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Thinking Back to “The Facebook”

My friends were shocked to learn that I didn’t run out to see “The Social Network” on opening night. After all, I’m a Social Media Monday blogger and tech guru, aren’t I? The reason I held off was that I was in the process of reading David Kirkpatrick’s “The Facebook Effect,” to learn more about the ever-growing social network.

So this weekend, I finally got around to seeing the movie (even happened to run into a few Communispacers!). Now, I could spend my time boring you with my take on the movie, but there are enough reviews out there. Instead, I’ll share with you what struck me. As the tale of Zuckerberg et al. unfolded on the screen, I was mesmerized by The Facebook screenshots up on the big screen.

Suffice to say, it brought me back to when I first joined, in the spring of 2004. It was such a simple site back then. No news feed, no wall, no photo sharing and no advertising. I loved The Facebook. It was the perfect time-killer.

Six years and 500 million users later, Facebook has evolved into a social operating system. I turn to Facebook for news. I turn to Facebook to check out what restaurants my friends like. I even share a picture of my life each day on Facebook. Yet, I loathe it. The site, which I coveted as a college student, now leaves me full of angst. How did it get this way?

Well, every few months Facebook reinvents itself. Zuckerberg and team come up with a new way to transform how we interact with the site and with each other. This usually sets off a firestorm by angry users who swear off Facebook but who then return to normal use within days and love the new feature (news feed, privacy changes and site layout are just a few examples).

To the best of my knowledge, Facebook doesn’t reach out to its users for opinions. Instead, they react through their blog and press releases when users band together in anger. So, how do they do it? How can a company and brand that’s so large make so many decisions without buy-in from their population? Do any of you out there have theories?

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