Facebook: Less Errors, More Connections Please
Wednesday, July 8, 2009; 9:52 PM
One thing I'll grudgingly grant to MySpace - the site works. That's more than I can say for Facebook over the last month or so.
In the past Facebook has had desperately slow page views and occasional downtime. But recently, the site has become almost unusable for me. And no, I'm not just talking about the abysmal messaging system that still won't let me properly sort through thousands of emails. I'm talking about a complete inability to create new "connections."
My profile (no vanity URL for me yet) is near the 5,000 limit on friends, but it has a few slots to spare. And I'm a fan of only a handful of Facebook pages. But any time I try to add or confirm a friend, or become a fan of a page, I get an error saying "Sorry, you cannot create any more connections."
The fact that there are limits at all on connections is absurd (MySpace doesn't have this limit, neither does Twitter or any other site I can think of). And the fact that I can't make new connections even though I'm under the limit is worse.
I know Facebook continues to grow at a breakneck pace - Comscore pegs them at 316 million monthly visitors and 122 billion page views. But the fact that MySpace, no slouch in the user numbers or page views themselves (122 million, 35 billion), hasn't had these problems is worth noting.
MySpace has a different architecture than Facebook, though. News items from friends aren't pushed to my home page into one feed, for example. Regardless, Facebook needs to address this on a technical level, not a policy one.
A Facebook employee, listening to my gripes, recently told me to switch my Profile to a Page, and they would transfer all my 5,000 friends and 4,500 or so friend requests over to that page as fans. But putting aside the fact that people may not be so happy to be labeled as "fans," this still isn't a good solution. I can't have a two way connection with these people via messaging and chat.
Facebook either needs to ditch the idea of friends entirely and move to a Twitter follow model, or allow as many connections as I choose to create. The company now has 1,000 employees, I've heard recently. One of those bright and eager engineers should be able to fix this.
Am I asking a lot of a company that has grown faster than perhaps any Internet company in history? Probably. But if they want to be the next Google, it's time to get organized.