The Pitfalls Of Facebook Dependency

By Julie D. Andrews 

There is a lesson to be learned from reports earlier this week about certain Facebook social reader applications shedding users by the thousands: Don’t invest in a product or develop one just on the basis of popularity on Facebook. That’s because there’s a master magician pulling the strings, or, in this case, directing the flow of traffic, and that is the social network itself.

Facebook controls which applications and content creators have traffic funneled to them and how much is doled out, TechCrunch pointed out, adding that the social network’s constant experimenting with and changing of modules was the probable culprit of the current decline in social reader apps — not any sort of disdain or backlash by users to auto-sharing.

Previously, Facebook was directing traffic to social reader apps. But in April, it replaced the recently read articles box with a trending articles box (did it get that idea from Twitter?), which displays a smaller number of articles and is harder for the eye to spot.

The Washington Post weighed in with a similar viewpoint, which some in the commenting peanut gallery were quick to dispute: Ryan Kellett, the newspaper’s engagement producer, sent the following tweet:

Social reader “collapse” is b/c of evolving FB modules. Before: “double-double,” 4-5 stories down in a list, w/ friend icon – drove growth.

How can Facebook accurately track anything when it is constantly changing — is this a pitfall of the “move fast and break things” model — but then again, such a model doesn’t wait for market analysis results to make decisions, does it?

Readers, can there be such a thing as moving too quickly when making changes to Facebook and, by extension, the apps that depend on it?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.