back to article Facebook loses a few bitches

Facebook has suffered its first drop in monthly users, according to numbers from web analytics outfit Nielsen Online. Five per cent fewer people in the UK visited the site in January compared to the previous month. A total of 400,000 seem to have become bored with the social network and didn't bother to return. A year earlier …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Oh dear

    I left facebook because of their privacy policy. It's very far reaching and they can gather information about you from sources other than their website, which makes me paranoid.

    I'll get my tin foil hat on.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Emperor has no clothes !!!!

    Clients eh?

    They dot com and they dot go......

  3. Pete Slater
    IT Angle

    About time

    Never used the site, just seemed like a complete waste of time for me. I almost signed up once, but realised that social networks are just too much hard work for me. When I am not coding, I like to spend my time away from the machine. Using it as a gateway to contact my friends is not my thing. I have an email client and a mobile phone for that.

    And having been in the software industry for a good many years now and survived one large bubble bursting, I can't wait to see this new emporer fall from grace.

    It is anythibg but revolutionary and for it to continue this pretence is laughable.

  4. eddiewrenn
    Dead Vulture

    RIP

    It killed itself by the ridiculous number of invites/application - I logged back in after a week away and had 40 invites to poke/join groups/become a vampire/ blah blah. It's very useful for staying in touch with odd people, and a fun gimmic for close friends, but it lives or dies by it's userbase, and as soon as the next Facebook comes along, it's dead in the water.

    As if people couldn't see this two years ago though. The founders were right to milk it's evaluation while they could, and they're welcome to die laughing with millions in the bank, but some people at Microsoft must have some egg on their faces by now.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Finally

    People are starting to wake up and smell the privacy problems. This can only be a good thing, 400,000 people can't be wrong. Ok enough, rant over.......

  6. Chris Morrison
    Happy

    Dot Com Burst 2.0

    Can we coin a new el reg term.

    Think we are about to enter

    Dot Com Burst 2.0

    Can someone please blog about it!

  7. Chris Ellis
    IT Angle

    Painful

    I had resisted joining facebook until last night, mainly on privacy grounds. I must admit that after using it for about 2 hours, it is painful to say the least.

    The website is poorly designed a slugish at the best of times. It is difficult to use, certainly to find people. However best of all, trying to hide ur personal info, is so complicated and irritating. I found the best solution was not to add any info.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Losing face

    Got an e-mail from a friend inviting me to be one of his 'friends' on Facebook -- 'Sorry, I don't do Facebook'.

    'All you have to do is join, then you can join the list of my friends and vote on something that's a joke'

    'It's not that I don't want to be one of your friends it's just that I don't see the point of signing up to Facebook'

    'But it's so easy'

    Aaaarrgh! I realise now that 'social networking' is no different from little huddles of kids dissing each other in the playground. That or playing Top Trumps - and not the card version, either.

    My ball, I'm getting me coat as well

  9. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Facebook

    1) Facebook

    2) ????

    3) Profit

  10. Mike Ward
    Thumb Down

    Bloatware attacks!!!

    I think it's gone downhill, I tried Myspace for a short period and absolutely hated the service because of the spam and crap people had on their profiles, then saw Facebook when it was in it infancy, it was great, a good way to keep in touch with friends and there was no clutter on profiles.

    Now when I log on I too get a handful of requests to install applications that are completely pointless and no doubt harvest information for the developers!

  11. alphaxion

    I wonder

    how much of the dip is due to IT departments finally coming down on access after managers suddenly notice that no-one is doing any work and spending ages on the damn site and no longer fight the IT department, who have been wanting to ban it since day one!

  12. Solomon Grundy

    Very Simple Really

    All the "social networking" sites were fun and novel at first, but it doesn't take people very long to get bored with the whole thing. I mean the sites don't really do much of anything, and once you've established contact with your long lost friend, lover, cell mate, there's no point in using the sites to stay in contact.

    As far as making new "friends" on these sites, who really does that? You may swap a few messages with someone but will you ever really get to know them, will you ever meet them in person, will you care when they stop using the site? The answer is probably a resounding no!

    Want to meet new people? Why not try the tried-and-true ways of going to the pub, or sporting events, take up a hobby, selling drugs, or, god-forbid, talking to your co-workers.

    Death to social networking - it's a silly idea.

  13. Carl Fletcher

    Re: About time

    Got to love the number of people that say that:

    "Never used the site, just seemed like a complete waste of time for me"

    Um... then you have no right to hold an opinion? It's not a perfect site, but it's bloody useful for some things. It's going to transition from something that's overhyped into just another tool that most people use. No big deal.

  14. cor
    Thumb Up

    Not meaning to be patronising, but...

    "Five per cent fewer" :

    Wow Chris, my English teacher would be so proud of you! Kudos.

    Meanwhile I refuse to join any of these soc. net. sites.

    I am a member of an online network that is strictly for (new) business contacts, and does not pretend otherwise. Plus we can exchange professional answers to members' (IT) questions., etc.

    Interestingly, the ads there are minimal.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    @Carl

    Hey man, this is the Reg: Everyone has a right to an unfounded opinion based upon hearsay and conjecture, regardless of how pointless or stupid it may be!

