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Author
Steve Tiszenkel
Date
September 23, 2011

The Social Network

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How many times has this happened to you? You check out Facebook for the 30th time that day only to find that everything’s different now. Maybe the font size is smaller, maybe your friends are all in a row down the side of the page, maybe it’s hot pink instead of blue. (OK, that one hasn’t happened yet). Whether the changes are large or small, if you’re like a lot of Facebook users, you’re probably not happy.

It happened again Wednesday, and this time it’s serious. Facebook rolled out a load of new features — and they’re not done yet — but the highest-profile change is that instead of the latest updates at the top of your news feed, now you’ll see the updates Facebook thinks are the most important.

But, you’re thinking, I liked it the way it was before. So why does this keep happening?

Facebook is a big deal. It’s a very big deal. Lots of websites want to do the same kind of thing Facebook does. Facebook is far ahead of all of them, even the ones with a lot of money to throw around, like Google. Still, Facebook knows that no matter how successful they are, they’re never really safe. You may think you’ll never abandon Facebook — all your friends are there! It’s so much fun! But that’s exactly what people used to say about MySpace, which was once the No. 1 site in the U.S. Six years ago, News Corporation, the owners of Fox, ¬†bought MySpace for almost $600 million. They just sold it for $35 million. To Justin Timberlake.

MySpace failed because another website came along that did a lot of the same things it did, just a lot better. That website was Facebook. You can bet that Facebook hasn’t forgotten that. They know that if they don’t try something new, someone else will.

Mark Zuckerberg, the guy who created Facebook while he was a sophomore at Harvard, says he knows what you want better than you do. In 2009, he told his employees that the best companies “don’t listen to their customers,” and that companies that do listen are “stupid”.

So Facebook will continue to make changes, and people will continue to complain. But until people start leaving, it’s not going to stop. Facebook now has 800 million users. That’s more than 1 in 10 people in the entire world. Like it or not, they’re doing something right.

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