It’s come to my attention that apparently Facebook is doing things again. Aside from claiming they’ll try to maybe keep tampering out of democracy, or buying up Giphy apparently, or that whole needing to use a Facebook account for their VR thing. This time, they think they can hatch their own little version of the personal web, while not doing that at all.
Currently in some kind of beta, this product of theirs I won’t mention the name of specifically, but I’ve sort of implied it in this post through a few contextual phrases, just seems a bit runny in execution. They claim that it’s not meant to be an old website thing, but also claim to want to follow that spirit. It’s a pretty shallow throwback attempt, and the one article about it on some random website I found by searching for “Facebook Geocities” seemed like it was trying to sell me on the idea.
Aside from the whole “run by a megacorp” thing, they say they have “unlimited creativity” or something like that. The first apparent thing is that the pages are stuck in a conveniently narrow phone-width rectangle, so they can be used with phones. In fact, it seems like they can only be built with an iPhone at the moment, which is weird, the idea of trying to express yourself while needing the closed iOS platform to do so. I don’t know that a very vertical rectangle would incubate a wide variety of ideas, and those are usually mobile things. Nothing against people who want their site to work on mobile, because that is a large percentage of modern web browsing, but I feel there are better ways.
The second is that these are more collages than websites. I won’t argue with someone who wants to make their whole website a collage if they want to, but this is more equivalent to scrapbooking, or those “moodboard” Tumblr posts. Again, nothing against scrapbooking or wanting to feel moods or something, but that seems to be about the extent what someone can do with this platform. They do have links to other collages as an option, and they try to attribute things, but so far it only seems to be on the random things pulled from GIF hosting websites that sometimes convert the GIFs into some kind of video format. Still, with the whole hard-sell on the “90s aesthetic”, it just feels like a shell of that kind of experience, with no teeth to it. It sort of feels like a stretched-out Instagram.
On the one thing that makes sense when wanting to do something like this, they at least don’t want there to be likes or shares or comments, just that someone’s going to link to their collage, which maybe the post on which they link it will get the social feedback. However, so I’ve heard, Facebook might be banning posts that contain actual personal website hosts on their social networks, such as this very host I’m using at the moment. If they’re actually scared that someone’s little personal site is a threat to them, that’s just silly.
This idea seems to be poached from the desire to break out of the social web, yet it’s powered by a major player in it. I don’t know if this would take off aside from trying to keep the “millennial” crowd, however that’s defined now, within their grasp. Of course, given that this is Facebook, they’ll want to monetize it somehow. I’m also eager to see how they handle their first DMCA crackdown and if that’s going to turn people off of it, or if people will just post more of that thing to spite them. As well, if anything’s been reiterated from when I’ve played Hypnospace Outlaw, something I feel captured the 90s web thing much more in-depth, it’s to treat corporations with suspicion and the question of “how do they make money from this”. I’m betting on the usual mix of ads and trackers.
I’ll just say that if you want to make a collage or a small info spot for something, make that in whatever medium you feel like, but if you actually want to break out of their shell and make a full-on website on the web, with links and all that usual web stuff, there are many resources available to learn how. You can even go with a simplistic entirely visual editor, because I don’t think a personal website should be limited to those who know their way around HTML. Also, find a good web host, possibly a free one to start with, but check how they do things before you set up shop. Maybe not Facebook’s little project here, or anyone who wants to use your site as a front for marketing very specific ads to very specific demographics. I just like to avoid Facebook as much as possible, and do what I can with regards to other megacorps alongside that effort. Recently I moved my review blog to my site, more out of frustration at using the editor at the previous place, but it seemed inevitable anyway.