Tech giant tries to make some strides in friending communities across the globe
Overshadowed by its Cambridge Analytica mess, it might seem that Facebook’s ambitions are losing steam. But as the social media giant makes some strides in brining friendship back to people who have forgotten their real-world friends, it is also seeking to rebrand itself to consumers’ own long-term needs – and that is what will become increasingly necessary as the third-party verification given by Facebook to users ceases to be.
B ut the company has also adopted a number of odd tactics in turning the page. This week Facebook said that the logo on its Android app – reportedly of “Lin-Manuel Miranda” – had to be tweaked after research suggested people might not be able to differentiate between different versions of the app. On Wednesday it vowed to ditch the Facebook-branded version of Facebook Watch; instead the platform will be branded “Facebook”.
“Although we want to work with more publishers to support Facebook Watch, we will be using an ‘FB’ instead of the current Facebook Watch brand, which could give us more freedom with new content and the look of the home screen,” Alex Hardiman, a vice-president at Facebook, wrote in a blogpost.
All these measures seem to imply that what really matters to Facebook is what brand it can put across its service, rather than real-world areas it has struggled to deliver on. As WhatsApp has emerged as a serious competitor to Facebook Messenger, its logo has become, according to people who have designed it, an object of universally loathed ridicule. So much so that it is being talked about on Twitter in ways it rarely had been in the past, as Facebook, with almost 1.3 billion users around the world, struggles to keep up with an uncertain future that will include more regional players, more, and more personalised, real-world alternatives.
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Forget about trying to brand how Facebook wants us to think of the app. Forget about what Facebook’s emojis mean. Remember what Facebook’s logo means. It means yes, I am connected to so many people. But it also means that for all the criticism it has received in recent months, Facebook isn’t terribly concerned about other ways in which users may be experiencing the social network beyond a distant idea.
There is, of course, a sense that Facebook has recognised its own failings but I think it will only rediscover the service it once was if it addresses the concerns that, like him, we were concerned with for so long about using it for anything more than commercial purposes. Those issues do not exist today. But when they do I imagine most people – though perhaps not as many as they once were – will appreciate an operator who will be as clear about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour on the service.
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