Sunday, May 12, 2013

Facebook Trusted Contacts & Mother's Day Notification

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook rolled out a feature called Facebook 'Trusted Contacts'.  Instead of relying on security questions and two factor authentication, Facebook is saying that they can solve the problem by using social graph.  Facebook is thinking that our identities can be verified easier by sharing the secret codes with our Facebook friends.  They can forward the codes to us, and we can enter them to regain access to our Facebook account.

A neat idea on the paper.  I like the idea of password-less login.  But asking them to send me a secret code that they received just so that I didn't choose to pick my security question or enter mobile phone number?  For me, the pain of bothering someone to solve my forgotten password problem is greater than regaining access to my Facebook account.

What about this push notification that I received from Facebook Pages yesterday?

Push notification that I got from Facebook Pages yesterday.
Sorry, Facebook.  My mom got a phone call from me instead.

First of all, my blog page is the only active Facebook Page, and it is all about social media, product management and startup.  I haven't posted anything personal about my mom, nor my mom visits my blog page (I don't think she even knows I have a blog).  Somehow Facebook felt that it would be a good idea to post something because it's Mother's Day.  I think it would have been more convincing if it said "post something today; if you don't like to post today, hey you can always schedule your post!"

Second of all, I got this message as a push notification.  Unsolicited push notification is by definition spam.  Not a good way to encourage people to use more of Facebook.

Facebook has always been moving fast and breaking things.  That's what I like about Facebook.  They are not afraid of trying new things, seeing how users react, scrap the whole thing if the outlook is not promising, or forge ahead if they see opportunities.

But even for Facebook, the master of trying new things, is not as fast as 4-person startups.  Even with their engineering resource and well-disciplined teams, they cannot focus their energy on multiple fronts.

I'm not surprised at the rate that Facebook is churning out new duds.  I'm willing to bet that their rate of success hasn't really changed since they opened their door.  What has changed is the rate of evolving customer taste and the social network plumbing that enables faster dissemination of new information (think of memes of various kinds, PSY's a-billion-viewer YouTube hit, to name a few).

In some sense Facebook is falling victim of its own success.  Because of Mark Zuckerberg's proof by construction, Facebook, it is now easier to create viral hit, and even yet another viral medium.  Now people understand what they are capable of.

I haven't signed up for Facebook Trusted Contacts or ended up making Mother's Day post on my Facebook Page.  But I know that doesn't mean Facebook will give it up.  Maybe next year I will see my Mother's Day reminder with rose bouquet delivery option to my mom with custom Facebook invite message.  What about that as a feature request of 2013?