  16. Lord Baphomet
    Flame

    Carl Fletcher, you are Wrong

    CF: "It's going to transition from something that's overhyped into just another tool that most people use"

    No, it's not. It's going to fail, and be shut-down, because it's crap, I haven't signed up, because it seems like a total waste of time to me, but that doesn't mean that I don't have an opinion, in fact, I do have one, and I've just stated it. People don't have to sign up for something to know what it's like -- I don't have to sign up for the Nazi party to know that it's rather dull (to say the least).

    I've got friends who use this service, and they've shown me their profiles, and the profiles of other people they work with. I didn't have to sign up to see this. And, now that I have seen it, I know for a fact that it's a very poor site, obviously set up by 'entrepreneurs' with their usual lack of fore-site, due diligence, and quality.

    The only people regularly using this stuff are teenagers -- whey they're not out recording fights on their mobile handsets.

    Where's my violin?

  17. Nomen Publicus
    Paris Hilton

    Just like theme pubs

    All the sites like Facebook are quite similar to theme pubs. For a while they are very popular, but one day, very suddenly, they become unfashionable and everybody moves to a different theme pub.

    You don't hear much buzz about My Space any more.

  18. Geoff Mackenzie
    Joke

    @eddiewren

    "Useful for keeping in touch with odd people."

    Odd people always seem to manage to keep in touch with me fine, no matter how hard I try to shake them. :)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    leaving the sinking ship

    i've just deleted my facebook and myspazz accounts today. it's been months since i logged into either for more than a couple of minutes. initially, i thought the ability to reconnect with old friends was quite interesting but as someone above said, once you've re-found each other you take it onto other channels such as phone or email.

    i'm also totally sick of having to wade through a zillion completely and utterly moronic messages every time i login to facebook, telling me that one or other of my [normally intelligent friends] has invited me to give them a virtual hug, buy them a virtual pint, play virtual zombies with them, or partake in some f**king survey about my favourite type of frying pan or join some dickwad group called 'we think ironing on a wednesday is fun!'

    what a load of crap it all is. thank god i only dabbled in the messaging side of it, never got involved in this other dross and am now pulling the plug!

    -----

    paris, coz she probably thinks myspazz and facebook are 'like really y'know freakin' awesome!'

  20. Glenn

    re: I wonder

    We've had it locked down since it became popular. A few people were pissed off, and one lady actually drove 30mins to where she lived because someone sent her a message and she had to read it. How sad is that?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: leaving the sinking ship

    Yeah, but... that just shows that Facebook and the like are only as good as your friends/acquaintances. If you've got the kind of assclowns for friends who already forward you every hoax health scare/petition request/picture of a cat with ten eyes that comes through their inbox, they're going to make your life intolerable with silly Facebook app requests.

    Personally I think this makes Facebook, if nothing else, an ideal filter to help you decide whose calls to stop returning, IN REAL LIFE.

    I don't have any blocks on my Facebook but I only rarely get the daft requests, apparently because my friends are sensible grown-ups.

  22. Stephen
    Coat

    I'll get my coat.

    Well I can honestly say that when having a profile on those sites starts effecting your real life prospects (such as recruiters checking your on-line profile when you apply for a job, etc) Friends Reunited had similar horror stories about marriage breakups, employers seeing what someone had written and sacking them over it, etc. Facebook is no different in this regard.

    People are now either getting clued up to the risks or just plain getting bored with social networking. Web 2.0 bubble has burst, and the sweetest part of this now is that Microsoft is going to lose money over it as the realisation creeps in that Facebook was vastly overvalued.

    Popcorn anyone?

  23. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Simple Explanation

    They haven't left Facebook. They all were turned into vampires and zombies and are off seeking human flesh instead of updating their profiles.

  24. Alze
    Pirate

    At last !

    I signed up for facebook to meet friends from school.

    Despite leaving school over 19 years ago, some of them still seemed act exactly the same.

    I left facebook - what a waste of time.

    Back to irc and newsgroups for like-minded and intelligent discussion.

  25. Matt Thornton
    Boffin

    To all the haters...

    ... you've clearly never played Scrabulous. It's about the only reason I login to FB anymore.

    Chilly here, so I'll take coat, hat, gloves & thermal undies, please.

  26. Dave
    Coat

    ...they've only got the same problem as northern rock

    why do venture capitalists keep giving money to people with crap business ideas?

    i agree completely with the people who says facebook's useless; their business plan is to get you in touch with people who you've already met, but didn't like enough to keep in contact with.

    what makes mark z(s)uckerberg think that introducing two people again is a good idea?

    hence the link with northern rock.... which idiot thought of the business plan 'let's buy sub-prime debt'. come on, the clue's in the title.

    and now we have to deal with the government bailing out a company because their business isn't viable (why?!!), and our girlfriends bookmarking Facebook on Firefox 3 Beta 3.

    come on love, the latest release candidate's only been out a few days and there's already a facebook button on my screen!

    mine's the smoking jacket lined with tin foil.

  27. dervheid
    Gates Horns

    Back to...

    the trainspotting for them then?

    Social Networking? It's called THE PUB! (or nightclub / winebar / local taxi rank, whatever your preference!!)

    Billy?

    as in NO (real/actual) MATES.

