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Facebook in 2013: The dud of the year

2013 for Facebook was a year of attempted innovations that mostly ended as a fail.

Ankit Tuteja | IBNLive.com@tutejankit

Updated:December 31, 2013, 4:55 PM IST
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Facebook in 2013: The dud of the year
2013 for Facebook was a year of attempted innovations that mostly ended as a fail.

New Delhi: Choosing the winner in a year that has just gone past isn't as difficult as identifying the loser. While the winner for me was a clear choice, the battle of the laggards has a few contenders.

To begin Samsung was leading in the race in my mind, but then the South Korean only didn't live up to what I expected it of but wasn't the great disappointment a dud would be. BlackBerry and Microsoft were also in the shortlist, but then there were not much expectations from them, so it wasn't exactly a let down. After all contenders were struck off the list, only Facebook remained and here's why.

It was the start of the year and Facebook introduced what it thought would change the way people search. The company introduced its new feature - Graph Search - to help its users search for people and places within the social network, and a bigger search bar was positioned at the top of each page. In no time, I got to access the feature and quite eagerly started making random searches. While initially it engaged and intrigued me, but over a period of time, I found myself losing interest.

Graph Search is still not as robust as web search and focuses more on phrases than random keywords, something takes the ease away from it. During my experience with Facebook Graph Search I also found the new feature ignoring some of the privacy settings and also overriding others.

The review period was the only time I made searches using this feature; the year has passed and I have no memory of people even talking about it during the year. The Graph Search feature, which the company calls the third pillar of Facebook ecosystem, was Facebook's first misfire of the year.

While there had been a raft of rumours for a long time that Facebook would introduce a Facebook phone this year, but pouring water on hopes, Facebook went against the tide and introduced an app for Android with the aim to take over Android's user interface on phones. The app was intended to bring Facebook content right to you, rather than require people to check apps on the device. While the app failed to woo most of the users in the first look, others were observed uninstalling the app in a week's time. What annoyed users the most was that the Home app seized the entire control and showed the Facebook content left, right and centre - with non-facebook apps hidden in the background. With the Home app installed, it appears as if it belongs to someone obsessed with Facebook.

Taking a page from Twitter, Facebook introduced hashtags to identify topics being discussed and allow users to search for them. While people are seen using hashtags on Facebook, but a few click on hashtags on Facebook to visit posts related to a particular hashtag. Hashtags are used on Facebook, but not as predominantly as they are used on Twitter.

With the view to improve users' experience, Facebook introduced a new feature to allow users create shared photo albums, thereby allowing multiple users to upload photos to them. The feature has been widely rolled out, and its usage in proportion to the number of users is very low.

Another wrong move that backfired Facebook was the introduction of "Embedded posts". Taking a cue from Twitter, Facebook allowed its users to embed posts, but the catch here is that only posts which are set to public can only be embedded. Unlike Twitter, where tweets are easily embeddable, the restricted-use of embed feature on Facebook makes it of low utility.

2013 for Facebook was a year of attempted innovations that mostly ended as a #fail.

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