Facebook is the social network. And love it or loathe it, if you want to connect to friends, family, colleagues or clients, to share everything from videos and photos to just fanciful thoughts and precious ideas, Facebook is the place to be. However, if you want to use Facebook seriously, there are some seriously big features missing from Facebook…
I have very mixed feelings when it comes to using Facebook, mostly because there are some very obvious and notable absentee features that make Facebook, shall we say, problematic to use in the way I’d prefer.
All work and play — different sets for different people
As an example, I have an eclectic mix of people as friends on Facebook — including family, friends, colleagues and clients. I’m sure there are others out there just like me, but the problem is, I’m absolutely sure some of my clients don’t want to see photos of me and the lads on a night out, and similarly, the guys don’t want to see the articles I’m sharing with clients regarding work-related topics.
Facebook needs a way to group people into distinct sets (not Groups, because that’s something else entirely) whereby I can control what each set of people see. So friends, family and clients are in their own sets, each oblivious to what’s going on in those other sets.
In this scenario, when I’m tagged in a photo or a video by a mate of mine from a specific set, that photo and video will not appear to family or clients. And, articles I write or find and then post to my profile regarding work, technology, science, social media et cetera, don’t appear in the sets for family and friends.
Tagging shared items
By far the biggest problem with Facebook is information overload. The problem wouldn’t be as bad if all of what appears on my home page was relevant, but the vast majority isn’t. No offense guys, but there’s a lot of stuff you like that I just don’t!
An exceptionally easy way to sort information is to use tags. So when we add a photo, a video or a link, we also get the option to add some tags. Once added, I can then filter information in or out, based on the tags I feel are important to me.
In one fell swoop, the amount of information is vastly reduced. I’m sure we could allow some kind of minimal item that says something like: “John Smith posted 11 items today”, for those people whose tags we don’t subscribe to, to ensure they don’t get forgotten.
A group chat option
I like Facebook’s chat, which is a simple alternative to MSN Messenger or Skype. However, now that we can share the things we find on Facebook, and since Facebook’s Connect service is really beginning to take a hold, we need group chat on Facebook, so we can chat with more than one person at a time:
“Facebook now have this option that embeds their share and comment options at the top of web pages and blog articles linked to from Facebook. What if you could do that, but include their chat tool, too?
Better yet, what if their chat tool linked to their Connect service, letting you chat with anyone who was on the same web page or blog article you were?”
Step out of the lime light — de-tagging photos and videos
Just because I’m in a photo or a video, doesn’t mean to say I want others that weren’t there to see them. I want an option to de-tag myself and stay de-tagged.
This goes right back to the family-friend-client thing; there are some photos and videos that are inappropriate for some people to see. I see this as an invasion of my privacy and I want the option to not be included.
Every time someone tags us in a photo or a video, we see this appear in the Notifications button on the bottom right of the Facebook tool bar. All that’s needed is an option that says something along the lines of: “Do you wish to be tagged?”
I personally find it extremely odd that we are forced into being tagged and not given a choice to opt out.
Update: as highlighted by Carla in the comments, the option to remove a tag of yourself in photos and videos does exist. However, the option is after the fact, that is to say, you’ve already been tagged at this point, regardless of you wanting to be tagged or not. Just to reiterate my earlier point, the process is wrong and should be: 1. a person tags you, which does not appear until, 2. you authorize the tag manually.
Sensible URLs for our profiles, Pages and Groups
We’re now seeing people and businesses using Facebook for serious purposes. The one thing that undermines our profiles, Pages and Groups is the computerized URLs we see for those items.
I have a Page for the Blah, Blah! Technology blog, whose URL sort of looks sensible enough, until you see the almost random stream of numbers towards the end.
We need sensible URLs, that are:
- easy for people to remember, write down or tell to someone else, and;
- are also good for the search engines (SEO) so people can find us on the web, too.
Of course, as anyone who’s performed a search on Facebook will attest, there are often many, many people with the same names. But I’m sure some geographic specificity would help sort such things out.
Let’s face it, the guys behind Facebook aren’t exactly stupid, so I have every confidence they could figure something out.
Facebook is big and it’s getting bigger all of the time. What we’re seeing are the signs of growth and the pain that comes with such rapid growth.
While it’s not possible to please all of the people all of the time, there are some prerequisites that would certainly go a long way, and these five are amongst those very things…