Software // Social
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2/4/2014
10:46 AM
Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham
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10 Famous Facebook Flops

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

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my_2_cents
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my_2_cents,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/4/2014 | 11:18:43 AM
Facebook
Facebok is a game, not a serious site. This is a  site i would never entrust my financial or other more personal data.  They do have high aspirations to be more but I would never, based on their williness to trample on my privacy and use my info to sell adds, trust them with anything more than to share pictures and make fiippant comments.  But even that is beginning to bore me.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
2/4/2014 | 11:53:31 AM
Re: Facebook
@my-2_cents I'm with you on both points. I don't even share pictures with people in them. Any of those are subject to tagging by anyone and some may be completely unaware of the fact that someone posted a picture that includes them with tags.
Kristin Burnham
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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.
Ariella
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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.
RoleG356
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RoleG356,
User Rank: Strategist
2/4/2014 | 4:05:06 PM
Re: Facebook
Facebook or Google using your pictures can cause problems for you or anyone else in them. 

I would not share any pictures or personal data, which therefore makes Facebook entirely worthless to me
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2014 | 1:45:40 PM
Facebook IPO
One could argue that Facebook's IPO was its biggest and most public flop. 
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2014 | 3:11:14 PM
Re: Facebook IPO
Facebook's IPO may not have lived up to the hype, but it still raised $16 billion (making it the third-largest in U.S. history). 
majenkins
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majenkins,
User Rank: Ninja
2/4/2014 | 3:16:49 PM
Re: Facebook IPO Really?
Initially yes but have you checked the share price lately? $62.65 as of today up from the IPO price of $38, doesn't seem like a flop to me.
WKash
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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.

 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2014 | 2:20:37 PM
Facebook News Feed
Some people would call the news feed algorithm a continuing flop for users. Who agrees?
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2014 | 3:08:49 PM
Re: Facebook News Feed
I think it depends on how many pages you like and how many friends you have. I don't mind the algorithm since it helps resurface stories and status updates I otherwise may have missed. But I can understand how reprioritizing posts could aggrivate other users.
majenkins
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majenkins,
User Rank: Ninja
2/4/2014 | 3:19:47 PM
Re: Facebook News Feed
Not a big facebook user so thanks now I understand why my timeline seems so messed up sometimes, and I can't find things I saw before.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2014 | 4:53:01 PM
Re: Facebook News Feed
I agree, but then I find the whole concept of a friend-driven news feed of dubious value. Twitter's model, which allows you to follow anyone, is more conducive to surfacing interesting news through social channels.
David F. Carr
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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)
Kristin Burnham
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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.
David F. Carr
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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.
hrutledge974
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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.
Kristin Burnham
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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.
WKash
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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
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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?
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.
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