FACEBOOK: Use is optional…

In response to: “FACEBOOK: I WANT MY FRIENDS BACK.”
http://dangerousminds.net/comments/facebook_i_want_my_friends_back

First as with all posts I should start off right.

Richard Metzger you make me sad that I have to compare your competence with that of a child, if only because I like kids… now that I got that off my chest lets inform the public.

MYTH #1: Facebook is un-friending your friends for you.

How many of you or your friends have:

  • a second Facebook account?
  • an account you forgot about and you don’t use anymore?
  • fake Facebook accounts to spy on loved ones or cheating spouses?
  • fake Facebook accounts because you or your friend is a cheating spouse?
  • a friend that never replies to your post about little Johnny’s first poopie… and how proud you are of him?

Well, when you are the size of Facebook in both distribution content and user-base, you have to flush the proverbial toilet every once in a while. To be frank the shit adds up and you want to give the best experience to the users who are actually using the service, not those that have long forgotten about it. What I’m getting at is non-using users are getting removed, just like my wife’s old profile finally disappeared.

We all know about that magic little annoyance eliminator on Facebook… but for those that don’t there is a button above all posts on the right that allows you to ‘hide from timeline’. I’m guessing that as people ‘hide’ posts they’ve found annoying for whatever reason, should a magic threshold get hit the pusher of information gets ‘unliked’ either invisibly or actually.

Granted this is a completely uninformed educated guess, but it’s how I would run things, and logical so I’ll call it true, and I can’t lie… after all this is being posted on the internet. In this I’m sure from time to time, the system guesses wrong or someone logs back in after a long miss of Facebook and BAM!, they’re your friend again.

Post my next point, I will note how and why this actually both benefits you and makes Facebook as a service a better place.

MYTH #2: Facebook is stealing money from America’s small businesses. Sad Face.

First, I would like to point out that Facebook, the single leading player in the Social Media, is a company. Companies generally have goals, the leading one (in most cases) to make a profit. When companies present an Initial Public Offering (IPO), it is purely to find additional sources of revenue. It costs money to run Facebook. And from the amount of users on the service the daily cost is probably larger than any one of us wee-folk could brandish a guess at.

Second, Facebook being the LARGEST user-base of any single service worldwide, the only thing more likely than someone having a Facebook account is that at some point they will experience Death itself. I would bet every penny I, Bill Gates, and the former Steve Jobs have made, that more people have Facebook accounts than Pay Taxes. If only because every child 13+ and a good sized chunk under 13 (against the terms of use) have a Facebook page. My Grandfather doesn’t have a computer and even he has a Facebook account. My grandfather unlike my niece does pay taxes however. My point, our kids may some day say, “the only thing in life that is certain is Death, Facebook and Taxes.”

As a prelude to my summary, I would like to note for those that don’t understand how Facebook works from a technical level. There are some very important concepts utilized within the constructs of the ‘social network’ that allows the dissemination of information to all of us wonderful internet information consumers.

Facebook, a Social Odyssey

As we’ve discussed, Facebook is massive both in content creation and distribution as well as user-base. This is a very important piece of information in the producer-consumer relationship and how Facebook as a company ‘exploits’ that. I say exploits because in actuality there is a fine line between exploiting something for gain and providing a solution to a problem that people choose to pay for.

Facebook was and is the best scam ever, and is now the lifeblood of anyone who wants to keep in contact entities that interest them. Zuckerberg’s observation and obsession with the inherent need for humanity to want to feel special allowed him to create a service that captured the attention of every college student, high school student, person, and eventually business on the planet. (Watch The Social Network for further examination of this point)

The Bits, Bandwidth, and Bottleneck of the Dollar

Yup. The Internets, as my great friend Brock Lesner calls it, costs money.

See, Facebook is built on this bit of genius: non-synchronous databases. The classic method of storage for web services utilized databases that had to stay in sync with each other. Tables which contained discrete pieces of information were related to other tables which had discrete pieces of information in them.

So for instance I have people in my address book, and each person may have one address, so that address would be included in the people table. However each person may have multiple phone numbers, and hence there would be a separate table in which each [phone number record] would contain a pointer to the [people record] it was associated with. So now, when I perform a search across that database by phone number, the database can quickly tell me who the person is.

It gets further complicated  when you start dealing with financial transactions as there is a period of time when the record must be open and locked so no one else can update it and so the database stayed in Sync. The constructs were built around these principals and for a long time no one had need to change the paradigm.

So, as Facebook grew rapidly, they found two flaws with this concept. First, this concept provided functionality they didn’t particularly need — transactions. Second it scales horribly at least in Facebook terms. Specifically, with this type of database, replication can be difficult as if any record is locked due to it being in process (currently locked for update, read, or whatnot) it prevented information from being read or written to from other systems without complexities I don’t have time or care to discuss here.

