Monday, January 14, 2008

As if I did not get enough spam from Facebook

Previously, I wrote about how I was not too convinced with Facebook "Pages." Well, the annoyance is the spam from their many applications, or rather the banal applications that Facebook has let in when they opened their API to any wahoo who can make a zombie application. Fred Stutzman last week posted a post, "Social Network Clutter," that summarizes a lot of what I have been thinking about lately. He is an expert, so he says it a lot better than I do and explains it well also. He is writing about the Newsfeed feature on Facebook. That is when you log in to your account, you get a little news feed telling you what your friends are up to. That sounds nice, except it has become pretty much a spam feed. For one, every time one of your friends adds one of those application toys, it goes on your feed. By the way, you also get e-mails from Facebook when someone does something with an application to get you to log in. These e-mails in essence boil down to spam in your inbox. The e-mail part you have to log-in to Facebook and actually find the place to turn the e-mails off, which I did after some digging. When it comes to opting out, Facebook does not make things easy.

Second, Facebook has started putting ads of their own to the feed as well, which are mixed in with the rest of the feed, making it difficult to read the feed and find anything you might actually be interested in. Not to mention, like for Stutzman, the ads are often irrelevant and out of context. I can understand some advertising. They have to make a living somehow. I can understand that. But when the ads become excessively intrusive and are not even relevant, they become a nuisance. And a nuisance is something you avoid or eliminate.

These days I don't log in to Facebook a whole lot, if at all. When I do, I take a cursory look, and then leave. It's starting to become mostly a spam box, and I can do without that. Personally, I have found that I can reach some people better through my blogging. I am not expecting a large readership by any stretch of the imagination, but I like the idea that the few people who make their way here come with some interest, that the conversations and any relationships that may form will have more meaning than just "my vampire bit you, go bite someone else" or "go to dental school. Find out how." That's on the personal side.

On the professional side, I wanted to believe in using Facebook when a good number of librarians took the plunge and started experimenting with it for outreach. However, at this point, I am thinking the return on investment is very minimal. Sure, a lot of the students are there, but for one, they are not looking for us there anyways. Who is to say that the library may not be a form of spam nuisance to them? Let's just say I have some serious questions which may or not be the ones that certain enthusiastic people want to hear. If it works for some people, more power to them. I am just saying it is not working for me, and I know I am not the only one. In the end, I think Stutzman puts it well, "If Facebook really is in it for the long haul, the Newsfeed should be a space I enjoy, not one I wince at and try to avoid."

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