If you were online this week, you most likely heard that Facebook was holding an event in their headquarters to make some big announcement. After the resulting rumors by every leading online publication, Facebook announced three new features yesterday. New groups, the ability to download your Facebook data, and a Facebook app dashboard.
As far as I can tell, the only one of those three features that is live on my account is the group feature and of course, I had to try it out. Boy, was that a mistake. I actually lost at least one Facebook friend as a result of this (although I do still think it was an overreaction on their part) and had to partake in a half an hour debate/yelling match on Twitter with some of the people I thought would want to be part of my Twitter Folk group on Facebook.
I have no doubt in my head that Facebook will receive endless lawsuits as a result of this new feature and that my below complaints will be fixed within the week, month maximum. The following are some of the reasons the new Group feature on Facebook is a horrible implementation of a good idea:
- Add anyone: What is with the opt out as opposed to opting in on Facebook? I now understand why this would annoy someone. If I want to be part of a group, I will join the group, but with these new groups, any person can add any other person to a group without their permission. That would only be slightly annoying if groups did not have notifications on by default but that is not the case. More on that later.
- Cannot choose from friends: If Facebook wants to give me the freedom to add whoever I want to a group, then at least make it easy for me to do. Let me see a list of my friends and allow me to add as many as I want at once. Instead, to add someone to a group, you begin typing their name and manually add them one by one.
- Notifications on by default: This is by far the most annoying thing I have ever experienced (only slight exaggeration). When you are forced into becoming a member of a group, your notifications are enabled, which means when someone joins the group, someone posts something on the group’s wall, or does any other of the countless things a person can do in a group, you get a Facebook notification AND an email. Are you kidding me, Facebook? Every person I added to my group came back to their computer and found an inbox overflowing with notifications for something they knew nothing about. How does Zuckerberg get away with this stuff someone tell me please?
- Errors: Groups present some serious competition for the buggiest products I have ever used. That includes Google WAVE (R.I.P), iTunes, and Skype. I am getting errors more often than not.
- Privacy, seeing others’ profiles: So, here is something I found to be the biggest breach of privacy in the new groups. When I am added to the group, other members can see my profile despite the fact that I am not their Facebook friend. How does Facebook justify THAT? Now, I am not sure to what extent my personal information is displayed, but based on the backlash I got on Twitter, it is way too much.
- Messy Walls: Again, if you are going to make a bad feature, that is one thing, but at least the feature should work properly. The walls of these new Facebook groups are a total mess… It is absolutely impossible to read and understand the threads of conversations taking place there. Add document collaboration to that, which is in theory a great addition, and you got yourself a huge headache, which is what I have right now.
- Noise in Group Chat: Wow, this is going to drive me nuts. My little Facebook Chat box does not stop blinking. Why does someone in a group I was signed up for involuntarily think I want to chat with them and 75 other people? Someone please tell me that. The group chat feature is completely out of control and unmanageable. Yes, it might work in a group of five people in a work environment, but beyond that, horrible implementation of a messy idea.
I have a lot more to say about this, but I am going to stop here, then go to my Facebook, remove myself from these groups, apologize to my friends again, and then go back to tweeting. You know? Twitter? The site that does not steal your information and blast it to the world, shove annoying ads down your throat, and change its design every 35 seconds? Yea, that Twitter. You can find me here.