fb vs open web

Dave Winer was short and succinct on reasons why he doesn’t link to facebook blog posts, which are mostly to do with the closed garden aspect of fb. If the facebooker has (correctly) tightened up their privacy settings, the post is invisible. There are only limited things users can add to a post: one link, one image or video, that’s it.

John Gruber added his two cents and explained more about the closed garden aspect. fb doesn’t allow its content to be indexed, so posts do not show up on search engines. I’ve seen thoughtful posts by friends on a variety of topics, but the only way to remember is by taking a screenshot, or reposting it myself. If I’ve scrolled past or closed the tab, I can’t google because fb content is only searchable within fb. I hadn’t thought about it, because most of fb content is not worth saving. But what if it were because it’s noteworthy or, at the other extreme, controversial. Not allowing its content to be indexed means fb doesn’t respect the open web. It’s not possible to go back in a few years’ time and find the post on archive.org.

I’ve spent less and less time on fb recently because it’s becoming a frustrating experience. Two reasons: content and functionality. I hide stuff I don’t want to see but they always come back. I’m seriously not interested in those friends I may know. And it’s not smart enough to know the reason I hide all dog posts is because I don’t want to see dogs. Plus there has been a huge increase in American current affairs and political posts. I’m certainly sympathetic to the views expressed by my friends, but to see post after post can get overwhelming. I don’t want my friends to stop posting, as their messages are important, so I’m making the choice for myself on how much I want to be exposed.

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The functionality issue is even more problematic. Even though I have friends lists, the algorithm ignores them and I miss posts. I find myself constantly having to switch to most recent. Worst, they’ve starting lying to me: the dropdown says most recent but it’s actually top posts, the telltale “viewing most recent posts” is missing and this post at the top is one day old.

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Then when I do get most recent posts, I get ads. I have my own filters in addition to a few other tools that are supposed to take care of annoyances and ads. I used to be able to block the entire #rightcol but they’ve circumvented the filter and it messes up the css. Leaving just birthdays and the ticker label is all I can tolerate.

I have to refresh the page half a dozen times to get the filter to work. It’s simply not worth the hassle some days.

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