  28. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Back to...

    So, y'know, just out of interest, does anyone have any new insight into this whole crazy Facebook thing? Or are we just going to remind each other, lest we forget, that it is for losers with no real friends and it's all rubbish and made of poo and was always going to be an epic fail and so there?

    I mean, genuinely, I'd like to know.

  29. Andrew Moore
    Coat

    LinkedIn your next...

    Facebook gets its coat...

  30. Antti
    Stop

    Privacy issues?

    Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I cannot think of a single communication technology that failed due to privacy concerns.

    Sure, a small number of people will be concerned about the privacy issues on Facebook, but I would argue - as have some others here - that the biggest reason behind the fall in users... err, bitches... is that once you've established contact with your friends, there really isn't much useful to do on the site.

    There is obviously some form of need for social networking, but Facebook doesn't seem to be the final answer. Not even close.

  31. Nexox Enigma

    Random Comments

    Someone mentioned something along the lines of "Facebook is as good as your friends are" I haven't had my coffee yet so I can't be bothered to see who said that or actually quote them.

    One of the main problems (That I saw when I used FB ~2 years ago) is that loads of people out there just want to boost their all important friend count, with no regard to who is actually their friend. You end up with invitations from any number of completely random people and there is (was?) no button to ignore all invites or somesuch. I imagine that would be counter to the whole 'experience.'

    Some how lots of people got it into their heads that FB is a legitimate communication vector, like the phone or email. It isn't. On that front it doesn't provide anything that emails, calls, texts, etc lack, but people insist on it. Even though they've got your damned email address on the page. I've had a number of people actually get irritated that I didn't see their facebook messages, which indicates that they expect for them to get read frequently. Pretty much insane there.

    FB always seemed better than myspace, since it is (was?) at least decently coded with proper CSS and whatnot instead of a mess of evil javascript, but it just didn't last. I'd like to say that FB jumped the shark when they did that apps deal, which I've never used, but it seems like a final attempt to convince people that they need to keep coming back. Then I think back to when they opened it past college campuses, which just made the entire thing seem rather irrelevant. I started getting messages from my friends' mothers and random 12 year olds. But I think that the first time it really started to surpass its usefulness was when they allowed you to upload photos.

    Before the photos it was really just a glorified directory service, which arguably filled some useful void in information out there. I know multiple people ~3 years ago that managed to contact a classmate they had never met in order to obtain lost class documents at the last minute, and they wouldn't have been able to do that without FB. I even had someone invite me to be friends because we apparently had similar taste in movies. But now its all about sitting for hours on end filling up on the informational equivalent of diet soda (or news radio, not sure which imagery works best there) instead of doing productive things.

    Of potential ways to waste time, FB is so far down on the list. What happened to good old video games? If you want to avoid studying that badly, grab that Quake 2 CD and waste some time like they did in 1998. Or you could watch TV - it may not tell you the minute a friend of yours breaks up with their significant other, but people have been using it to waste time and fry brain cells for ages.

    I can't wait to see it disappear into a cloud of dust, but at the same time I don't really want to even imagine what will come along to replace it. Maybe just a rapidly flashing series of lights and breasts. That's probably just about all that could drag the attention of the average FB user away from 4000 pictures of their friends drinking and... whatever else people do in facebook pictures.

  32. Tom

    @ A.C

    1) Facebook

    2)Underpants

    3)Profit

    That help? :)

  33. John A Blackley

    Still to come

    Amid all the self-congratulation and sneering, let's remember this: Facebook, MySpace, et al are the first (popular) generation of these applications and, despite the reduction in numbers, still have an avid user base.

    Like all first-generation things, someone somewhere (I am certain) is looking at what they do and deciding what the second generation will look like. Too fuzzy? The next gen. will have more sharply focused uses. Too annoying? The next gen. will be less-so - and so on.

    Some big investors may lose their pocket money on this generation (or, more accurately, the pocket money of those who actually put up moolah - not necessarily the 'names' who bought the products) but you can be sure that a 'new and improved' Facebook or MySpace-type app. isn't too far around the corner.

  34. Phill
    Happy

    Hello I am here!

    I think I'm one of those 400,000 people

    -- It used to be a vibrant way to communicate with friends and share pictures. Now it's just pages of shit like ninja's vs. wankers or something.

  35. DR
    Happy

    well I use it...

    I don't like the application requests, and I'm well aware that each time I add one I'm 'giving away' my marketing details to developers, else they wouldn't have gone through the trouble of creating them...

    and virtual hugs/flowers/presents etc are all very well, but also a bit... well shit...

    so why do I use it?

    I use it to keep in contact with friends, it's cheaper than a text message (free) and less formal than an email.

    when was the last time I emailed a friend? years ago, when was the last time I sent then a quick essage to say hello how are you on facebook, earlier today.

    so far as not contacting people,

    yes, I agree, I've got 'friends' on there that I met in school that I didn't talk to in school and don't talk to now.

    conversly, it's a nice thing to be put back in contact with friends who I still talk to in person as well as on facebook.

    also it provides a nice platform for people to update people on what's happening, (such as event invites to friends birthday parties), -like one I'm going to at the weekend.

    it has it's use, those people who left their old schol buddies because they didn't like them won't like it, those people who'd circle of friends extends little further than the walls of their office/house/local pub won't find a use for it,

    but I do find a use for it, keeping contact with some old friends who have moved too far away to see all the time, but who I do still like to talk informally to.

