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An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg: How to Improve Facebook (Katie’s Way)

Hey Markie,

Can I call you that? I feel like you already have so much information about me that I can be pretty informal with you. Anyways, so great job with the whole Facebook thing. Being one of the most successful companies doesn’t feel too bad does it? And you (allegedly) only burned a few friends to get to it.

While I, and millions of others, enjoy using Facebook, there are several things that I think your social network needs to address in the next few years.

First, what’s up with the privacy settings? One of the most contingent things that prevents people from joining Facebook, and causes them to leave, is their privacy concerns. Your company has an extraordinary amount of information on its millions of users. One can’t help but be skeptical of the possibilities of data mining, malware, security and hacking of individual’s private information that can include phone numbers, messages, and even IP addresses. So privacy concerns should always be a top priority.

Facebook has somewhat become an online population registry that legitimizes a person, organization, business, and even pets. It seems that people might as well be nonexistent if they don’t have a Facebook profile, and if they do, they want their information to remain private, or public as the case may be.

One of the key issues with Facebook privacy is that the settings are a bit complicated, and riddled with concern. In fact, Forbes recently raised several concerns with face recognition when uploading photos. Facebook also has a history where default settings have been changed, and is then reinstated after some backlash. I guess it’s always easier to ask for forgiveness then permission right?

Facebook should strive to become a company that is open and transparent about users’ privacy and information. Let your users know exactly how their information is being used, whether its to enhance their experience, or sell them out to marketers.

Your audience isn’t dumb. In fact, those who use Facebook and social networks expect transparency and authenticity, especially with a company that is such a part of their everyday lives.

And your history of changing privacy settings, then reinstating them after backlash, or hiding settings through a ton of navigation pages… yeah… that needs to stop. A key component of attracting and retaining users is to gain their trust. And you’re not going to do that with semi-shady and secretive business tactics. Be open. Be honest.

A second change that I recommend is that Facebook focus on creating communities and promoting social causes. One of the key uses of Facebook is drawing attention to causes and creating social change. There are numerous examples of how Facebook has been a tool for good, so why not make it more accessible? Show how many people are connected to a cause, make it easier to mobilize thousands, and add a fundraising component.

Lastly, add some simple changes to make using Facebook easier and more convenient:

  • Take a page from Google or Twitter and create lists and groups of people. Sorting through 5,000 friends’ updates is time-consuming, so creating groups or feeds solely for work, businesses, news, etc. would be helpful.
  • On that note, get rid of the 5,000 friends limit. The more connections, the better right?
  • Add components that act like a personal assistant including reminders, calendars, appointments, syncing schedules, etc.
  • Allow businesses and organizations to edit their pages and ads, which has always remained fairly standard
  • Let users shop directly from businesses Facebook pages by adding a purchasing and payment option
  • Limit a users’ post to ten a day; any more than that, the account should be deactivated (kidding of course, although that might help people who need to learn boundaries).
  • Create a way to reply to comments so that users’ can see a conversation or when someone replies to their comment.
  • Incorporate email into Facebook profiles instead of messaging, which is a bit clunky and hard to manage.
  • Allow users to personalize their profiles including background images, text colors, etc. The plain blue and white is just not as much fun.
  • Finally, post more cat videos: 

Of course, these are just several options that Facebook can look at to improve user experience. Whatever you choose to do with Facebook in the next few years, it’s important to keep your millions of users in mind. And while your company continues to grow at a rapid place, it can just as quickly decline if Facebook is not authentic and transparent.

Your Friend,

Katie

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Categories: Writing
Posted by Katie Le on November 13, 2011
3 Comments Post a comment
  1. 11/15/2011

    The picture says it all. Facebook is kind of like a voluntary big brother to us. We give it a ton of information – everywhere we are and everything we do, like, and know is available to them with no snooping required on their end. I agree that Facebook should become more transparent for what they are doing with all of that precious information. Facebook is most likely trustworthy, because of its stature…however one can’t help but wonder what could be going on…it’d be nice to know!

    Ryan

  2. 11/16/2011

    Great suggestions Katie. I really like your breakdown of Facebook’s privacy features. Following the rising outcry criticism by users and lawmakers about the many privacy issues, we’re bound to seeing them change tactics pretty quickly. I also really like your idea about community/organization promotion. These demographics have served as an extremely vital part of Facebook and has been key to their success. I would really like to see them add more features that are tailored to organization promotion but I would also like them to integrate fundraising features similar to Kickstarter.com. That would draw a lot more users to the site and promote continuous engagement with the site.

    And yes, MOAR CAT VIDEOS!

  3. 11/16/2011

    We talk so much in class about being transparent and showing the consumer what our message is all about. Facebook is doing just the opposite with this. I don’t know the people who work their nor am I being interacted with. That’s one thing that frustrates me with Facebook. They change things, but only put on your news feed that changes will happen. I don’t mind the changes, but I’d like a personal message or something. At this point we talk so much about making the advertising and customer experience relatable to one person using Facebook. Yet Facebook doesn’t do that for us.

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