Why isn't Facebook more searchable?

I’m taking Web Design this semester, and just like back in the day when I was a Film student, I find myself scrutinizing everything I view. Truthfully, I view Facebook a lot. I’m not really trying to figure out or divulge exactly how often, since I think I would be disappointed with myself for spending so much time on Facebook. In any case, Facebook is always updating itself, but I was puzzled to realize that through these updates it has made itself less searchable in some ways.

I realized this when I identified an information need by wanting to comment on an article my friend had posted several months ago about Decision Fatigue. (I like the idea of Decision Fatigue, but I think one danger is that you can use it to rationalize all kinds of things, like why I had wasabi seaweed and candy for dinner.) As is evident by the included hyperlink, I was able to find the article, but what I really wanted to do was let my friend know that I had thought of it again, and Facebook doesn’t make that kind of user need easy to satisfy.

In order to track down this post, I went to my friend’s profile page and scrolled for about a minute. That’s a really long time in internet time. Right now Facebook allows you to backtrack through a person’s posts by clicking a button labeled “Older Posts”, which you find by scrolling to the bottom of their profile page. Repeated clicking gives you chunks of previous posts in chronological order, which you then scroll through until you get to the post you want. If your friend (like my friend) posts multiple times a day, this is a time consuming process. It takes a lot more steps than I want it to.

One thing that would make this user need easier to meet is a calendar allowing users to view activity from certain days (kind of like on Livejournal! Please do not actually read my old livejournal. Except maybe the entry where my brother invents the Dada Pizzeria.) To be thorough, I also tried a keyword search using my friend’s first name and the terms “Decision Fatigue”, with no luck. What would also be helpful is some kind of advanced search that gives users the option to find posts by winnowing/drilling down to specify the name of a friend or page, or the type of post (media, link, status update…) and showing results within these parameters. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Facebook currently has no capacity for this kind of searching.

The silly thing about all of this is that Facebook used to have a feature that would have allowed me to find what I was looking for fairly quickly, in one or two steps. Does anyone remember when there was a “Links” button residing under a person’s profile picture, along with Friends, Photos, Wall, and so forth? Clicking it would bring you to all of the links a person had posted. It disappeared at some point, much to my dismay. (But for some reason the “Questions” button is still there? Who I ask, uses Questions on Facebook when you can just post something with a question mark at the end?)

Again, Facebook is always updating. Apparently there’s a new update coming out soon. I’m interested to see what the Timeline feature will do for users, and whether post searchability will play a part in Facebook updates to come. It would certainly be helpful for this user, and I think it would support the role Facebook is trying to play in users lives–instead of traveling elseweb and searching Google for “Decision Fatigue” I would have stayed inside Facebook and enhanced a Facebook connection.

This entry was posted in Searching, Web Design. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s