There were a number of responses to my post “Facebook is EVIL” that raised some legitimate issues that Facebook is-ahem-facing-that no other company on the planet has had to deal with due to its massive scale.
Several comments from people who are familiar with Facebok internally confirmed Patrick’s comments made in my original post that the email my wife received was mistakenly made in response to a bot issue.
That said, my wife would not have had nearly the strong reaction she had if Facebook had simply used a different tonality in its communications with her .
The language used in the email and the fact that it offered no recourse for resolution was, in my mind, inappropriate, irrespective of the massive scale problem. There is simply no excuse for treating customers poorly.
So, here are my suggestions that Facebook might incorporate into its business model, that may not solve the spammer/bot problem but it will at least make its customer base feel better about interacting with them:
- Like Disney, remember that while Facebook is a serious business for the company and its investors, it is always supposed to be something fun for its legitimate customers/users. The fact there are some bad actors among millions of good ones is no reason to treat everyone poorly. Receiving hostile email isn’t fun. If Facebook is viewed as a bad company, competitors can and will arise and people will go there.
- Simply change the tone of interaction from one of presumed guilt to one of presumed innocence. It costs nothing to do this.
- Give people a chance to act/react before slamming the door on them. For example, provide a notification to the suspect account/user with words to the effect of: “We are sorry but based upon your Facebook account activity, we believe you have violated X,Y,Z of Facebook’s code of ethics..blah blah. As a result, unfortunately your account is subject to deactivation. Before we take this regrettable action, we want to ensure we give you an opportunity to respond. Please fill out the enclosed form and submit it to tell us your side of the story…blah blah”.
- Build the cost of this process into the Facebook business model. Facebook isn’t public yet so this can be done with relative impunity at this point. Once it is public, it’s hard to add costs without a big hit to the stock. Providing great customer support is a cost of doing business.
- Look at using crowdsourcing/low cost labor to review and escalate credible requests.
I realize it’s a big problem but given Facebook’s valuation, it should have enough financial and human capital resources to come up with unique solutions to identify the riff raff without taking its frustrations out on its legitimate users.