Why I hate FaceBook


I’m sure FaceBook is fine for keeping track of what your friends are up to, but it seriously sucks for serious discussion. Seriously.

  1. I can’t link to posts. Or rather, I can, but anyone who follows the link who isn’t logged in to FaceBook just gets “You must log in to see this page.” Why should someone have to set up a FaceBook account just to read my comment? And then when they log in they probably find they can’t read it anyway unless they are a “friend” of the poster.

  2. I can’t find posts or comments via search engines.

  3. Any work I put in to writing a comment is hidden away in FaceBook’s walled garden, where it just goes to waste. Why bother when only a set of people that the poster has marked as “friends” can read it?

  4. There’s no syntax for putting links (or italic, or any kind of formatting) into comments. If I paste in a URL it might turn into a link, but then again it might not, depending on what characters are in the URL. And there’s no comment preview, so I can’t tell what’s going to happen.

  5. Comment threads go into a stupid narrow column so that I can only see a couple of hundred words at a time.

  6. Threads longer than two or three comments are hidden so that I can’t read them without clicking.

  7. Individual comments longer than some random length, which seems to differ from one FaceBook page to another, get truncated so that I can’t read them without clicking.

  8. This lack of space strongly encourages short comments, which in a serious discussion means you have to compress and abbreviate what you want to say, and that makes it likely that you’ll be misinterpreted, as in the discussion on FaceBook that led to this long blog post on Robin Lustig. Of course I’d like to link to the original FaceBook discussion to back this up, but it would be pointless for me to do that, for reason 1 above.

So, you say, serious discussions aren’t what FaceBook is for? That would be fair enough if you didn’t start them there. I’d like to join in and contribute my opinions, but the whole experience of doing so annoys me so much that my contributions come out really cranky.

Obviously it’s up to you what you write and where you write it, and who you allow to read it and comment, but I’d like to appeal to you to start public discussions somewhere public, and with a better commenting interface, at least if you would like me to comment on it without getting annoyed. (Of course you’re free not to care about these issues, but I think that would be a shame.)

(This is a reply to a comment of Richard Brooksby’s on FaceBook which it would be pointless for me to link to for reason 1 above.)