Improving Facebook


I read part of your manifesto and I know you want to help people from everywhere communicate more effectively. I am with you. However, as a heavy Facebook user for the past several months, it seems to me that the most common patterns of interaction are probably not what you have in mind. People who know each other face to face probably interact as you intend. What I think is missing in your grand vision is a way to generate more meaningful interaction among those who do not already know each other.

I would describe the most common form of interaction within the general Facebook using public as throwing news stories at each other. By this I mean, with those you do not actually know face to face, you do not take the time to write a personal position on something, you pretty much just forward content created by someone else. This is a kind of “what that person says” form of communication. And, Zuck, if I understand the way your algorithms work, this content would be most likely to appear in the feed of those who already agree with the sentiments expressed. These individuals might attach a short comment of agreement or maybe reshare the post. Nothing much gets accomplished, challenged or changed by this pattern. Facebook needs to encourage something deeper.

I understand this to be a problem with both Facebook producers and consumers and in one important way the combination of the two. As long as users Friend those who think like them, I see little hope for your Facebook goals. I wonder if there is a way to suggest friends. The ideal friend would be someone with a different perspective on common issues and who interacts with others when discussing such issues in an evidence-based and nonpersonalized manner. Any algorithm to make such suggestions would need to identify individuals who take the effort to respond to the posts of others AND would have to identify the style of this interaction. The first characteristic should be easy to assess. The second would be more challenging.

I have more concrete suggestions for the problem of the frequent “what that person says” posts. I would like to be able to set filters to block the appearance of these posts in my news feed.

Filter 1 – I would like to be able to eliminate posts that contain content with no personal message. I would suggest the option of ignoring any post not containing more than 140 characters of personal commentary. Suggestions for my attention with less than 140 characters of personal content would be better submitted to Twitter.

Filter 2 – I would like the option to ignore suggested online content that has not been personally annotated. Many folks are probably unfamiliar with the annotation (highlighting, comments) of online content, but I have been exploring this opportunity for a couple of years now as an educational opportunity. Some of the same core ideas apply to the general public – what specifically about this resource do you suggest is important, in what way to do you agree or disagree with this important issue. These embedded comments are more useful than comments attached at the end of suggested resources in that the embedded comments are more specific to isolated statements or claims. Adding such components should be easy for your programmers. For a model, I would suggest the examination of

Keep up the good work. The popularity of your social service comes with great responsibility.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.