  36. multipharious
    IT Angle

    Collaboration Sandbox @Sarah Bee

    Is everyone aware that this is how the rising crop of teenagers and college students expect to experience the web and work together? The next logical step is in facilitating internal corporate collaboration. In other words, let it cut its teeth and go through a few iterations in the classic buzz lifecycle then weed out the fluff. Someone needs to get a 1.0 out there for internal business users to allow for more dynamic organization based on interests, connections, and skill sets. This naturally leads to organizing more compatible virtual teams and increasing revenue while allowing quicker time to market or better competitive response.

    Facebook to me is stupid, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is some value there or it would not have attracted so much attention. The annoy-a-tron threshold is simply being reached since there are not enough controls...it is not that the fad is ending as being so 2007 it's just that as people point out if one is constantly badgered by unwanted connections and exposed personal information without adequate returns the shine wears off quickly. Some competitor will come along and get it right. Besides people like finding or meeting other people.

    There is your IT angle?

  37. Johnny G

    My problem with Facebook is that

    I, quite simply, cannot be arsed.

  38. bothwell
    Paris Hilton

    Godwin's Law

    @Lord Baphomet

    I know this rule of internet arguing is very common, but surely comparing Facebook to the Nazi party at this juncture just because you think it's boring is slightly hysterical, no?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Yay less of people's info is online!!

    well until the ID Card Database gets Owned or lost on some discs somewhere.

    Never joined, Never cared, looked pretty damn awful to use, good riddens i say!

    no way can that many user's be wrong

    waits for the next crappy site to appear

    how about betterprivacybook.com ;)

    there's one the Gov should read.

  40. Sumesh

    re: Bubble 2.0

    There's already a song about it going round.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dr3qPRAAnOg

    The problem I think is there wasn't a proper recession at the popping of the last bubble. so the fools still have a lot of cash to be separated from.

  41. Paul

    It's a bit like...

    ... MMORPG's really, they release a new one, it gets a few thousand (or tens of thousands) of subscribers who play around with it for a while. A few people get avidly hooked, the rest drift in and out and eventually give up.

    What they got wrong was that they didn't think to charge for their service in the first place!

  42. StopthePropaganda

    The web2.0 king is dead!

    long live the web3.0 king!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It's been all downhill since 1439

    What I worry about most is the impact on kids today of the printing press. Before books our kids would go outside to play and interact with each other. Now my kids just want to stay inside and read. What kind of world will it be when everyone has grown up reading rather than talking to the people around them?

    It's the begining of the end I tell you!!

  44. ratfox Silver badge

    Keeping in touch with old friends

    I did find it somewhat interesting that people I had almost forgot about asked me to be their friends on facebook. I have now the e-mail address of half my junior school class, and that would have been difficult to get otherwise.

    I guess there is also something to the idea of getting people used to organize their life using the computer. After all this time, I still know very few people who actually manage their appointments or organize meetings using outlook or similar.

    Apart from that, I get an invitation a day to compare this or that with whoever. After finding out the first time that you need to bother 20 more people to see the results, these are deleted immediately.

  45. Luke McCarthy

    The Hordes

    They should have kept it university-only. Might not have been as big a money spinner, but at least it would have maintained a higher standard and important niche. But now it's descending into MySpace hell.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    This internet addict

    belongs to about four different forums, all to do with things that interest me.

    As well as being able to share those interests, there is a fair amount of social exchange too, which even extends to meeting real people in the flesh sometimes.

    The Register and the BBC provide news information, and, although I tend to post occasionally here but not get involved in conversations (yesterdays threads are...yesterdays threads) I also enjoy the expression of opinion here at the Reg.

    There are several other sites that I keep up every day, and several blogs that I read occasionally, for fun and for information and, occasionally I get out of the house.

    I've looked at Myspace, and occasionally check on the pages of a couple of friends there, only to discover that, despite being 'media' people they haven't updated their absurdly complex, slow-to-load, multi-media pages since the last time I looked. I don't want or need it. I don;t feel any need for facebook.

    I've heard mention of this web 2.0 from time to time, and, despite a certain technical background, have never really understood what it means (but then, at one time I was a bit of a minor wizard at regular expressions, but never knew what those two words actually meant).

    It looks like Web 2.0 will have gone away by the time I get around to it!

    Another one for the coat, please, although in a tropical climate I have absolutely no need of such a thing

  47. Stewart Stevens
    Alert

    Those figures may be a bit misleading

    Facebook has started emailing you the contents of messages friends write on your wall / send as messages. You don't need to log on in order to read a quick message anymore.

    I think this strategy is likely to improve its longevity.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    "business users ... dynamic organization ... interests, connections, and skill sets".

    You mean like used to happen with Compuserve and CIX?

    Or (in certain circumstances, e.g. inside DIGITAL itself) as used to happen with VAXNotes?

    Or more recently with other toys whose names I foeget (Lotus had one?).

