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I get the anger. I personally loathe Facebook and I have for a long time, even as I appreciate and study its importance in people’s lives. But on a personal level, I hate the fact that Facebook thinks it’s better than me at deciding which of my friends’ posts I should see. I hate that I have no meaningful mechanism of control on the site. And I am painfully aware of how my sporadic use of the site has confused their algorithms so much that what I see in my newsfeed is complete garbage. And I resent the fact that because I barely use the site, the only way that I could actually get a message out to friends is to pay to have it posted. My minimal use has made me an algorithmic pariah and if I weren’t technologically savvy enough to know better, I would feel as though I’ve been shunned by my friends rather than simply deemed unworthy by an algorithm. I also refuse to play the game to make myself look good before the altar of the algorithm. And every time I’m forced to deal with Facebook, I can’t help but resent its manipulations.
The challenge that Facebook has is that the root cause of having a cluttered feed is really the underlying social network that one constructs—it’s the core of their product.
They’ve made small attempts to address that, like introducing asymmetric following, but I can’t imagine that has been all that effective given their size. (Overhauling your product when you’re at the scale of Facebook is incredibly hard, and they’ve succeeded in many cases, which is an impressive feat.)
In Facebook’s mission to connect everyone, the product doesn’t allow the individual to control their proximity to people in the way that we naturally do in real life. The answer isn’t to give users more control, since having knobs (i.e. Google+ Circles) is too onerous (most people won’t customize). And since they’re too big to re-architect the product (probably not a good idea) they’re understandably left playing whack-a-mole with the symptoms, instead, which is suboptimal.
Thus, we’re stuck with this socially awkward dinner party host who is trying to make sure everyone is only talking to the people who they’re likely to want to talk to, resulting in an overly socially sterile environment that feels more like a chaperoned dance than a party.
Outside of defensive reasons, it makes a ton of sense that the company is splitting out its service into discrete apps, and buying up anyone who is exhibiting growth, especially on mobile and especially systems like chat that have a different social network architecture.