Facebook Faceoff

Former Facebook Social Design Evangelist Says Facebook Model Is ‘Self-Serving, Egocentric’

The Internet is the Wild Wild West, after all.
12 Former Facebook Social Design Evangelist Says Facebook Model Is Self Serving, Egocentric

Mr. Fisher. (LinkedIn)

Branch is billed as a curated discussion platform, but we’ve also found it to be an excellent tool for eavesdropping.

Today, Josh Miller–the founder of Branch who thinks San Francisco is ‘too nice‘–started a conversation on the platform entitled, “Houses, Schools, and Town Squares – Building Next Generation Social Products.” Several tech heavyweights chimed in to discuss a  metaphor coined by ex-Facebooker and current Path CEO Dave Morin that compares Facebook to a town square–prompting Eric Fisher, who wrote Facebook’s Social Design Guidelines to help you build great social experiences, to protest that the social network is actually “centered on individuals and their friends which is a very self-serving, egocentric model.”

The discussion started with this prompt:

Facebook has built the cities, they’ve built the town squares, and they’re more of a general social network, he said. Path, on the other hand, is more like the home, as if adding each friend is filling out your dinner table.

On Twitter, Mike Karnjanaprakorn–CEO and cofounder of Skillshare–added, “If Facebook built the cities and Path is building the houses, Skillshare is building the schools.”

Mr. Miller started a discussion about this approach to design on Branch, and Mr. Morin and Mr. Karnjanaprakorn both weighed in.

“The Internet is like the Wild Wild West. But over time, you can see certain infrastructures being put in place. AOL created the roads, Facebook created the Town Square, PayPal created the bank, Twitter created the newspaper, Path is creating the home, and Skillshare is creating the school,” said Mr. Karnjanaprakorn. “We still need a sheriff.”

Mr. Morin agreed. “I think Mike hit the metaphor on the head,” he said.

But then another voice chimed in. It was the voice of Mr. Fisher, whose former title at Facebook was “Social Design Evangelist.”

“On the contrary, Facebook is NOT a town square,” he wrote. “In fact there’s little sense of community at all. It’s centered on individuals and their friends which is a very self-serving, egocentric model that does little to help people actually work together, as would a town.”

Da-yum. That’s definitely a burn coming from someone a source says wrote Facebook’s social design guidelines.

It appears Mr. Fisher is building his own version of a town square, which is probably why he doesn’t like the idea of Facebook overtaking that moniker very much. His LinkedIn lists him as the founder of Townsquared, Inc., a “social platform that helps organizations grow niche communities.”

“It’s not like I don’t love it,” he clarified on Branch. “I’m just as needing of praise and self esteem as anyone else. But I do not define a “town square” this way and I believe something like Skillshare, for example, is among the many missing links.”

It’s no secret that “the tech-savvy crowd has grown tired of Facebook,” but it’s certainly interesting to see one of its ex-employees admit the whole model is “self-serving” and “egocentric.”

We can’t really blame Mr. Fisher. After all, Facebook is self-serving and egocentric. Plus, we’d be upset too if we cut out before making bank on the IPO.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com