Opinion/Analysis: Facebook Platform Fails to Affect Users

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This Week on Rev2 (TWOR) - Ending 26th May, 2006

Facebook’s announcement last week of the Facebook Platform created major news in the web world, but what about the users? Call it looking in the wrong place, but seemed like there was little or no response conceived from Facebook’s user base — one that is usually quick to catch on to things and respond in a ‘rebellious’ manner.

Facebook's sole description of changes, visible on the applications page itself.

Facebook’s Sole Notification of Changes, Visible On the Applications Page Itself

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that the Applications section of Facebook would be online on Saturday, which did happen. But why didn’t he inform users in a more noticeable way? Facebook is so easy to use that it’s full of those without the technical know-how or initiative to find out about Facebook’s latest project. Sure, the enlightened readers of Rev2 knew about the Facebook Platform the moment it was launched. Yet a couple days later, the over 20 million Facebook users have no idea that Facebook is morphing into more than a traditional social network.

As far as social networks are concerned, there is no announcement bigger than the one Zuckerberg made yesterday in front of dozens of bloggers and reporters at the Facebook f8 summit. MySpace should be afraid. The internet user now has to go no further than Facebook to discover dozens of new web services. Their page views should see a rapid increase.

Facebook’s users, however, are the ones that will eventually be responsible for this change. Isn’t it a bit odd that Facebook has yet to notify them? The application platform has officially launched and I’ve yet to see anything on my News Feed. Last night, I spoke to several friends about the impact of the change on Facebook. None knew of Facebook’s impending transformation. The new features that Facebook adds will soon become integral to their internet experience. Today, upon noticing the changes in my profile due to the integration of Facebook Applications, a friend asked me what was wrong with my profile. Clearly, Facebook’s lacking in the communication area in this particular instance.

My Mini-Feed Post-Installation of Facebook Applications

My News Feed Following the Installation of Facebook Applications

Luckily, I don’t think it’ll be long until Facebook users adapt to the change. The sheer volume of involved parties means that the usage of the Platform should spread virally. Currently, Facebook has upwards of 20 million users. At the moment, the most popular Application, iLike, has only 5,526 users. Only several of the applications have over 1,000 users. So far, it also appears that Facebook’s encountering some technical trouble with their applications, as several reviews list applications as non-functioning.

Facebook's Top 3 Applications

Facebook’s Top Three Applications as of Saturday 4PM EST

As time goes on, hopefully Facebook will try to impress upon its users the importance of their new Platform expansion. Their efforts so far seem weak, but the team may just be attempting to iron out kinks with a soft launch before fully bringing the Platform online. I won’t doubt that Facebook will figure it out, however, because in the past, and now, they have made tremendous business decisions and have created a terrific social utility.

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