    Virtual teams, it's the next big thing, because the old fogeys that remember it being overhyped the last couple of times round are all past it now and just waiting for what remains of their pension to evaporate, and the young whippersnappers holding the IT purse strings think this stuff is ever so new and shiny and flash.

  49. Alain Moran

    death by notifications

    the thing that prevents me from wanting to use facebook is all the blinking notfifications ... in fact, it's not even that .. its the fact that the page refreshes each time you click ignore, and that accept doesn't open in a new tab .. if it werent for these relatively minor usability fixes then the site might actually be useful.

  50. Not today thank-you
    Boffin

    Combinatorial explosion to imaginary.

    Web 2.0 is ok but I'm just human. There was a reason I didn't want to be on FB and those old ex mates were ex.

    If you already make friends easilly and don't need the boost up faux anonymity gives u then the whole 'folksonomy' thing is just interesting at best.

    The mini app thing of FB was interesting too but wildly too successful and hence annoying with no brakes on it.

    Last.fm ... yep that's good 2.0. I chow on that daily and want its content to have children.

    Noone doubts Wikipedia apart from those so retentive they challenge the imaginary number for it's ability to dissapear through it's own orifice.

    So 3.0 is around the corner ... a symantic dreamboat soup? I want a place where I can walk the moors suck in data and spew out thought with direct brain control of my personal metaspace without a console ... but then I'm a geek.

  51. Daniel B.

    Some insight ... @Sarah Bee

    Actually, I don't think social networking as such will crash and burn... but Facebook will. Until Facebook came along, most social networks were just that: to meet new people, or find long lost friends. They didn't expect to be nothing more than a "virtual pub" of sorts.

    Facebook, however, was the first one in deluding itself it was an actual business. They tried to separate themselves from "social networking"; I remember reading about 6 months ago about the documentation on "the Facebook platform" which specifically tried to make the whole thing sound like the new SAP and "not another MySpace". Actually, the mere fact of calling Facebook a "social networking site" or "like MySpace" was a violation of fair use of "da Facebook platform". This, coupled with that weird "...bitch" attitude by its founder, was just screaming of being a bubble that would burst in the near future. While other sites like hi5, bebo, badoo and Facebox (hey, I thought they were talking about this one instead of Facebook originally!) still have some traffic, they were not trying to turn the thing into a cash-cow; no "application" framework exists in such other alternatives.

    It is greed and pride that ultimately took its toll on Facebook. Fortunately, it will also serve as a warning to others...

  52. fail salon
    Thumb Down

    EPIC FAIL

    this is one FAIL for the ages.

    http://failsalon.com/

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Random Thoughts @ Sarah Bee

    I believe that FaceBook...and MySpace as well...have become too cumbersome for most teenagers and young adults to enjoy. (I work with a small group of amateur theatrical types. Mostly "high-school" and college age folks.) Given the capabilities of some of the newer portable devices...such as the NV model of cellphone by LG...backed by the partly local and partly hosted (social) networking services provided by Verizon...it appears (from my aged perspective) that it has become more of a chore and less of a pleasure for the social butterflies in my troupe to maintain a current FaceBook/MySPace presence.

    For what it's worth, many of these highly social types talk about wanting to see a 4x6 to 4.5x6.5 form-factor device. This is apparently a convenient size to fit within the zip/snap breast pocket of a USA military field jacket, small purse, inner suit coat pocket, ski jacket, etc.

    - The Garret

  54. This post has been deleted by its author

  55. Eddie Johnson
    Boffin

    @John A Blackley

    "Amid all the self-congratulation and sneering, let's remember this: Facebook, MySpace, et al are the first (popular) generation of these applications and, despite the reduction in numbers, still have an avid user base."

    No, AOL and Compuserve were the first generation. You had a user name, a profile, the ability to form groups, chat, etc. And then it got destroyed by hoards of idiots and the commercial spam that followed them. Sound familiar? Sound like eBay? Like MySpace? Like Facebook?

    Back in the early 90's AOL actually was a lot like what Facebook first appeared as. Then the millions of disks mailed out brought millions of idiots and destroyed the community. Commercialization won.

    Once eBay got popular the listings were flooded by a small handful of commercial powersellers who flooded the listings with a bunch of identical items that were not even a good deal just so you couldn't actually find the occasional good deal that showed up. Commercialization won.

    I never saw MySpace before it was covered in fugly porn banner ads but apparently it was once upon a time relatively pollution free.

    Never been to Facebook but from what I've heard its been destroyed by "application" spam.

    The problem is, as you look at the death of these once popular destinations, you'll notice the cycle gets faster and faster. The spammers have gotten much faster at showing up and ruining the party.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Its Inviting itself to Death

    I quite like facebook...there i said it!

    I had a brief flirtation with the silly side for a week and then removed all those apps. I dont add people who i dont actually know from outside facebook so i only have 35 friends but they are ALL actually friends. It has allowed me to speak to old friends who i lost contact with which is good. I actually realised the privacy aspects of it so i firstly didnt enter any useful information or even photos in the first place and then secondly locked down my profile so tight that its all but invisible to people who aren't my friends. Finally i am quite happy to keep using it for what it is, a social networking utlity, the second coming it isnt (Unless you consider as Web 2.0 second coming & going) despite the hype.

