Facebook has the tendency to devour all of your free time. I have heard story after story of people “wasting hours” on Facebook and admittedly I can easily see how that can happen. Connecting to people on Facebook comes with the implicit agreement that we will read every update and share from that individual. This results in an unmanageable stream of content and Facebook has attempted to answer with the ability to filter or hide content. I’m sure many us appreciate the ability to hide content, but that begs analysis of the content strategy and experience. As soon as controls for the user is introduced we are burdening the individual with having to manage someone else’s content. Why not make the person sending the content manage their own content with indicators of how much information is already being sent to their friends. This hopefully will give someone pause to think about what they are sharing. The fact that content control is a topic for Facebook means that it should be eligible to be re-thought. It’s a perfect opportunity to ask Facebook members what they want or expect out of the content on Facebook. Then re-architect to meet those expectations and solve the pain uncovered from human-centered research.
When speaking to my business minded friends they might characterize Facebook as being too successful and that’s never a problem. Thinking about Facebook’s sustained success starts to uncover problems exemplified by a prevalent behavior of people reading content, but not being active contributors. That simple behavior change now starts to effect Facebook’s sustainability as a community driven engine. However, is the social aspect of Facebook its future? Is Facebook evolving into a banner filled portal for advertising? I think we have seen indicators of both, but without Facebook making an active choice the current user experience provided by Facebook will make the choice for them. Staying in control of business decisions means proactively conducting human-centered research to understand how business decisions are affecting the people you serve and uncovering what business decisions are being made for you by the people you want to serve.