Commentary

Facebook jumps the shark

I'm going to say this was this move.

We know Facebook flyers cost money, that's fine. They're non-obtrusive and benefit the users involved. Usually.

Facebook applications are - depending on your view - a) impressing, or b) "MySpacing" (annoying) the hell out of users. As written here before, Applications are another step in opening up Facebook to third-party advertising and profit. Weeks later, applications are cluttering Facebook profile pages like animated gifs and 48 pt Arial type on a crappily put-together Web site.

But sponsored Facebook polls?

Take that, Gallup.

This isn't enough for the average user to give a thought, but to me it signifies a huge admittance of for-profit efforts at the expense of personal information/opinion. Using News Feed - yes, that controversial, "let's all riot against Facebook on Facebook" tool - users are subjected to polls that match their profile's data.

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Facebook's News Feed is now officially the bathroom stall wall of the Internet.

Pollsters have the option of of selecting a target audience in regard to interest, location, age or sex. You can choose to pay 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents or a dollar for each response, at cut offs of 50, 100, 200 and 500 responses. Questions are limited to five responses. The polls aren't scientific of course, but they likely provide a solid idea of a given demographic's opinion on a subject ... so long as Facebook users don't BS for the sake of screwing with a poll. Users aren't likely to see value in doing that though, thus giving the inexpensive polls some sort of actual worth.Targeting is nice, but users failing to update their location or who falsify profile information are likely to skew results without anyone knowing.

Again, nothing shockingly unexpected here from my angle ... but will average users care about this? What about future "additions?"

Catch an interesting post here from TechCrunch. Some clever testing revealed that the initial poll system didn't approve using "MySpace" in a poll question. According to an update on the site, Facebook officials said they resolved the problem, citing outdated code as the cause of the blocked words.

Hm. That's great that it's fixed, but I'd like to know why in the hell Fbook had any code blocking those words.

1 comment about "Facebook jumps the shark".
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  1. Bennett Zucker from Ziff Davis Inc, June 25, 2007 at 9:18 a.m.

    David, You are in a great position to help Facebook - and many other interactive media businesses - by suggesting alternative approaches to their "for-profit efforts" that won't come "at the expense of personal information/opinion." I know you understand that without revenue Facebook can't continue indefinitely to be a service that you and your friends enjoy, use and depend upon. Can you see a way to balance Facebook's need for "third party advertising and profit" with your needs as a customer?

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