Facebook: Fix Your Terrible Message System

Facebook is great at connecting people who don’t want to be connected.  It suggests new friends, and reminds you to connect with all the people you friended out of guilt rather than a real, enjoyable connection.  What’s terrible is when you set up your privacy settings so that you’re connected to a person and they aren’t supposed to interact with you, but they figure out a way to.

Facebook once did this to me by having a distant relation whom I never see connect with me.  I put this person, whom we’ll call Jane, in my “Cone of Ignorance” list, where I’m connected to you but you really can’t do much with me.  However, Jane could still send me messages.

One day, Jane sends me and twenty other people a message, asking for materials for a scrapbooking project. Why she asked me, I don’t know.  I don’t scrapbook.  I’m not crafty.  I didn’t even know anything about the subject of said scrapbook.  However, I was soon on the deluge of messages going back and forth from Jane and her friends saying “OMG wat a gr8 idea!” and “I can send you some pictures of this!”

Why was I stuck seeing all of these messages?  Because when you reply to a message with multiple recipients on Facebook, you reply to everyone.  There is no reply to sender or reply to just one person, you always reply to everyone.  Even worse, there’s no way to stop the other messages from coming to you.  All these people, just trying to help Jane, were inadvertently flooding all these people’s inboxes.

As you can imagine, I not happy to be a part of this endless chain.  Eventually, I had to unfriend Jane to escape the torrent of pointless and unrelated messages.  Scrapbook be damned, I need my online sanity.

I suppose it should be no surprise that Facebook made it so when you a friend sends a message to you and several other people, you can only reply to everyone, not just the individual who sent the message.  It’s a horrible way to force people to be open and nice.  Sadly, Jane wasn’t trying to flood my inbox or drive me nuts, she was just trying to drum up help for her project.  If I was able to stop said messages from coming in,I would never had to unfriend her.  Her good intentions shouldn’t be ruined by Facebook’s failing to create a better messaging system.

There’s a difference between reply and reply all.  However, the programmers over at Facebook never seemed to figure this out, or just don’t care.  People need to know they can send messages to one person in confidence when replying to a message.  It’s something email has been able to do for decades.

Facebook, get it together, or I’ll start finding your staff members and include them on the scrapbooking thread.

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