How Teenagers Would Re-invent Facebook

I’d like to ask a favor — This week I am working with a special group of teenagers attending a class on Media Literacy.  Isn’t that cool?  With your help, I want to demonstrate in a very living and powerful experiment how blogging and social media can allow them to connect with wonderful people from all over the world.

Below, they have offered their free content for you about ideas they have to re-make Facebook. In exchange, could you please tweet this article and write a comment so the kids can see the number of people who have connected with them?

Thank you!  And now here is how our teenagers would re-invent Facebook if they ruled the world. I think you’re going to enjoy this …

“There are too many companies trying to get us to “like” their pages. Before you know it, there’s TONS of likes on your profile (without really meaning to have as many likes.) And, once you like them, the company’s wall posts come up on my News Feed! (That’s NOT what I signed up for.) Worst of all, they’re getting PAID when you like their the banner ads.  They trick you into thinking it’s fine to like the company when you pay them to know everything about you.”

— Jordan Brown

“If I could change one thing about Facebook to make it much more fun and useful, I would add video chat/conferencing. Adding the ability to see your friends face to face at any time would be very fun, and if that friend lived out of state or country it would be a way to see them face to face.  This would also make job interviews or business transactions much easier as long as you are friends on Facebook. Of course, there are obvious alternatives such as Skype or even Gmail video chat, but many people don’t use Skype and having the video chat available on Facebook would make it simple and easy.”
— Nathan Glandon

“They need to change their layout less often. Once every few months Facebook changes its layout which causes confusion with the users, makes everyone wish for the old layout, and requires the users to spend additional time learning the new layout. One of the reasons that Facebook changes its layout so often is to make sure the users spend time on Facebook learning the new system. Though if the Facebook operators have not noticed, most users are pretty much addicted anyway and do not need the new layouts as an excuse to spend time on Facebook.”

— Nicole Gonzalez

“If Facebook created a page (kind of similar to a “like” page) for all schools, you could automatically join this page when you enter a new school. Because social media is overtaking e-mail, newsletters, and even some websites it would be a very helpful tool for students because a huge majority of students always check their Facebook at night and not always there e-mail, etc.  On a school page, we are just a click away from seeing who is in what class, when the big game is, and what homework is due tomorrow.”

— Savanna Horne

“Facebook has many flaws but what would add a lot of value would be voice and video chat — something that would add to the social interaction that one could experience while being on the website.  Whether parents and trying to communicate with their college kids or old friends trying to catch up, I think this would be a marvelous idea.”

— Daniel van der Merwe

By clicking on a friend to chat, you would have the option to video chat. The video would take place in the chat bubble. You could change your effects to distort your face or put up a background photo. You could also have a group meeting and go to your group’s page and see everyone there.”

— Samantha Horne

“Facebook would be much more useful if you could see your RSS feeds as Facebook posts.  It would be nice because you wouldn’t have to spend time searching for your favorite blog’s page on Facebook only to find out that the blog doesn’t have a Facebook page. Although many people read their RSS feeds through Gmail, I think a lot of people prefer scrolling through the blog-like format of Facebook instead of clicking on 50 two-sentence RSS emails.   Also, a one-time preference not to see any game or application posts, and a similar preference not to post about games or applications would make it much less annoying to play games on Facebook. You wouldn’t have to constantly tell the game that no, you don’t want premium benefits for making your friends bored.”

— Elizabeth Ham

“Facebook sends you messages at the end of every week to show you how many times you have been on in the last week. This information seems to edge the user into wanting to get on more often, or just saying “I haven’t been on in a while.” This is a way of boosting the amount Facebook user time. The more time, the more advertising. These facts benefit Facebook but is a nuisance to the user.”

— Justin Brown

“I would enjoy the Facebook experience more if I was not worried that different fun games would hack into my profile and send viruses out to my friends and post things on my status.”

— Garret Hudson

“I would add an optional feature that sends you a notification whenever someone looks at your profile. It will allow users to be more aware of who is paying attention to them.”

— Nick Jernigan

“I would add a feature to Facebook that would allow members to share music easily. It would be another tab that every profile would have and you could listen to any of your friends music playlists. It wouldn’t be illegal piracy because no one would download the songs. It would be a free music library that anyone on Facebook could listen to or copy to their own playlists.”

