Sunday, February 7, 2010

The 10 Most Annoying Things About Facebook

Sure, Facebook can be a lot of fun. It's a great way to reconnect with lost friends and to keep up with people on the fringes of your social circle. And as far as workday distractions go, there's nothing better.

It's hardly a perfect service, though. Minor aggravations add up fast and can drive you nuts. We've combed through the annoyances to find the ten annoyances that bug people the most.

Problem: Constant interface changes

Why it's annoying: Granted, innovation is necessary to avoid becoming stale, but sometimes you're better off leaving well enough alone. Facebook has radically overhauled its front page so many times that it's hard to keep count. Just as the anger dies down over one design, the site changes things again -- and confusion sets in. What's the difference between "News feed" and "Live feed"? And why can't Facebook remember which I prefer?

Possible solution: Sadly, there's not much you can do about this -- except wait for the next face-lift.

Problem: Inappropriate automated friend suggestions

Why it's annoying: Friend suggestions can be handy, but when Facebook tries to push an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend on you, it's kind of awkward. Similarly, if you've had a major falling-out with someone who has mutual friends, you're bound to see their face pop up in the 'suggestion' field at some point. It makes a clean break that much harder to get.

Possible solution: The little "x" to the right will make the suggestion go away forever. To prevent further frustration, you might want to also click "see all" and weed out any other offending names.

Problem: Never-ending game invitations

Why it's annoying: 'Farmville' and 'Mafia Wars' might be fun, but if you don't want to play them, the constant invites are infuriating. Many Facebook games are like Ponzi schemes; the way to succeed is to get more people playing. And once you've managed to filter out one game, another pops up.

Possible solution: It's not too hard to hide the requests and invitations for these games. Just click "Block this application" when you get the first invite. Then, hover over the updates that are clogging your news feed, and click "Hide" when the word appears.

Problem: Political fights

Why it's annoying: Between cable news and talk radio, it's hard enough to hide the squabbling between the left and the right. So when political debates fire up on Facebook, it's particularly annoying. All you want to do is see friends' pictures and learn what they're up to -- not eavesdrop on a debate over healthcare reform.

Possible solution: If you've got a friend who picks such fights in their status updates, you might be best off hiding them. You can still check in on them whenever you'd like, but you won't have opinions shoved down your throat.

Problem: Imported updates from Twitter

Why it's annoying: Tweets have their own language and shorthand, and if you're not familiar with the 140-character-or-less updates, it might look like someone had a hand spasm while typing. Facebook and Twitter are two entirely different services -- and forcing the two together feels like a poorly arranged marriage.

Possible solution: Once again, you're kind of stuck. Your best bet is to either embrace the language of the tweet -- or learn to selectively ignore posts.

Problem: No 'Dislike' button

Why it's annoying: A friend proudly mentions in a status update that she got a promotion. That's an easy thing to like. But what about when they announce they've been laid off? In its relentless drive to be cheery, Facebook hasn't given us the choice to quickly commiserate or disagree with someone.

Possible solution: There's an active lobbying effort to get Facebook to add a 'Dislike' button, with over 553,000 people members of a group specifically asking for one. Hopefully, the powers that be will listen to the protests.

Problem: People who 'friend' you too fast

Why it's annoying: Sometimes it's a person you've gone out with one time. Sometimes it's a coworker you only speak with occasionally. But odds are you've been 'friended' by someone you'd rather not have on your list. Technically, ignoring the request is an option, but that can create some real world tensions.

Possible solution: Your privacy settings can make this problem an easy one to conquer. You can block specific people from seeing status updates, photos and more by choosing 'custom' and black-listing them. Then, hide their updates from your news feed.

Problem: Stealth tagging

Why it's annoying: We all have horrifying childhood pictures or shots we wouldn't want to share with the world. Invariably, though, friends will post them as a joke of sorts and tag you. All of a sudden, that prom picture of you with acne, coke-bottle glasses, and a really bad perm is out there for everyone to see.

Possible solution: You can untag yourself, which prevents others from putting your name to the picture -- but in some cases, that's closing the barn door after the horse has run away.

Problem: Obvious celebrity marketing ploys

Why it's annoying: Celebrities love Facebook -- or so it would seem. But all too often, it's someone writing on their behalf (and often poorly). That doesn't stop avid fans from falling over themselves to 'like' every comment and chime in as part of the 'amen' chorus.

Possible solution: Unless you're sure it's actually the celebrity doing the updates, you'd often do better to just avoid the pages. After all, is it really that critical that you declare yourself as a fan?

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