Recently the wizards at Facebook rolled out a new feature: See Less. It allows you, allegedly, to mark certain of your friends so that fewer of their posts show up in your feed. Intended as a polite way of dialing back your exposure to overparticipaters and people that, for whatever reason, you just aren’t as interested in as others.
Great idea. Great idea. If you’re like most people, you’re probably “friends” with all kinds of people you aren’t friends with. In my case, I’m friends with people I don’t know and couldn’t pick out of a lineup and I can’t actually remember how we “met” in the first place. Which is fine – some of these people are really bright and I enjoy what they bring to my news feed. Serendipity, exposure to unexpected viewpoints – these are good things.
I was pleased to hear about the new feature because there are people in my feed who needed dialing back. You know how not only do you have FB friends who are much lower priority than the rest, but sometimes, for no fucking reason you can figure out Facebook decides that said low-priority friend is the most important person in the history of your life? And all of a sudden you get everything they post in your feed? If Mark Zuckerberg had mind reading technology they’d just hot-wire every thought the person has directly onto your wall. Meanwhile, you have real friends that you hear from so rarely you wonder if they’re still there, or maybe they unfriended you. So you go check their wall and wow, just look at all that interesting stuff that Facebook has decided to hide from you.
So I immediately began making use of the See Less feature. There’s one person in particular, the S.O. of someone I used to know, who friended me for no obvious reason other than hey, my S.O. knows this person sort of. And holy fuck, was this person’s feed all up in my grille with stuff I could not possibly care less about.
I used the See Less. It “works” like this. Say I’m sick of Dr. Denny. (I’m not – I love Denny – but let’s use him as an example so as to protect the feelings of the people I’m actually talking about.) I just click on that little icon to the right, then “I don’t want to see this,” then it gives me an option to see fewer posts from him or to unfollow him altogether.
Nothing happened. I used it again, Nada. So I kept using it. In total I probably wound up telling FB I wanted to see less of this person more than 10 times, to no effect. Finally I just unfollowed.
Facebook responded by selecting another friend with not much interesting to say and installing him/her as the new alpha dog in my feed. At this point I have now used the See Less feature at least 20 times and if anything I’m seeing more from this person.
What the frickin’ frickety frick?
All of which leads me to the following:
1: WHY would Facebook do this? See Less is a great idea. Certainly they could make it work. So what gives? Why would they tease us? Is this some new kind of unethical test they’re running?
2: Have any of you seen the same thing or is it just me that the feature doesn’t work for?
3: How about this, Facebook. How about you develop a feature that lets me assign each of my friends a rating from 1-5. A 5 means I want to see most of what they post. A 1 means I don’t want to hear from them unless they’re on fire. And maybe not even then. If you can’t make that work then maybe we should all have stuck with MySpace.
Facebook has the integrity of a hyena in heat, so who the hell knows what’s going on here. But it’s annoying as hell and, from a business operations perspective, utterly inexcusable.
I have no illusions about Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, or my relationship with them. They’re not here for me, I’m here to be pimped to their advertisers. But the more you antagonize us, the less usable and friendly your product is, the more susceptible you become to competition.
All I ask is that when you deploy a feature, you make sure that it works.