3 min read

On Facebook and @jason Calacanis

There’s been a lot of discussion going on whether Facebook is an evil company.  There’s also a lot of talk going on about whether Zuck knows what he’s doing or if he should step down.  I don’t really plan on discussing those issues since it’s not my place.  Zuck’s done a great job carrying the company to 500 million users and he doesn’t need someone else piling on.  What I do want to discuss are the five suggestions that Calacanis put forth at the end of his most recent post.  They are insanely important issues and great suggestions whether I agree with all of them or not.  These suggestions boil down the industry’s frustration with Facebook.

  1. Add an export key. I don’t care about features.  I care about benefits.  Adding an export key is a feature. The notion behind this makes tons of sense, but Facebook is already doing this in a rudimentary form.  The benefit of an export key is letting me use my social graph and their context in other awesome applications.  Right now I can sync all my friends data with my iPhone.  Developers can also make great applications that make use of data I want to export such as email addresses.  An export key would be a welcome addition, but I think the important thing is to enable developers to use the information from your social graph.  If Facebook were to “fall” it would not be because tons of people want to get their data out.  They’ll find a way to do that regardless.  Facebook could “fall” because people found a much better product and user experience.
  2. Support a common ‘Like’ standard- This is already happening.  Anyone can add a like button and pull the data associated with “likes”. If Digg wanted to factor in the likes a piece of content has with their algorithm, they could! Maybe the ability to add a custom like button would make sense, but I think it would do more bad than good.  Imagine this:  I create a like button that looks like a submit button for a form or a simple image.  I’ve just found a way to make you like a page that has a hidden title of “World’s Best Porn”.  It also dilutes the significance of a like button.  The like button is a common standard.
  3. Do not require folks to use your currency–  Ebay only supports paypal.  Though I have my quarrels with paypal, I think that makes sense.  No one is stopping developers from integrating paypal or other merchant accounts.  Facebook currency and credits will provide a simple way for developers to make money in the facebook ecosystem.  Getting a merchant account is really hard.  Facebook credits/currency will allow developers to make money online in a much easier fashion.  It also provides a frictionless process.  Sign in with FBConnect, click pay, and done.  I will say this:  the fees need to be reasonable. 30% has somehow become the precedent since the Apple store.  I’d rather see their cost for processing/credits around the usual <= 3% level.
  4. Remind users of their privacy settingsThis is the best point of the article and something I hope that Facebook implements.  Steve Jobs also mentioned this point at D8.“Privacy means people know what they are signing up for in plain English. Some people want to share more data. Ask them. Ask them
    every time. Let them know precisely what you are going to do with their data.” – Steve Jobs, D8
    If Facebook constantly lets users renew their privacy vows, it will make them feel comfortable and gain their trust for the long term.  If we’re going to move the world forward to share more information we need to hold their hand through the transition.
  5. Stop stealing every idea out there and partner!- I feel like this is some personal issue with a backstory we don’t know about.  Facebook actually has a record of hiring/buying some of the best talent in the game for specific skill sets.  Friendfeed brought their current CTO, Divvyshot is going to make photos rock, Ivan from tipjoy will make payments rock, and Joe+Blake from  Parakey are some of the smartest guys out there.  So once again, not sure what the backstory is behind this suggestion, but I think Facebook does the opposite of what Calacanis suggests.

Criticizing Facebook and playing armchair Board of Directors gets old fast.  Suggesting ways to improve the product is great though.  They may not agree with it, but giving level headed suggestions will let them know where to at least think about taking the product.