Reason Number 1,000,000 Not to Depend on Facebook: They’re Removing the Discussion Tab From Pages

I make no bones about my ongoing love/hate relationship with Facebook, but lately I have to say it’s veering more toward straight-up hatred. Is it because of their new “frictionless sharing,” you ask? Nope, although I’m not happy about that, of course. Is it because I can no longer admin or even monitor my org’s Facebook page from the iPhone app? No, although it’s annoying as hell and a total backslide in functionality. How about because now when you pull down to refresh a Facebook feed from the iPad app–be it a group or your own news feed–it automatically kicks you over to random YouTube videos? Like to the point that the app isn’t even usable anymore? Well, almost, but nope, that’s not the reason either.

It’s because I just learned that Facebook, in its infinite wisdom and care for what users want, just announced that they will be removing the discussion tab app from pages at the end of this month. From the Inside Facebook post explaining the upcoming change:

“Users still engaged with the app or that had important conversation on it in the past may be displeased to find their threads erased. Page admins who conducted customer service on Discussions or that had invested time into moderating threads might also be angry. At this time, Facebook doesn’t appear to offer any way to export content from the app before it’s removed.”

Does Facebook care that there are currently 22 million monthly active users of the app? Of course not. Do they care that companies may use the discussions tab for customer service? Or, in the case of association pages like the one I admin, that the discussion tab is a popular feature and not only frequently used for ongoing engagement but also a useful archive dating back three years? Hell no. Facebook says “The best way to encourage conversation and feedback is through posts and comments on your wall,” which, translated into non-Facebook lingo means that it’s better for them to have all activity take place on the wall so they can monetize that activity through sponsored stories or whatever. It doesn’t matter to Facebook that it’s much easier for people interested in ongoing discussions to follow an archived, threaded discussion format. Or that it’s much easier to have an actual discussion format, not Facebook’s ever-changing, secretly-algorithmed wall post format. What’s easy or useful for users is not Facebook’s concern; Facebook cares about Facebook. Period.

Which, for a free platform, is as it should be–it’s their platform, after all, and we all use it for free. But seriously–if you’re interested in having any say in the user experience of your members, users, fans, or whoever else you’re trying to engage with online, Facebook is not the place to be.

{ 2 comments }

Todd Carpenter October 5, 2011 at 2:20 pm

While we had the opposite results with FB’s discussion forums and deleted them from our pages more than a year ago, I agree that it’s risky to count on third parties like Facebook to provide platform you can entrust your community to. Stuff goes away, it changes, or gets stuffed with advertising that could hurt your own efforts.

Free isn’t free.

lisa December 3, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Do you think the reason has to do with censorship? I do.

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