Last week Facebook raised the ire of the Internet by changing the email address displayed on users’ feed to a facebook.com address. The implication of this is if someone in my network was looking to get in touch with me and checked my feed for my email address, they’d see ynathans [@] facebook.com which I have never checked and don’t ever plan to check, rather than nathan [@] cybernex.net, my primary email address.
In the hullabaloo that followed, Facebook first insisted they had previously informed users of the change, then doubled down on the excuse, saying they could have made a better effort to inform users of the change. The conclusion seemingly was that Facebook was labeling the problem as a communication snafu, rather than it being a rotten decision to begin with.
With this move and their subsequent response, Facebook shows their true colors and reveals a deep underlying issue in their approach to their business, and most importantly, their customers. Without buy-in from their customers Facebook changed the way users are contacted by those in their network. Without permission. “But we informed our users of the change” they said. That they do not see that is a rotten thing to do to their users and to still be blind to that after a public outcry means their approach to their users is entirely off-kilter.
Not to be too melodramatic, but the way Facebook should be thinking about their users is that they have been entrusted with a sacred contract. People’s social interaction are a sacred thing and they should be treated as such. That means that every decision Facebook makes should be guided by a “Does this hold the sacredness of the trust that our users have placed in us in its proper place?” A decision that says “Let’s change the email address that users will see to a Facebook one because it increases our brand exposure” (or whatever the rotten justification they used) shows that Facebook’s own motivations override the sacredness of trust their users have placed in them.
There’s nothing wrong with building a business with revenue growth in mind. But it must be done in a way that puts customers first. Or you may ultimately find yourself without customers to betray.
- About the Author
Nathan Safran is a former Analyst at Forrester Research where he covered the Digital Home. While at Forrester, Nathan authored research studies on trends, attitudes and behaviors of consumers toward technology adoption and use.
Nathan has been quoted as a subject matter expert in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Fortune magazine. Currently, Nathan heads the Research Department at Conductor, Inc an SEO Technology Platform firm.
Nathan writes at exceljockey.com about the intersection of Business, Technology and Psychology. See the About page for more info. Follow Nathan on Twitter: @Nathan_Safran