— Rachel Gorman

“I created an account for the sole purpose of entering a contest. I couldn’t seem to figure out how to access certain parts of my personal information and when I actually tried to enter the contest, I couldn’t. These issues may have very simple solutions that I simply didn’t take the time to find, but I haven’t ever bothered to go back.”

— Jacob Fields

“Facebook apps should not be allowed to access my personal information. When I go to a new a app it always says “permission to access your account, friends, and pictures. To continue hit allow to stop hit deny.” If you click allow, they can access whatever you post, your friends, and they can even post stuff. Facebook needs to do away with this.”

— Bailey Jones

Pretty good feedback I would say.  What do you think? Talk back to the kids in the comment section!


All posts

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree with the first comment– I hate it when I “like” something and then it takes over my news feed. My current beef is with my favorite sports team–I’m all for repping them on my page, but I don’t need to have constant updates on what they’re doing!

  • Really interesting how many times the notion of video came up. I really need stop procrastinating learning video.

  • I like the video chat ideas. That’s something I know a lot of people would love to have as a feature and it wouldn’t surprise me if that happened within the next year.

    The RSS into Facebook looks interesting. Would have a sort of “Rockmelt” feel to it as far as organizing feeds. It could definitely work as long as your RSS postings didn’t interfere with showing up on other people’s news feeds (you know, unless you shared it and made that post public).

    It seems like a common theme is the layout. People want less change and less stuff cluttering up the news feed. I am definitely on board with those ideas.

  • Tantell1

    Music sharing, video chat, privacy concerns. Seems like some great suggestions. Good work and great ideas.

  • Very perceptive observations and comments!

  • Michelle

    Great observations and comments. I think the video-chat idea is probably coming down the road. And by the time these teenagers graduate college there is no telling about the capabilities and ideas that you they will put into reality!

  • Wow! I love all your comments and ideas! I’m going to respond to Elizabeth’s, specifically, though. I really love this idea, Elizabeth. I agree – it would be a nice feature to have all your RSS feeds in one place – the same place we are most frequently, and in this case we’re talking about Facebook. Additionally, I get so frustrated with the posts that come along with third-party apps and games – so agree it would make my Facebook experience more user-friendly!

    Enjoy your class project! You’ve got the best teacher in the world!

  • You all have some great ideas, and I am sure that your voices will be heard. Sometimes it is frustrating when things change on FB, but sometimes it is a great thing! The video chatting I could easily see happening.

    I especially like Ms. Horne’s suggestion about making pages for schools. That would be a great tool and something they can do now. If yours doesn’t have one, ask them to!

  • Amy Howell

    Wow! Mark you have a bunch of genius on your hands! Fab ideas! I love the video idea & also not changing the format to reduce confusion! These students are wonderful!

  • Very valuable insights. I’m particularly intrigued by the takes on Facebook’s business model (who gets money from whom and for what) and intellectual property (streaming music is free as long as you don’t download it, right?). Also pleased to see video gaining ground as an “of course” tool/feature of all things Web.

  • BradLovettmarketing

    Great insights from the students! I’m all for the video chat. Even if I use Skype, it would make it that much easier if there was a Facebook video chat. Know what you mean about the “likes”; the things that end up in your newsfeed can get to be a bit much.

  • Anonymous

    Lesson on connecting – find a powerful seed. Students of Mark – all you need is to identify a stronger influencer – Mark is exactly that for many reasons (compelling information, engaging, personal, networker, etc.)

  • Theo

    I think you have all hit the nail on the head. Get rid of the marketing annoyances! One interesting modification on the “Notice when someone accesses your profile” idea, would be you could request this notice, and when someone wants to see your profile, they could agree to let you see the notice, or not (if not, then they don’t get to see your profile). This adds a 2 way privacy option where both parties have to agree. After all, as much as you would like to see who is accessing your profile, I am certain businesses with pages would want that even more, and you should be able to decide if you want to give it to them.

  • RaynaNyc

    Great post, and found your ideas really insightful. Curious about your thoughts about using Facebook on your mobile — where you can easily conduct video chats — next post, maybe:) A few comments:

    @Jordan Brown — completely agree. Companies should stop focusing on number of likes and instead on delighting people with shopping offers, apps, great content, and customer service.

