Last.fm, iLike, Networked Blogs, Causes and any of the hundreds of third-party apps you may have incorporated into your Facebook Profile page are no longer there. As I wrote about last month, Facebook’s customizable profile experiment was short-lived even if its demise took over a year.
Before this weekend, if you added approved third-party applications to your Facebook profile, many would have the option of adding to your wall or as a profile tab. The default selection would be to your Boxes tab. Today, even the Boxes tab is missing the apps that you used / played with / were annoyed by over the past couple years. From NY times Quiz, to How big of a Cubs fan are you?, To Myflickr, finetune, and everything else under the sun: Gone. Granted, the Boxes tab on my profile used to run on and on and pretty certain that nobody ever checked it out (myself included). Now the Boxes tab shows nothing more than I’m allowed to display on my profile tabs: the Facebook proprietary applications “Video” “Photos” and tabs for “Links” I share, “Notes” I write or import from this blog via RSS, Events, and Questions. The Boxes column is much narrower and ads have returned.
It’s been fun taking advantage of Facebook’s more open experiments over the past couple years but now our Facebook profiles have returned to their original states as rather vanilla bulletin boards.
That said, if I do want to customize my online profile and incorporate apps and even add raw html… there’s always Myspace!
It’s been a year since Facebook went public with a Developer roadmap which signalled a shift away from third-party app integration and increased importance on the Home Page news feed. Last October, the Facebook home page news feed went real-time, significantly altering the user experience to focus primarily on the Home Page, as opposed to profiles or third-party applications.
The latest platform change “coming soon” is a bigger blow to the personalization of the profile page. In the past months, we’ve seen all kinds of irritating warnings that Facebook would soon strip application Profile Boxes and to move these boxes to the tab bar. Now, these tabs are the next casualty.
This is unfortunate in that it limits not only the personalization of ones profile but also the effectiveness of calls-to-action that benefit from users adding custom tabs to profiles as if they were virtual lawn signs. I proudly display a “No on 23” tab in my profile (direct link), so friends and anyone else who lands on my profile page can learn more about an important proposition on the California ballot next Tuesday. It’s alongside two other tabs that are “soon” to be pulled by Facebook: Goodreads and Last.fm — services I use to track the books I read and music I listen to (respectively). I don’t care (or know) if many visitors to my profile even notice these tabs or take interest, however, it adds value as it’s an intricate part of getting to know me. Sure, books and artists that I have “liked” are listed in my profile, but there is nothing live or temporal about that data other than when (in real-time) I click like and it reverberates through my network via the news feed for 24 hours or so.
I’m betting that you also like the ability to integrate 3rd-party applications and services into your Facebook experience and as tabs or boxes on your profile page. Again this is not a sudden occurrence, we were warned a year ago, and more recently applications which depended almost exclusively on the Facebook Platform, such as Causes and Zimride, have gone entirely standalone.
Does Facebook have something in mind to replace this experience or do we just have to learn to accept a more dumbed-down, walled-in Facebook from here on out? What’s next for Facebook application campaigns based on profile tab proliferation, such as those created by PopRule and others?