When Facebook Wears Too Much Makeup

Facebook is notorious for quickly iterating through new versions and testing of new features. From profile summaries to privacy settings to the news feed, the engineers at Facebook are working constantly to be on the cutting edge of whatever new design or feature trend that is coming next.

At some point though, you have to sit back and say, maybe my product should just stick to a niche category. Twitter is a great example of

girl with heavy makeup

Take off the makeup, and go all natural.

this. The defining aspect of Twitter is the mandated 140 character limit. This limit makes its function as a social media platform inherently different than any other platform out there. (Except for heello, but that is a distinction barely worth mentioning.)

This paradigm exists outside of social media. For example, consulting firms almost always specialize in a specific type of consulting because in order to gain significant traction and business in a competitive market, you need to pick a segment to call your own. This isn’t to say that specialization is the only way to success or that becoming too general can lead to failure. In my experience of technology, however, the transition from specific to general almost never goes well.

Facebook has lost its way. Now that they are rolling out features that are almost complete copies of Google+, they are cluttering the very corner of social media space they helped to create. Facebook, instead of maintaining the simple, clean-cut UI and feature set it had in the old days is trying to add subscriptions, a real-time mini news feed, and a stylistic redesign.

If I were Facebook (somehow personified in a single entity), I would be freaked out by Google+, but I don’t think the rational response is to roll out 3 major changes all at once. (And I’m not counting the other recent changes to privacy settings and to Facebook chat.) To craft an analogy: Facebook used to be the girl in high school who was cool and confident without putting on a lot of makeup, but now, she thinks it’s necessary to be cool.

Facebook, take off the heavy eyeliner, mascara, and bright pink lip gloss and remember what made you awesome in that first place: that confident don’t-mess-with-me Zuckerberg style.

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Additional Links
Facebook is about to feature-creep itself into a usage U-turn, an article I found (perhaps somewhat ironically) on Facebook
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How do you feel about Facebook’s changes? Love them? Hate them? Want to ditch Facebook and live in a cave? Let me know in the comments!

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