Although I don’t particularly like Facebook, the way it works, the platform in general or the social component of it, I am forced to use it in order to communicate with a few (actually many) people on the internet.
If I am remiss in my updating and reading on Facebook, in a few days time, a person I barely know will come up to me and say, “did you see my link?” If my answer happened to be “No,” I would face immediate social ostracization, loss of network status and a potential removal from said person’s “buddy list.” Actually, Facebook reminds me somewhat of a dreadfully boring RPG in which you are constantly trying to gain experience to obtain a new level that does not exist.
Facebook dislike aside, this is the platform that two-thirds of the world has decided to utilize for the time being, so I will shut the fuck up.
The “killer app” for the Facebook platform that lead to their market dominance was, ironically enough, the ability to allow third-party developers to create applications for their closed platform. Although this sounds like a bum deal for the developer, they obtain something fantastic from the users that decide to use these applications: Information (for the record, the capital “I” denotes the type from which people can make money).
A Facebook app, when allowed, will allow the developer of the app access to your information, your contacts (so it can spam them), your pictures (I hope they aren’t embarrassing) and other content (that is just a little vague…):
In a certain sort of way, these applications are like reverse spam; they are titillatingly entitled marketing pilferers that people seek out in order to hand over their personal information. Facebook users are a damned fine source of accurate and up-to-date personal (read marketing) information.
This is an inexcusable digression from my point… People have been giving out their information for free to the wrong people since the creation of the idea of privacy (it was probably short pants, by the way).
My problem with Facebook apps (other than they steal your information) is that almost all of them are comprised of inane survey questions that lead to an inaccurate/stupid result that has nothing to do with yourself or the essence of your being.
Hey, I love a good survey. Especially surveys with multiple questions that internally test and verify the results for consistency prior to issuing a determination of a category. Unfortunately, Facebook surveys are comprised of the following three components:
The first component is a question. It is usually about your analogical relationship with some characters/symbols/etc. in the mainstream media . I am expecting the questions to eventually become direct advertising questions: (e.g. An ad during which of your favorite TV programs would most likely motivate you to purchase our lipstick?), but they have the slightest semblance of propriety at this time.
The second component is the quiz. This quiz is usually comprised of two to three leading questions that are obviously leaning toward one of the potential answers. It doesn’t really matter whether or not there are any well thought-out questions as any result will be broad and/or inaccurate. I created a quiz scenario that is not too far from the truth:
Quiz: Are you more like MacGyver or Rambo?
Question #1: Do you like guns? Answer choices: Yes or No
Question #2: If you were to get in a confrontation with someone, are you more likely to work it out using: Answer Choices: Guns or your Brain
Obviously, if you chose that you like guns and would be more likely to get out of a confrontation using a gun, you would be given the result that you were like Rambo. If you chose that you don’t like guns and would use your brain, then you would be told you are more like MacGyver.
If you chose either that you like guns and would use your head or that you dislike guns but would use one in a confrontation, the world may come to an end. Actually, it is more likely that the application would suffer some horrible error as it enters a recursive binary loop from which it could not escape–the world is unlikely to end due to Facebook, even though many in the media may disagree.
The third component of a Facebook survey is the results. Following the completion of the quiz, a Facebook app knows better than to immediately give you your results. That would be far too easy; you are a captive audience at this point with a deep desire to see if you are like one TV program or another. The app uses this mind-muddying anticipation/excitement to ask with whom you would like to share the application. This “sharing,” of course, means that it wants you to send an invitation to others in order to socially motivate them to use their marketing tool.
I took a screenshot of this, and I crossed-out the names and faces while showing how large and clear the “send to friends” option was in comparison to “continue to result:”
After the ten questions in this particular quiz (actually, the questions weren’t so bad, so I feel sorry to have used this app to make my example; nevertheless, I will venture onward), I found out I was like Heroes. If I was not like Heroes or Gossip Girl, I am sure that the only other choices would have been one of the three flavors of CSI, as there are no other shows on TV except these five.
Here is what it would have said if I had received CSI… “You belong in the original CSI: Just like Sin City, you like life hot and covered with bodily fluids to examine. You enjoy rehashing the same plot over-and-over with tiny changes that separate otherwise indistinguishable episodes from one another. In fact, they need another CSI show (#4) in order to have forensic scientists working day and night to determine the differences between episodes on the other CSI series. This fourth member of the CSI franchise is the series that you belong in. It would be set in Cincinnati with an aging cast of WKRP portraying scientists. You might be the guy that is good with computers or the cranky person in charge of data archiving, we haven’t decided yet.”
I would add that app…
After you get your awesome results, you are then given another opportunity to share it with other people in your “FaceStream” (this is a made-up name, but a better app would call your AJAX-y homepage with other people’s info something cool like the “LifeStream” or “River”). I chose not to do this, or spam other people with a quiz I made about myself in which I would be a willing accessory in obtaining their personal details:
At this point, you have received your awesome results and given away your valuable personal data; therefore, the survey is complete. As I don’t want the app to access my information in the future, I removed it while giving it helpful feedback and the score it deserved:(1)