Once upon a time, in the tiny hamlet of Menlo Park, California, there was a company called Facebook.
This company was unlike any other (sorry, make that ‘like MANY others’) in that it connected people from around world through a magical and glorious technical achievement called the Internet.
Everyone loved Facebook:
“Oh my God, it is so easy to upload pictures of my baby!”
“I can’t believe I found all my old high school and college friends so easily!”
“Hey everyone, I’m off to get a coffee – can’t start my day without coffee!”
People from around the world chatted, and shared, and reconnected. There was something really exciting going on in the tiny hamlet of Menlo Park.
But then, one day, because Facebook was growing so so so very large – and its bills were growing so so so much – it needed to somehow make money.
Facebook was so kind that they didn’t want to charge people for the privilege of using its service – so it added advertising. Advertising so tiny that the people of the world didn’t even noticed the ads were there.
“There are ads on Facebook? You know, I’ve never seen one – and I certainly have never clicked on one! Good for them.”
Perhaps Mean Old Mr. Advertiser started to realize that no one was clicking or even noticing his ads.
But little Facebook still needed to get paid – I mean, even a whore has to eat – so they decided to work something out with Mean Old Mr. Advertiser.
Maybe they could somehow leverage their size and sell the personal information of their 900 million users. Would that keep Mean Old Mr. Advertiser off their backs so they could resume their happy life of connecting the world and bringing nothing but joy?
Facebook was so kind to its users that they even added a “Like” button (because “Like” is much nicer than “Dislike” and Coca-Cola doesn’t want to see how many people “Dislike” Coke Zero).
It was so simple, users could either “Like” something or choose not to hit the “Like” button. It was up to the user.
That worked for awhile until the users of the world started to realize what was happening. Many users got angry and felt their privacy was being invaded.
About 15 people actually quit Facebook (while another 100 million signed up).
After a few months, things calmed in the tiny hamlet of Menlo Park and the people on Facebook – to a lesser degree – felt fairly happy again.
But then, one day, Facebook decided that the users of the world needed to share every bit of information about their lives – from birth to even death – and put it all into a very conforming and dizzying glop of data called Timeline.
Mean Old Mr. Advertiser LOVED the idea of Timeline.
Finally, Facebook was thinking like him. Now they got the idea. Mean Old Mr. Advertiser could scour the lives of the people of the world and target them with goods and services that they may or may not enjoy.
And somehow, in just a brief eight years of existence – little Facebook grew and grew and grew and became worth $100 BILLION FUCKING DOLLARS! Oh, goodness, pardon me. (An IPO last year would been insane! What a missed opportunity!… but I digress.)
Well, from here the story gets a little tragic.
The beaten down people of the world and users of Facebook grew so exhausted from the daily overhauls of the site (which were necessary to maximize revenue) that they actually stopped spending time on Facebook – instead reading real books to their children and enjoying the outside world.
Comments started to appear on other websites (yes, there are actually other websites) saying they hate Facebook, are never going back and are quitting.
Poor little Facebook. They just wanted to HELP the world – not FUCK OVER the world.
How could a crappy redesign and a selling of their soul piss people off so much?
I mean, why do the people of the world care so much?
Well, we all know how the story ends.
Disgruntled engineers (and let’s assume an MBA or two) who helped create the chaos from the direction of Uncle Mark and Aunt Sheryl, began grumbling about their need to become millionaires and billionaires like so many of their friends.
The only way to stop them from leaving the tiny hamlet of Menlo Park – and going to, oh, say, the dangerous crack alleys of Mountain View and Cupertino to seek their fortune – was to take the company public.
By selling $5 or $10 billion dollars in stock to the ‘public’ (at a BULLSHIT valuation of $100 billion!) everyone could become rich and (yes) happy.
So at least the employees of Facebook will now be happy. The people of the world, who are seriously beginning to hate Facebook and are either leaving or staying away in droves, are less and less happy every day.
But Mean Old Mr. Facebook couldn’t care less – the users can go fuck themselves.
“Just put your freakin’ family photos in the template we have provided, “Like” the new Coke Zero, play the stupid Zynga games, pay for a movie rental, pay for a music subscription, and keep your stupid mouth shut. We’re not getting to a trillion dollar valuation from pictures of your goddamned baby!”
Mean Old Mr. Facebook is right. The User is wrong.
The moral of the story: Don’t screw your users. They’re the ones that built you up and they’re the ones that will bring you down.
Jill Kennedy – OnMedea