amrita Facebook’s inability to stay focused and be original

As the Randi Zuckerberg story continues to blow up on the interwebs, I suddenly realized that in fact the bigger story lay in that Facebook was about the release a massive feature/ app called Poke. I say massive – because the implications are.

Not only is Poke a copy of an App called Snapchat (Rated 12+ and supposedly popular with teenagers), but according to the Facebook PR engine – they were able to develop it in all of 12 days.

Ok. I guess that’s impressive. But wait, I have so many questions!

1. Is Facebook now officially in the business of copying, duplicating, replicating apps and products that have traction and overlap with their audience? And if yes, why are they blabbing about something they copied? I mean, its never cool to steal a tiny startup’s product… let alone vehemently show the market that they are not afraid to either overpay or copy innovation simply because they can. (Although, many including Ben Parr think that startups needn’t be afraid).

2. Next, why is Facebook spending time and energy on a ‘sexting’ app? Sure, its not just for sexting, and yes, there are probably many clever uses for a self-destruct picture message, but knowing Facebook, Poke will be the same if not more intrusive (and riddled with privacy and probably legal issues), as its other apps and features. In any case, shouldn’t Facebook be concentrating on more important things like generating revenue?

3. I guess its possible that Facebook has strategically decided to build this app and use it as a clever way to further entrench themselves into our lives, and specifically focus on youth because they are the most active and make up much of the power-user base. But then why make that your focus and invent something original instead? Somehow this feels very faddish to me and I really don’t understand why Facebook continues to invest in apps especially with the already growing failure of their app platform? If at all Facebook is still trying to create a ‘social operating system’ (which obviously hasn’t happened after repeated attempts), then as a shareholder I’d be pissed, because frankly, they first ought to figure out how to better monetize their traffic.

4. Also, whos idea was this anyway? Did Zuck walk into a room full of developers and go “alright, we’re copying 3 ideas this week – best one wins”?! And how do developers feel about this? At the end of the day, is this what they’d want their legacy to be? Hey, if I had mad coding skills and worked for a giant technology corporation that had the ability to change the world, I’d rather build something that made history… like things that Google or Apple put out. No offense developer friends, but I know many of you are at Facebook because you want to build something awesome, and not something faddy that was almost wholely copied.

5. And lastly, and perhaps the only question that really matters to users – what the heck is wrong with you Facebook? Why cant you build a quality social platform where users are not forced to recreate their friend list, when users have control over their pages, page views and impressions, and where users are not slaves to your ever changing privacy policies? Why Facebook, why? Why not let quality and integrity trump everything else?

Give us control, be transparent and charge us fairly, and I promise you’ll see a revival of faith and support. Until then, good luck, because you’re on a very slippery slope.


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