    I don't however use Myspazzz or any of the rest though.

    Facebook though seems determined to commit suicide as quickly as possible. There are so many applications inviting that you can have hundreds if you dont check for a week. There is infact a petition of 700,000 people who are demanding and end to the whole app invite spam fiasco. I reckon unless Facebook listens then the end will come sooner than it thought.

    Facebooks business model is advertising, they can serve them up as they wish, probably best using some google contextual tech. That though is a limited revenue stream and Facebook needs to work on reducing their hardware requirements to the point that the adds actually make them a profit. Be nice if they charged apps money as well.

    In summary, it will drag on for years yet but slowly and surely they will realise that its basically just a a whole pile of websites (profiles) to serve adds onto and they better cut costs to reflect this limited revenue stream.

  57. Chris Reynolds
    Thumb Up

    I use it and see a future for it...

    I moved abroad a couple of years back and use Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends abroad.

    I most use it for Scrabulous, Battleships and the photo sharing. I also like the way it formats messages -- long conversations are easier to track than emails.

    I don't install apps that have no value to me. I decline invites from people I meet daily or those I really don't want to get back in touch with. I aim to keep my friends list as small as possible.

    I can't give an expert opinion on how Facebook.com will fare, but I reckon MS will consider licensing it to corporations and large orgs for internal use.

    The ability to create apps would be great for corporations, especially if MS could make it easy to port .NET apps over to FB with minimal change.

    As other posters have said, this is still early days for these apps. I don't think social networking is dead in the water.

  58. Michael O'Connor Clarke

    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

    ...or, if you prefer less French and would rather a little homage to the late Roy Scheider (and the fragrant and lovely Ann Reinking), Everything Old is New Again...

    As others have commented, FB is simply going the way of MySpace before it. And Friendster before that. And Orkut. And Sixdegrees (anyone still remember Sixdegrees?)

    It's all a crock.

    The Top Trumps analogy hold particular appeal for me, as I riffed at tedious length, here: http://snipurl.com/2055t

    And while I'm blatantly link-pimping, I might as well also point out that, yes, it's the goddam privacy policies that really chafe: http://snipurl.com/2055w

    Bleh.

  59. Dave Bell

    Never used Facebook, but what's the point?

    Facebook, from all I here, seems to be one of the variations on a particular idea, which I find being pressed on my by several different outfits now. There is, for instance, a CGI outfit I've done business with; they've jumped on the bandwagon, but the practical advantage (talking to people using the same sortware, and exchanging ideas) is hardly any different to Usenet. Web forums added the ability to handle files and images, but all this "friends" stuff.

    There's a lot of old ideas--think mailing lists--being amalgamated. But I don't see much synergy in the results. And that failure is why so many will flop.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    anonymous coward invites facebook to a virtual-liquidation

    I only use it to keep track of people I want to avoid.

    I still say myspace is great for checking out new bands without a) having to buy their records or b) break any copyright laws. I also use it to promote (albeit in a low key way) my own music. Other than that...its pointless.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @eddiewrenn

    100% agreement.

    It's all a bit boring to be quite frank. I'd much rather drink beer and ogle the local talent...

  62. multipharious

    @AC punch card regaler

    "In my day we had to carry around our programs in shoeboxes!" - AC

    I remember punch cards, cassette tapes, floppies, and had a USB Stick with a whopping 8MB...and while you may think me a young whippersnapper there are a lot of us that know we did not invent fire, and that we build on top of what others have done.

    Yes, dynamic organization and virtual teams. Nothing new. Correct. Have you ever led one that worked? (I have a large vteam 40+currently) Why then do they normally fail? Because they require an immense amount of work to keep everything organized from the leader, and are based on a leader among equals flat hierarchy in a world of competitive egos and pyramid structures. If the overhead of this organizational work could be reduced significantly, more of these informal groups would have a chance of success. Or optionally the control should be distributed and the ego removed.

    So what IS the work? Building a feeling of membership. Email DLs work adequately, individual phone calls, regulary voluntary confcalls do a decent job, and the occasional beer drinking session among members provides enough social glue to last until the next. But then what is the secret sauce that makes virtual teams work with a willingness to collaborate in an altruistic manner? A feeling of connection and responsibility for each other. This is community. All of these things can combine to push it up and over the emergent threshold, but then you have to keep it there. Not easy. Ignore a member and he will float away, but create solid enough links and the whole thing suddenly becomes alive.

    Have you used or studied how any of the new systems work and what the core value is? It allows people to feel connected. I am not talking about SharePoint 2007 or Notes vintage R5. Those are portals. Portals are not networked, they are silos. They are great repositories, but as far as finding other people through metadata correlation...there is no connection whatsoever. A portal does not create a group. The connection aspect is what drives any emergent movement. This is present in everything from the lowliest cell to the most complex social network (and throughout the universe.) It is the reason why high rises are anonymous (like you) whereas a residential area with sidewalks seems to create a feeling of belonging. If the connections are not there, then the action will not have the critical mass.

    To sum it up, if business social networking can begin to provide enhanced virtual connections we will see something very interesting happen. I am open to the medium or interface, but it all comes down to exactly why we have friends in the first place: voluntary interaction.

    respectfully submitted so that perhaps the anonymous poster will not be rushing for his coat next time

  63. daffy
    Thumb Down

    i signed up...

