How I Would Improve the Greatest Thing in the World (Not Sliced Bread)

I’ve been on Facebook for a long time. Not, Harvard student in 2004 long time, but a long enough time where I had to type thefacebook.com and actually be a college student with a college e-mail address to join. I’m not mentioning this as some really lame brag, but to illustrate how I’ve seen the site change (for better and worse) over the years.

When I joined it wasn’t something I looked at very much. A lot of my friends didn’t have it because it wasn’t that popular yet or their schools didn’t have it. Mostly I used it as the tool that it was originally designed for, that is if the movie The Social Network is to be believed. I’d think a girl was good looking in a class and I would see if she was single or not by looking her up on Facebook before making an awkward attempt at wooing her. Eventually, more of my friends signed up and it became less of a tool for stalking nubile young coeds and more for actually keeping in touch with friends who were away at other colleges.

Now it’s to the point where we can check Facebook anywhere as long as we have our phones. We chat with friends, we invite people to events and parties, we try to find out if this person we know is single or not, we capture every event we attend with uploaded photos and foursquare synching, we play stupid games, and we try to pimp out whatever creative thing we are trying to do to our friends. It has so many uses that Facebook seems like one of the more important tools modern man has, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.

Recently it was announced that Facebook and Skype would be teaming up so that we will soon be able to video-chat on Facebook. While this was more than likely a reaction to Google+ and their video-chatting capabilities, it’s still something I’ve thought they should be doing since Skype became somewhat popular. Here are 9 other (mostly small) things I think could improve Facebook for the better:

  • A limit to how many status updates a person can have in a 24 hour period1. This will decrease the amount of useless updates people post that no one wants to read. The highest this number should be is 5, but I’m thinking more like 3.
  • No one should be allowed to like their own statuses/replies or be allowed to type “lol” after anything they type2.
  • Tiers for friends. This will determine which posts you will see right when you first log in. Everyone has someone that they are friends with on Facebook that they don’t like much in real life. Whether it’s a family member, old school mate, or annoying co-worker this will enable you to rank their status updates as less important to you than the people you actually talk to and hang out with, while not offending them by declining their friend request. No one will have any way of finding out what tier they are to other people so no feelings can get hurt. Also, you should be able to change a person’s tier at any time.
  • Lower the character limit on posts. Twitter has it right, if you can’t say it in 140 characters maybe it’s not worth saying. I’m not saying facebook has to make it 140, but definitely lower than what it is now.
  • If the lower character limit is not adopted then a spell and grammar check that will not allow you to post your status if you have more than 3 incredibly obvious errors should definitely be implemented.
  • Anytime someone in high school decides to have a baby and keep it, their Facebook privileges are immediately revoked until the last child they had while in high school either graduates high school themselves, or turns 20 years old. Scaring kids with the threat of STDs, having them sign promises to God, and letting them see fellow teenagers get on TV shows because of their talents of having unprotected sex doesn’t seem to be working. If the religious right will continue to fight against the teaching of safe sex than maybe we can try something that doesn’t offend their moral codes. Also, if the teens keep their babies than this is one less thing they will be distracted by while they are trying to graduate high school while bobbing a baby on their knee.
  • You should be able to put individual words that, if included in someone’s status, won’t show up on your news feed. Example: people from Indianapolis who don’t care about the Colts would be able to put in the words Colts, Peyton, Manning, and ball and they will no longer have to avoid their Facebook on Sundays.
  • The ability to block all posts where one letter might is repeated more than twice in a row. That way we don’t have to read stuff like, “I’m soooooooo sleeeeeeeeepyyyyyyyy” on a daily basis.
  • Put a meter, similar to a password strength meter, near the status update bar. It will say one of 5 things: mundane, potentially offensive, passable, overuse of topic, interesting. Hopefully this educates people on how annoying they are often being3. Eventually, when the technology gets really great they can have more specific levels like: No one cares about your kids this much except you, praising Jesus/God/Allah or whoever on a status doesn’t make you pious only obnoxious, and please come up with an original thought and not re-post this chain letter bullshit about the troops or breast cancer or starving kids that always ends with the sentence, “I bet none of my friends will have the guts to re-post this.”

I’ll be anticipating my job offer from Mark Zuckerberg any day now.

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1. This does not include links/photos/videos that also get shared on the news feed.

2. Typing ‘lol’ after something you say is like adding a laugh track to your comments. Laugh tracks are only there to try and convince stupid people that something is funny that isn’t.

3. And for people who may want to say, “What about the stupid jokes you put as status updates.” First off, they are all hilarious. Second, there can be a joke version of this for people who aren’t as funny as me. The joke levels can be: unfunny, too soon, dark, obscure, completely funny. That gives us too levels of jokes that won’t work, two levels that will work with about half the people, and 1 level that should work with the vast majority (or as I like to call it, The Ryan Stuckey Level).

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