Talking tech since 2003

As a long-time Facebook user, I have become more and more frustrated and fed-up with the social networking site over the the last few weeks. This frustration is being fueled by numerous instabilities and vulnerabilities on Facebook, some of which Facebook doesn’t even appear to be addressing.

As you likely know, Facebook was the subject of great criticism on Thursday after it was down for a number of hours. While downtime is inevitable for pretty much every website, downtime of this extent – especially an unplanned and unannounced one – shows that something went wrong with Facebook’s service. This is especially apparent when you consider that Facebook had an “unrelated” downtime the day before, although it only applied to applications.

While these two incidents can easily be overlooked by the average user, one has to take into consideration the number of organizations and groups – much less everyday users like you and me – who rely on Facebook as a source of communication. For people like this who heavily use Facebook, further downtime may convince people to seek alternative solutions.

Another thing that most Facebook users are probably finding themselves subject to now is a high volume of spam from compromised accounts belonging to friends. This spam, usually in the form of status updates and instant messages has truly gotten annoying. For people who use Facebook’s chat service through a third-party instant messenger, this spam is carrying itself beyond the Facebook website, but onto the desktop as well. This is ultimately important because if Facebook does not do something to resolve this issue, it is highly likely that people will opt to either use Facebook less or close their accounts altogether.

However, I think there is a more important aspect that affects every Facebook user; privacy. While these are a nuisance in themselves, many people are overlooking one important fact. If an account has been compromised, any data available to that account has been compromised as well.

What does this mean? This means that even if you’ve done everything right and locked down the privacy settings on your Facebook account, your status updates will still be available to compromised accounts. Now, it’s important to point out that while there isn’t anything to suggest that the compromised Facebook accounts are doing anything more than posting annoying advertisements, the sheer thought that someone could be reading your seemingly private status updates, contact information, and pictures is a scary enough thought as it is.

It’s obvious that there are some serious issues that need to be addressed with Facebook, and that the downtime issue should be the least of Facebook’s concerns. I also question why Facebook hasn’t been all that counteractive in fighting the increasing level of spam and securing their site. After all, how hard is it for a company as large as Facebook to make a handful security improvements in order to better their site?  Lastly, it’s hard not to see the irony in this situation.  As Facebook appears to be heading in a downward spiral, “The Social Network”, a movie depicting the founding and growth of Facebook is set to be released in less than a week.  Combine all this with the Diaspora revolution and Facebook could suddenly be heading in the wrong direction.

What do you think about the direction that Facebook is heading towards?  Let us know in the comments!

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