    I had been putting off signing up for ages, but recently after having a couple of holidays everyone was "oh you must use it" we'll keep in touch. blaa blaa yadda yadda

    I joined to check out 'friends' photos of the holidays. okay so far :p

    BUT the thing is not 3 months later it is so annoying, apps this, app that but you must add 25 friends or what a loads of annoying bo^^ocks!!!

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Cheap second hand servers anyone

    Seem like there might be a number of 2nd hand servers coming on the the market in the semi-near furture

  65. Cameron Colley

    Bluring the line.

    The problem I have with facebook, et al. is that they blur the line between "play" and "work" and "real" and "virtual".

    If I were to sign up to FB, or similar, what would I put in my profile? Would I include my employment details in the hope it would lead to meeting people in similar roles? If I did, would I then feel comfortable posting details of my sexual preferences (OK, so they're nothing out of the ordinary, but they _could_ be)?

    If I used it as a "virtual pub" to converse with acquaintances and strangers about my day, would I then dare let any of my colleagues know I was on there, in case they mentioned that I said I thought my manager was incompetent (they may or may not be, this is an example)?

    To me being involved with one of these sites is like inviting your dodgy mate form the pub to your work's Christmas party.

    But, each to their own I suppose, as a resident of sadville I'm hardly one to make any judgments.

  66. JCL

    May be early

    Well I eventually signed up a long while back because I kept getting requests to be made a friend (by people who I thought were already friends) and wanted to know what it's all about. I have better things to do than going around chucking sheep at people and such like, so I haven't really looked at it since then - privacy issues and general lack of interest being two reasons for this. This is probably why I also stopped looking at friendsreunited a long time ago. Does anyone still update their profile there?

    That said, a lot of people must find it useful, and we are only talking about the figures for one month. Now, if there are lower figures for three straight months you'd have a story.

  67. spiny norman

    Flawed business model?

    Whether or not you think FaceBook is a good idea or useful at all is not the point of the original article; the question is, how do Facebook and other social networking schemes make money, when they have already given away everything anyone might value about their service? Friends Reunited was free to sign up, but to make contact with anyone you had to subscribe. So, it was a short-lived income stream, as once you discovered that the girl you fancied in junior school had already left her husband for the former captain of the under-10s football team, there was really no reason to stay. But, it was income. Facebook et al seem to be left with plundering their membership data for demographic data to sell (never popular), or attracting advertising. Now, if you're El Reg you can go to potential advertisers with a fairly watertight story about how your readership is of a certain age and work in IT. If you're Facebook, what's the story? Aged between 12 and 35, with a lot time on their hands and want everything for free?

  68. TheHempKnight

    @Lord Baphomet

    but if by your own admission you've never used it, HOW can you possibly KNOW what it's like at all. Personally I don't trust heresay and other such conjecture on such matters. You can say it doesn't APPEAL to you, but without having been there, you can't possibly have judged it in any way.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    I found a useful 'social networking' site

    It's called gaydar (gaydar.co.uk). It's pretty ad-free, and I get to meet nice and not so nice people. Some of them I now know well, others intimately if not well. Now if facebook, bebo and myspace could follow this example, they might take off again....

  70. The Other Steve

    Random Thoughts @ Sarah Bee

    I signed up because someone me a friend request and I was bored. Set up a profile, joined some groups, then pretty much got bored again. Don't log in much now.

    But OTOH, someone off my friends list (like many others here, these are all people I know IRL) was able to get in touch about some urgent stuff when he didn't have my contact details handy.

    Also I have a few non techy friends who are in bands (proper grown up ones, who do gigs at decent venues) who use FB to send out invites to gigs. This is handy for them, since FB is taking care of all the tedious administration stuff like maintaining mailing lists and suchlike, and is free. Musicians don't like admin stuff, or paying for things, so it works nicely for them.

    I also a know a female vocalist who uses both FB and Myspace quite effectively as promotional tools.

    Me, I have an anonymous profile photo and my location details would have you believe I am currently in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in a cave.

    /Random (Isn't it ? Standard)

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: gaydar

    AC is right... that one's a bubble that's in no hurry to burst. The difference is that gdar provided a solution to an actual problem - around the late nineties when it was formed, all the straight boys started turning 'metrosexual' making it much harder for the real gayosexuals to spot one another on the street.

    They also have a business model - you get limited access for free (few dozen profile views and messages per day) but for more serious cruising you need to shell out about a tenner a month and get unlimited use.

    So, if you can identify an existing group with a common need and market a social networky thing to them, you might make money, otherwise you're more than likely to fail.

  72. Angus Wood
    Stop

    Re: ...they've only got the same problem as northern rock

    Northern Rock didn't buy sub-prime debt. What they were doing was lending poeple money to buy houses and the source of that money was the inter-bank lending market. Typically those loans are in the 3-month range. When the loan period is over then the loan is repaid by taking out a new loan for the same amount. The income from the mortgages paid the interest on the loans.

