Facebook is the #2 ranked site on the internet according to Alexa. You are undoubtedly well familiar with that blue background and white text – possibly even a little sick of it if recent news stories are any indication. We’re certainly not here to knock the hustle – in fact we’ve got a page on Facebook where we encourage people to interact, leave us feedback and get information on our latest updates.
Facebook reached its current heights of popularity through aggregation – everybody you know is there – and by making itself accessible via every platform from desktops to laptops to tablets to cell phones. (That’s something we’re aware of at RapReviews – a new site design is coming soon.) Everybody should by now be aware of the hidden costs, and I don’t just mean the “free to play, but to advance you pay” social media games that predominate the service. The real hidden cost is that Facebook holds your personal information in a vast data repository and the ability to use that data for profit. It’s an invasion of privacy we accept for the convenience of being able to network with our friends and look at their photos – some of those photos could wind up in FB’s own advertising. They can also target market products to you based on the things you talk about – mention that you just had a delicious bowl of ice cream and you might see ads for Cold Stone Creamery pop up on your wall or cell phone.
Do we accept this trade willingly? With over one billion users worldwide, it’s impossible to say every single one of them is informed about the exchange we make – free access in return for Facebook’s ability to profit off of us. If you are well informed and make this consent willingly, it’s not such a bad deal. It’s no different than the deal you make with us when you come here – we show you some advertising and we give you news, reviews, podcasts and interviews in exchange. Truthfully it’s not that profitable but that’s because we don’t have over one billion users. Since we do have a Facebook presence though, I feel we’re a little more engaged than Joe or Jane Q. Farmville. As such I don’t freely consent to every change Facebook makes, and don’t feel inclined to rave about their new “Messenger” service. If the iTunes app store ratings are any indication I’m not alone in feeling disgruntled.
The bad news is that like so many other bargains we’ve made with Facebook, this is one we’re forced to accept if we want to continue using FB on mobile devices. The only way around it right now is to log into Facebook through a mobile browser like Chrome or Safari – and if FB decides too many people are avoiding Messenger they may close that loophole. Why do they insist on sticking us with a second app through just to read mail from people we know? Two heads are not better than one, nor are two apps. The more apps you have open on your mobile device, the quicker the battery life drains, and as any iPhone user can attest to that 100% charge dwindles way too fast as is no matter how many things you turn off and how much you turn your screen’s brightness down.
I accept that Facebook is the 600 pound gorilla in this discussion – they’re going to do whatever they want and if we use the service we have to like it. I’ll be the first to say that I don’t, and so long as they don’t close the loophole, I’m not going to use Messenger. I tried it, I hate it, and I want nothing to do with it. I didn’t agree to the change in how I use my mobile apps to access Facebook and wasn’t unhappy with the old way of doing it – a notice would flash on my screen, and a circle for my current conversation would pop on the screen – when I was done I could drag the circle to the X and end the convo. It was simple and easy. Having two applications to do one thing is anything BUT simple or easy. I doubt they’ll reconsider the change but for me I’ll only be checking messages on a laptop or via a web browser from now on – until they force me to use an app for that too – at which point I’ll simply say sayonara to Facebook. After all there’s always Twitter if you still want to be on the social media bandwagon.