Non-Synchronous databases more of a never in sync database. The point being that I don’t particularly care when I get the post from my friend as long as it shows up on my feeds. This allowed Facebook as an application to trade better application performance for a longer delay in content delivery. When I submit a post, it is posted to the server servicing my application which posts the information and then eventually trickles out to all of the distributed servers that Facebook has. There is a delay between when I post it on ServerA in Fresno, CA and when Kim Kardashian sees it on her Facebook from ServerZ in Manhattan, NY. This delay increases with system use as the distribution of content is second to the delivery of already in-sync content Kim is seeing when she clicks on her Feed to see whats going on amongst her very suave friends.

I don’t know if anyone remembers when Facebook first started up, but it was slow… Dog Slow. Granted there was significantly less in-use bandwidth on the internets back then as well, but for Christ Sake its a hundred times better now. And I can’t tell you how long its been since I’ve seen a Facebook outage. This is pretty impressive when you look at the scale of content moving around on Facebook daily.

So here is the problem, at some point the delay you are trading in app performance shows up. Now Kim posts a feed on her page, and it shows up date and time-stamped from today but isn’t visible on my page until tomorrow. That’s a big problem. Why you say? Because I liked, like 100 companies that all send me a bunch of junk spam that I signed up for and squeeze Kim’s comment down beyond what I consume in content a day. Moreover the last four comments Ms. Kardashian posted I felt were stupid so I hid them. This resulted in Kim’s post turning to a blip on the radar and I didn’t get notified she even posted.

In reality, that delay could be decreased by Facebook purchasing additional bandwidth, internet caching, Riverbed Steelheads or whatever great tech is available to help. But this costs money. And so they did as any intellectual would and handed that off to their primary customers, the companies pushing content for profit.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility… to the Stockholders.

Lets get back to this story about Mr. Zuckerberg and his evil Capitalistic cohorts.

So now the populous is captured, Mark has a billion and one friends and is in charge of possibly the single largest directed marketing company in the world and all he has to do is figure out how to capitalize on his investment. Until recently, this has not seemed to be a very well thought out process. Even as the moron author who’s stupidity encouraged me to write this notes:

Facebook started turning the traffic spigot down in Spring of this year—wouldn’t you know it—right around the time of their badly managed IPO.

To his “I want my internets” for free credit, he’s right. Facebook started to suck months before the IPO. I however don’t think they necissarily turned down the spigot. I believe they were running thin, hence the IPO, and hence the poor performance post the IPO of FB stock. Basically, their revenues couldn’t match their scalability needs.

Facebook was not performing to their capability by any means. They had this behemoth of a company with enough Intellectual Property (user-base and correlated heuristic/statistical information) from a Marketing Standpoint to make Bill Gates drool and they had no clue how to capitalize on it. I’m surprised someone with a little better marketing aficionado than Mr. Zuckerberg didn’t just buy them out or jump on the good ‘ole hostile takeover during the iPO.

However from a business-use perspective it’s a goldmine. For the first time, Companies taking a product to market can advertise strait to their customers. My experience in speaking with those that advertise and sponsor posts on Facebook is I can get a customer out of every 20 clicks instead of a customer out of every 100 clicks with Google. Not to say Google advertising doesn’t pay, because it does. But Facebook can be far more targeted. They know what you like. They know what you want. You tell them and all is copacetic.

The funny part, the people bitching are the ones that are benefiting the most. Why would I as a company complain about marketing directly to my audience with little or no effort on my part other than writing the post? Now I don’t have to hire a Marketing Firm just to get the message out. I hire a few bloggers and voila!

The reality is no company can find a more direct approach and you Mr. Richard Metzger are an idiot.

Those who use Facebook in their pursuit of capital gain should be expected to maybe kick some of that capitalism upstairs to the wonderful provider allowing them direct access to a very select online consumer demographic matching their product.

And if you Richard are not happy with the terms, suck it. This world ain’t free. Even the air you breath costs money to keep clean. After all you don’t have to Play the Game, you just have to pay to Play the Game.

And as an information consumer if this really bothers you just don’t sign into Facebook. They’ll deactivate your account eventually and there will be more space for me. 🙂

 

Some figures to note, as to why it would be stupid to snub your nose at Facebook if you are a profit seeking business.

  • Between June and October of 2012, 45M people joined Facebook.
  • As of November, 1B users are active on a monthly basis.
  • Between 2009 and June of 2012, 1.13 Trillion Likes (endorsements) have been clicked.
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