Update: Due to heavy controversy and after only 24 hours, Facebook has quietly removed the new feature for now.
“With all tests, some get released as full products, others don’t,” the company said as reported today by @CNET.
I previously talked about the “Facebookitis epidemic“. Well, if its botched IPO isn’t enough of a sign, the diagnosis is confirming itself by the social network’s latest move.
The epidemic is characterized by a user fatigue. Facebook’s genius has so far been to get people to do online what they already do in real life. But even with the deep changes it effected on our lives, if Facebook now assembles all the people we already know in real life: not only your friends but your boss, your ex, your third degree cousin and that shady character from high school; the point starts to become moot. Interest lists, as with any list feature in any social network, have not been able to win over users’ laziness.
Facebook has thus just launched a new service called “Find Friends Nearby” this new service seems to have two main objectives:
- See who from your friends is nearby -read- increase Facebook’s relevance by bridging offline activity
- Offer opportunities to meet new people instead of hanging around with people you already know… and get bored and leave -read- treat the serious case of Facebookitis it’s currently experiencing
In order to try the new feature, you need to go to http://facebook.com/ffn to activate and give the proper authorizations. I’ve taken a look at the service this morning and, as you can see in the picture, it is clearly still missing critical mass: none of my friends nearby seemed to have activated the feature, neither did anybody in the usually very connected San Diego neighborhood I was in. I will keep checking and report back.
What other objectives do you think Facebook is trying to achieve with this new feature? Can you think of new marketing opportunities this feature could afford? Most importantly, will you use the feature?
Let me know in the comments section below.