    When the sub-prime crisis hit all banks became wary about lending to each other as they had no real way of knowing how exposed everyone else was to this issue, and hence their credit worthiness. This led to a rapid spike increase in the interest rate that these types of loans were offered at.

    It is that spike which precipitated the crisis at northern rock. NR found that it was unable to roll the loans forwards at an interest rate that it could repay from the monies it was recieving so it started to bite in to it's capital base (savings, essentially) The story hit the news and people started withdrawing their money from NR further reducing it's capital base. The credit worthiness of NR was now in serious doubt and no-one would lend to it. The crisis was now locked in, and the bank became insolvent.

    So, while the sub-prime crisis was the trigger factor, it was not the precise cause. Ironically, if NR had securitised and sold off the UK consumer mortgage debt to the institutions buying sub-prime US mortgate debt (CDOs in the parlance) then it would have been immune to the crisis as the risk would have been transferred to the buyer.

    </finance pedant>

    Nothing to do with FB, but hey.

  73. Alastair

    Facebook is good. Shoot me now.

    A disclaimer to start: I haven't read all the comments on here. But I read the first few, which expressed the usual "I've never signed up for Facebook but I instinctively know that it's a pile of crap" and I got bored very quickly.

    I (and everyone I know) use Facebook to communicate with 'real life' friends, and not anyone else. It isn't a place to meet people online- in fact it's been set up to be quite the opposite. I can share photos and videos with them, and see photos and videos they have shared with me. Yes, I could e-mail them to everyone, but I could also print them all out and mail them. Facebook is far easier than both of those.

    I can organise events, invite people and send messages to all the attendees. Again, I could e-mail people. I could phone them. But trying to find out which weekend 20 or so people are available to go on a trip isn't easy, and having everyone's responses right there in front of you is simpler.

    So no, Facebook doesn't let me do anything that I couldn't do otherwise. But it does let me things more easily. I don't really see myself trading in much of my privacy (you don't HAVE to fill out all those fields, you know). And yes, their business model might be utter crud, but I don't really need to worry about that stuff...

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Web 2.0"

    so is this "Web 2.0" thing finally going to go away?

    because I have it on good authority that Web 3.0 will be in 3D, and you wouldn't believe the rumours I've heard about Web 4.0! I can't wait!

  75. Trevor Whitmore
    Pirate

    Just a glorified virus...

    I don't mind legit sites out there, that honestly go about giving you a service, google, yahoo, msn. Heck I even don't mind the advertisments from those sites, but facebook to me is a glorified virus. I mean what idiot creates a system that right off the bat wants your, hotmail login info INCLUDING PASSWORD, along with any other systems you wish to enter. Then what MORON enters there passwords? That is how I got my first Facebook e-mail, however when I set up my account I laughed when it asked to search for my friends, then just skipped that part knowing how stupid and unsafe that is.

    Glad people are finally getting tired of this site it is pathetic, the only reason I am on it is 2 friends and my GF likes it, so I have an account. Overall I hope facebook dies a quick death.

  76. Matthew Hale

    A lot to do...

    .... with the recent bout of media coverage over id theft/social engineering scams on these social networking sites, I would imagine..

  77. Matt
    Boffin

    Malware!

    Where are all the teenagers going to download their trojans and adware from now?

  78. Simon Painter
    Pirate

    Finding friends...

    The creepy thing is that Facebook was supposed to be the Friends Reunited of our generation and we all know what happened to that... people found their old school mates, realised it would cost a fiver subscription to get in touch with them and then didn't bother.

    FR had a massive advantage over FB because it was designed to solve a problem, to get people in touch with each other. FB was designed for picture sharing at college but has now lost its way. The 'friend finder' only allows you to locate people who you already have in your email address directory (so people you are already in touch with) and was basically designed to increase the userbase.

    If I want to find a person whose name I can't quite remember but who I met on Sark while I was living there 8 years ago then Facebook is not the tool for the job... if I want to find the friend of a friend that I met a few weeks back and who was photographed and correctly tagged then Facebook is (or at least used to be). Now, however, I have the contact details of everyone I want to contact so FB is useless to me other than for the photo sharing features (which was the attraction in the first place).

    If they lose the apps or scale down the apps (maybe by removing all invite features) then I may stick with it but considering a mildly skilled PHP hacker (in the correct sense of the word) managed to hack together an app in about 2 hours (including 15 mins reading the documentation) it's just too easy for any old git to pollute the experience with silly vampire/ninja/pirate/werewolf junk.

  79. John

    These are just Fads

    Everything on the web is a fad unless it solves or improves on a problem in the realworld like Ebay or Amazon.

    They work because their business model isn't based on advertising but on the fact people "need" to come to their site i.e. to buy something.

    These fad sites work for a while because people join for a while simply because word of mouth spreads around the idea that they are cool - and then those people then look cooler by having lots of friends forcing them to recruit more and then those people etc completing the circle. They don't solve any real problem, as once everyone signs up who's going to and you add your friends. That's it there's no problem they solve, even something like invites to parties can be solved better with a mass email or sms and then you're more guranteed to get a response.

    The world is insane all the same when it comes to the web as it's obvious most people have no idea what will make money in the long term or maybe they simply gamble that they're not the person holding the shares when everyone gets bored of it - however that doesn't explain BIG companies buying them.

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