, blogs (or notes), chatting, and groups. Face book is easier for the poster although I feel Buzz would be better for the subscriber because finding updates on facebook can be tricky at times.

  12. I actually really like Facebook. When they move it all around it usually irks me for about three minutes, until I figure it out and realize I can't do anything to change it (except huff about it and deactivate my account). But other than that, I love being able to talk to so many people and share news and find out about what's happening in people lives.
    Farmville? That's SOOO 2009. I hid it forever ago. I hide all apps, in fact. I don't care about your freaking farm.

  13. Emmi — like you say, I don't think people read enough of the service agreement when they sign on for accounts like facebook. It's stated pretty clearly what they can and can't keep — yet, people always seemed surprised. Caveat emptor!

  14. GOM — the weirdest thing that I know is a person that I know that adds everyone that gets suggested to her. She now has >2500 "friends". I find that pretty crazy.

  15. MK — I think you're totally right that the sites that can become the effective "integrators" of all this information will be the ones that command the traffic and the "face" time of people.

  16. Katie — I completely agree about the Farmville/Mafia Wars addiction (they must be addicting, right?). I am always confused by people that complain that facebook has their information — they gave it to them!!

  17. Hapa — I've really tailored my feed (including hiding some of the more spam-like posters) — I've come to the conclusion that at some level people would rather complain than take the time to figure it out.

  18. Hah! I guess the shifting interfaces haven't bothered me that much, because after the initial "huh?", i've thought that each change has actually been an improvement.

  19. FS — it's interesting, because after the initial annoyance at a format change, I've actually found most of the fb changes to be good ones — the thing is they're integrating a LOT more content than ever before, which means that it takes more pro-activity of the user to tailor it the way they'd like.

  20. handtalker — i know — I like facebook and have always been conscious about what I post there and what I don't. There's a weird sense of entitlement by the people that complain — as if they have a right to some free internet social engine.

  21. Mark — but the difference is between fb and the cable/power utilities is that you PAY the cable and power companies for their service and so there is a professional expectation for their "product" — fb is FREE!!

  22. Budd — I think you're dead-on about the differences between FB and Buzz — and MK mentions this above — that FB is the site that people spend time on. Buzz is the thing that notifies you of other content, but FB integrates it together. I keep my Buzz on because its easy and unobtrusive, but I really don't really get much content that's not already in Google Reader.

  23. Cori — I agree — I don't really have a problem with Facebook either. I have actually found that after the initial annoyance that I've thought the changes have been pretty good, especially considering the greater amount of content they're handling.

  24. I sure would have read the service agreement were I to use my real information. I find the general rules, generally creepy. I mean, it's one thing for them to keep my info – but aren't they allowed to take users who are kids?
    What's the age limit? A 13 year old is not going to read that agreement (as an example), plus which I assume it's quite easy to lie about one's age. What if a 10 year old signs up and now Facebook is tracking them, for advertisement mostly, but still. Disturbing.

  25. The wall frustrates me now. They do not seem to list very many people. And they will post conversations between two of my friends. I do not want to see that. It seems rather nosy to read what two people are writing to each other. I liked it better when I got a wide variety of updates. And I have gone to the bottom and tried to list people that I do want to hear more about and people that I do not care to hear about but I still find it to be less fulfilling than it used to be. I do not know why. There seem to be a lot of bugs right now with the applications. Not sure what is up with that either. I like facebook but mainly just to keep up with folks that I care about.

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