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Facebook fail

February 13th, 2010 · Posted by Skuds in Technology · 3 Comments · Technology

The recent Facebook redesign has not been popular.  I’m quite sanguine about Facebook layout changes: I figure that if I don’t like it that is not a problem because it will change soon anyway, but a lot of people are still upset about.  A few of them are even upset about a major change that they only think happened.

Have a look at this article on ReadWriteWeb, which has now become one of my favourite things on the Internet.  Specifically skip down to the comments section.

What appears to have happened is that a technical website wrote an article about Facebook logins.  The article became one of the top Google results for anybody searching for “Facebook Login”.  Quite a few Facebook users then tried to login by Googling “Facebook Login”, ended up on ReadWriteWeb  and thought it was a major redesign of Facebook and could not login.

Hilarity ensued.

It is easy to poke fun at people who do not even realise what site they are on, who are regular users of a site but haven’t or don’t know how to bookmark it, and who find it easier to go to Google and type ‘Facebook’ in the search field than to just type ‘Facebook’ in the address box of Interet Explorer (I think it is a safe bet most of them are using Internet Explorer!)  Easy to deplore this as an example of web illiteracy, but it might actually be a good thing.

Back in the 90’s there was a lot of backlash on the internet about AOL users – any old-timers remember the “me too” business? – when users who got there the hard way, who had been internet users before there was even a web and it was all mail, usenet and gophers, felt their cosy world was being invaded by far less technical people.  AOL, for all its faults did bring a lot of new people to the internet, and now Facebook is doing the same.

Youngsters are now growing up in a world where there is a computer in the house and the computer has Facebook, Bebo and other stuff on it.  They may not even really be aware of how marvelous this all is: they just take it for granted that Facebook is on the computer, making no distinction between what in physically on that machine and what is online else where and just reached via their machine.

In a way it is a sign of the increasing democratisation of the web, and if you are a large website catering to large numbers of unsophisticated or non-technical users perhaps you should be taking that into account.  The real culprit could even be considered to be Google for not having come up as the first result on those searches.

Part of me wonders how many of those taking the piss out of the confused and angry commenters on the RWW site joined the internet as AOL’ers in the 90s but are keeping quiet about it.  But another part of me wonders how somebody who can’t figure out how to bookmark their favourite website managed to get to Google in the first place – most computers are Windows PCs and most Windows PCs come all set up to use Microsoft’s own search engine as default.  Bypassing that default to get to Google is at least as hard as going to Facebook.

But as a bit of an old-timer myself I still think it is very amusing.


3 Comments so far ↓

  • Rob Glover

    Happy to put hand up and say I joined the internet in 1997 as an AOL user – even though I’m fairly technical (or was at the time). So I built my own PC and went online using AOL! Basically, in those days AOL, compuserve et al used to just drop disks through the mail at you, and I was too lazy to go searching past them for a ‘credible’ ISP instead. What was a credible ISP in 1997 anyway? Demon, perhaps.
    Prior to that, I remember when Windows NT came out arguing in the pub with those who regarding graphical-based operating systems as somehow not proper OSs like Unix, because ordinary people might then start using computers. (There was an exception for Macs though – Apple was the underdog at the time).
    It amused me – and still does – that so many techies practice their own version of intellectual elitism.

  • Skuds

    Don’t know about ‘credible’. Was Cix perhaps the credible choice? My decision was based on being able to get local rate calls. Very few ISPs had national coverage back then with local points of presence.

    When I got online it was after using bulletin boards for a few years, and a little before AOL was on the scene. I didn’t fancy Compuserve because I didn’t want a numerical email address.

    By chance, there was an ISP based about a quarter of a mile from my house so I went with them.

    As for graphical interfaces – I wonder how the Unix types feel now that all flavours have graphical front-end? I can sort of see their point though. Much as I appreciate the GUI on personal computers it still doesn’t seem entirely appropriate for network operating systems. I don’t think I ever really mentally adjusted from Netware 3.x to NT and may have dinosaur tendencies.

  • janeskuds

    Our database system at work changed, a few years ago, from a GUI system to a more DOS kind if thing. It was the system I had originally trained on so I didn’t mind, in fact I prefer it, but a lot of staff really hated it and still do. Many of them are in their early 20s and I think they just couldn’t cope with the non-GUIness.