marți, 31 ianuarie 2012

Facebook Subscribe Is Dead

You know who I’m tired of seeing on Facebook? Me. Whenever I post an update, no matter what idiotic thought pops into my head, it jumps right to the top of the pack.

 Because of all those subscribers, my posts tend to get more comments than average (often in foreign tongues) and, thanks to Facebook’s ranking method, dominate other people’s news feeds.

That’s because back in September I signed up for the Subscribe feature on Facebook, which lets me run a feed for readers who know me through Mashable. The Subscribe program has been successful beyond my wildest dreams. I have 39,000 subscribers at this writing and I got them in about four months. I’ve been on Twitter for more than four years and have around 8,000 followers there.

Meanwhile, I almost never see what my non-journo friends and family are up to. Since Facebook tweaked its feed back in September, it’s like more than half of my Facebook friends have disappeared. Others have experienced the same phenomenon.

While this provides a nice ego boost, there’s a downside to Subscribe as well. No, I’m not just talking about the porn, spam and irrelevant messages that others have noticed. Since I subscribed to a bunch of other journalists and have a lot of journalists as friends, my News Feed looks more like Google News than Facebook.

Facebook IPO Hot or Not ?  Facebook Subscribe Is Dead ?

Right after Facebook posted a blog item about the switch, thousands of people protested via comments. “Facebook, you’re not near as smart as you think you are. Your algorithms for deciding what I want to see, who I want to talk to or what I think is important are 99.999% of the time the exact polar opposite of what I want,” wrote Facebook member Raymond J. Schlogel.


Anecdotal evidence supports this. A coworker recently told me she missed a friend’s engagement announcement on Facebook because it was lost in her journo-heavy feed. Kevin Cate, an entrepreneur, has also rolled out a Facebook app called Really Huge News that scours your Facebook feed to find the earth-shattering life events that the app’s name promises.

The fact that such an app exists shows that some believe that Facebook’s feed isn’t working as promised. However, the company hasn’t heard much criticism about the News Feed, says rep Michael Kirkland. “It’s tempting to take a personal experience and apply it,” he says, “but with 800 million people, it takes a lot to constitute a trend.” However, Kirkland notes that Facebook’s News Feed is a “work in progress and it’s always been.”

“Personally, there was just a breaking point this summer where I was overwhelmed with status updates and unable to keep up with my friends and family,” Cate says. “So it was either figure out a way to deliver these buried but important updates that my friends and families cared about, or be a bad friend. When I approached the eventual Really Huge News team, we all had the same issue.”

Do This

Nevertheless, I have a proposal for Facebook: Just as there’s a wild card berth for tournaments and playoffs, Facebook should modify its algorithm so that, say 30% of your feed is randomly chosen. In other words, apply the current method of choosing items (based on the number of responses a post receives) to 70% of the feed, but let the occasional oddball update slip through.

 I realize there are ways to do this manually. I could, for instance, put all my reporter friends into one group and my “for real” friends into another, but I’m too lazy to do that. I could set the feed exclusively to “most recent.” But that’s too random for me. I like the idea of having Facebook search for the most “relevant” stories. I just don’t want them to all be relevant, because over time, that’s making Facebook more irrelevant.

Another idea is to somehow divide the feed between public people like me and private people who don’t offer a Subscribe option.

Facts :

 Just how did our little status updates and vacation photos turn into what will likely be the biggest tech IPO in history (and a valuation that rivals some of the world’s biggest multinational banks and telecoms) ?

The world is anticipating Facebook to file for an initial public offering this week, and most indicators point to $10 billion in stock and a valuation at over $100 billion.

Its ad revenue far surpasses its social network contemporaries, its user base is projected to grow in 2012, and its revenue per employee and per user is on a steady upward climb.

Our number-crunching friends at Statista have pulled down a swell of stats on the company’s mind-boggling ascendance in recent years. Most of the numbers indicate that Facebook is built to last.

Does a perspective like that indicate a dangerous gulf between perceived and actual value? And are crazy-big IPOs like this another sign of Dot Com Bubble 2.0?

Facebook’s Road to IPO = Highway to Hell

It feels like it’s happening overnight, but Facebook has been marching toward an initial public offering (IPO) for almost eight years. Mark Zuckerberg created “TheFacebook” way back in 2004, nurturing it from dorm-room dream to Silicon Valley megasuccess during that time, and along the way he repeatedly dodged questions of when the company would offer stock.

 If buzz is any indication, that stake will soon be worth a lot. Facebook is said to be filing for its much-anticipated public offering on Wednesday this week, and estimates for how much the company will be worth once it’s done are in the $100 billion range.

Actually, some very lucky people have been able to own a chunk of Facebook for a while now. Apart from major investors like Microsoft and Russia’s Digital Sky — both of which invested substantially in the company over the years — Facebook employees have been able to buy and sell their stake in Facebook on secondary markets since 2009.

That would make the social network about four times the value of Google at the time it went public in 2004 with a valuation at $23 billion the day after.

Although Facebook has been the target of acquisition interest since its beginnings (Friendster was reported to have been interested as early as 2004), Zuckerberg had faith that he and his team could be more successful on their own, rejecting any and all offers.

 Zuckerberg never had much to say when asked about an IPO, preferring to keep the focus on the products Facebook was putting out and the network it was building. But the company began to take its first serious steps toward an offering in early 2011, reaching out to investment banks to help the company navigate the complicated financial waters.

While talks between Facebook and Yahoo progressed far in 2008, the $1.6 billion reportedly being offered wasn’t enough for Zuckerberg.

To experience Facebook’s road to IPO in more detail, browse the gallery. And let us know if you intend to buy stock — and why — in the comments.

And now the IPO filing appears imminent. Besides the reports from various financial publications, Facebook recently pushed out its new Timeline feature to all users and stopped its share trading on secondary markets, both without explanation. We should know the answer very soon.