Software // Social
News
2/4/2014
10:46 AM
Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

10 Famous Facebook Flops

Facebook has suffered some ignominious strikeouts during its 10 years. Consider these 10 features and products that didn't fly.
Previous
1 of 11
Next

Few could have predicted the rise of Facebook when Harvard University sophomore Mark Zuckerberg launched it with friends from his dorm room 10 years ago.

Back then it was "thefacebook.com," a social network exclusively for Harvard students. The service had no photo albums, no Timeline, no News Feed. It was a bare-bones, static profile page where users could list their basic information and interests.

Facebook's popularity rose quickly, amassing hundreds of thousands of users as it expanded to colleges and universities, high schools, and beyond. The social network boasts more than a billion users worldwide today.

In a recent interview, Zuckerberg reflected on Facebook's tenure and his own success: "I'm just really lucky. I really feel this deep responsibility, and I try to help folks here feel how unique of a position we're in, and that we need to do the best that we can," he said.

[From a Harvard dorm room to 1 billion users. Read Facebook History: 10 Defining Moments.]

While Facebook's rise to fame was fast, it wasn't without obstacles: In the last 10 years, the social network endured its fair share of turmoil in countless lawsuits and numerous privacy debacles. Just months after launching in 2004, Harvard University rival social network ConnectU filed a lawsuit against Facebook alleging that Zuckerberg copied its idea, stealing source code and intellectual property.

The social network has been at the center of many other lawsuits since then. The company settled two: one concerning Facebook Beacon, its controversial ad platform, and another involving Sponsored Stories, another type of ad. Both lawsuits centered on users' privacy.

Facebook reported that it was profitable for the first time in 2009. That year, the company brought in $777 million in revenue -- nearly triple that of 2008, SEC documents later revealed. It has come a long way since then. Last week, Facebook reported fourth-quarter sales of $2.6 billion, up 63% from the same time last year.

In a decade, Zuckerberg's team converted thefacebook.com from a standalone profile page to a social network with a bevy of features: Timeline, News Feed, Chat, Messaging, advertising, Pages, Facebook Credits, photo albums, commenting, sharing, and more.

Along the way, Facebook has tested a number of experimental designs and features, green-lighting some and killing others. Here's a look at 10 features from Facebook's past that didn't survive. Which ones got you riled, Facebook users?

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

Previous
1 of 11
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
WKash
50%
50%
WKash,
User Rank: Author
2/11/2014 | 3:47:05 PM
Re: Maybe Not All Bad
I agree -- no one ever made progress by following the crowd. That said, Facebook is in the tough spot of having its every move scrutinized by a huge crowd.  That makes it more crucial to test its ideas with its customers before suddenly alienating them in public, as they tended to do in their earlier "flops."
mak63
50%
50%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
2/8/2014 | 12:51:26 AM
no clue
I'm a Facebook user, but to be honest, besides Facebook Home; which I saw last year in an AT&T phone, I don't know or don't remember any of these flops.
I guess is not a bad thing, right?
Kristin Burnham
50%
50%
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/7/2014 | 4:39:20 PM
Re: Maybe Not All Bad
That's a great point, and one that all businesses can heed. Make mistakes, learn from them, and don't be afraid of failure.
hrutledge974
50%
50%
hrutledge974,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/7/2014 | 3:09:05 PM
Maybe Not All Bad
Progress is made by those who try and fail and try again.  No one ever made progress by following the crowd.  They may have had these failures but Zuckerberg still is a billionaire.
David F. Carr
50%
50%
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
2/7/2014 | 12:36:41 PM
FBML not a flop, just a first try
I wouldn't classify FBML as a flop. It enabled the first generation of Facebook applications, helping build the platform on top of the social network. It had drawbacks, certainly, since developers needed to learn yet another markup language. Once Facebook figured out a way that it could enable apps and page tabs with a combination of HTML iFrames and a Javascript SDK, the doors opened much wider. Now, essentially anyone with HTML and JavaScript skills could build an app or adapt an existing web app to function as an embedded Facebook app.

But that first generation of FBML apps created the initial momentum for the very concept of a Facebook app, even though the technical means of delivering apps later changed.
Ariella
50%
50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
2/6/2014 | 5:47:48 PM
Re: Facebook
@Kristen yes, but then I have to go to the trouble of untagging. I have to do that for some posts, too.  And I feel like I'm cleaning up after others. I very rarely tag people, and when I do it's only for a single name of a person I know is interested in the topic. I never do a group of dozens on something fairly general.  The only thing worse than being tagged where you don't want to be is being placed with groups without your permission. I have told people I will unfriend them if they do that to me. Yes, I can remove myself and do, but I shouldn't have to go through the trouble of doing that for something I never opted into in the first place.
Kristin Burnham
50%
50%
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/6/2014 | 5:34:25 PM
Re: Facebook email was an odd one
Exactly. Not only that, but its messaging app really popular. One of those "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" situations.
Kristin Burnham
50%
50%
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/6/2014 | 5:31:53 PM
Re: Facebook
If someone posts a photo to Facebook and tags themself or someone else, you (the photo owner) and the person tagged receive alerts. They can choose to untag themselves and request that the uploader remove it if it's particularly compromising.
David F. Carr
50%
50%
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
2/5/2014 | 9:17:33 AM
Facebook email was an odd one
I still don't know what Facebook was trying to accomplish by adding email addresses, when its messaging is so un-email like (no subject lines for example)
WKash
50%
50%
WKash,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2014 | 5:33:43 PM
Re: Facebook IPO Really?
Very true. It's a good example where not all flops end badly and that often times, flops offer the inflection point to  rebound and do even better.

 
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Social is a Business Imperative
Social is a Business Imperative
The use of social media for a host of business purposes is rising. Indeed, social is quickly moving from cutting edge to business basic. Organizations that have so far ignored social - either because they thought it was a passing fad or just didnít have the resources to properly evaluate potential use cases and products - must start giving it serious consideration.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Nov. 10, 2014
Just 30% of respondents to our new survey say their companies are very or extremely effective at identifying critical data and analyzing it to make decisions, down from 42% in 2013. What gives?
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 16, 2014.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.