    @Nicole Gonzalez — Ever feel like you’re the guinea pig for Facebook’s big social experiment? Too many changes and still the user interface and experience is not great.

    @Justin Brown — like your idea! Have you ever checked out It is a great little tool for Twitter and Facebook Streams that turn all your posts for a day (and those of your friends) into a digital paper so you can read like a newsletter or blog, and then it sends it to you.

  • Wow…what a great group of smart teenagers! Looks like they want more sharing and stronger personal connections, but less interruptions from brands and advertising. It’s going to be a tough world for marketers out there~

  • JenniferStraub

    I was surprised to see several comments relating to video chatting! I hadn’t thought of this before, but what a wonderful idea. I recently graduated college and often use Facebook Chat to stay connected with my college friends who are now spread throughout the US. Video chatting would be much better way to say hello!

  • Interestingly, none of them said, get rid of it. Their depth of knowledge and suggestions makes it rather clear that it is ingrained in their way of life.

    When is the IPO?

    Nice work again Mark, always giving. Glad to help.

  • It’s amazing how the obvious can, at most times, be overlooked. Facebook needs to start recruiting from this high school!

  • Some very good ideas from a demographic that is all to often ignored.

  • RE: They need to change their layout less often. : This is a very good point. Most facebook users can hardly pry themselves away from it for more than a couple of hours a day. Changing the layout to keep users engaged seems like a waste of resources.

  • Great comments here. My take away is that these students are looking for others including companies should respect their friends. Really like the video chap option although approaching the dreaded “fully-integrated-end-to-end-solution.”

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  • Daphne

    Some very interesting suggestions. I particularly agree with the point made by Bailey – I don’t use as many apps as I might if the access to my details was more restricted.

  • I am very impressed! The students have really thought about the qualities and shortcomings of facebook. Congratulations to all of you. This sounds like a very practical and useful project you are experiencing. I know you’ll learn a lot. Mark would be a fabulous teacher, I’m sure. He’s a great blogger!

  • Really liked idea of College/School page on Fb – Savanna Horne, Sharing music playlists (I hate to do that myself :P) by Rachel Gorman, And Yes Fb should have video/audio chat/conferencing option.
    If it can also add a Twitter Tab, a Tab for your WordPress/Blogspot and a YouTube tab 🙂

    Amazing ideas #superlike

  • Really liked idea of College/School page on Fb – Savanna Horne, Sharing music playlists (I hate to do that myself :P) by Rachel Gorman, And Yes Fb should have video/audio chat/conferencing option.
    If it can also add a Twitter Tab, a Tab for your WordPress/Blogspot and a YouTube tab 🙂

    Amazing ideas #superlike

  • J scott

    Hi Mark – Where did you find these smart cookies? And where do you find all these retro style images for you blogs? They are priceless! Love the pink mini dress with the black polka dots!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Jordan, Nathan, Nicole, Savanna, Daniel, Samantha, Elizabeth, Justin, Nick, Rachel, Jacob and Bailey for sharing your ideas, thoughts and views on how you “would re-invent Facebook.”

    I’m struck by how your words are a reflection of my experiences with Facebook.

    You have made a huge contribution and impact on me, thank you!

  • I am so with you on this one. That is one of the things I hope to take a more active role with in the next few months.

  • All suggestions are great. The main problem I have with FB is their never-ending changes. Just when you think you’re used to the FB layout, FB changes it, and not for the better. Great blog posting!

  • Not a big fan of Facebook myself, we do need something similar to it, but we also need to be able to control and have choices over who stores and controls our personal data. I’d love to see something like Facebook, but in a more open and distributed format. (Hope that make sense.)

    Really interesting to hear the views of actual teenagers. Really liked the suggestions and the commentary!

  • Wow. So interesting to hear what you guys would like for Facebook to improve. Thank you for those insights!

    Savanna, I found your idea about a school page so interesting. I would like to know this: Do the school websites not include social functions that allow you to connect, chat, and post or find latest information? Or do they, and you would find it easier to have all those functions incorporated in a Facebook school page? If you had both, I’m assuming you would prefer Facebook? Because it’s all in one place? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Hope you’re all having fun in Mark’s class this week. Listen carefully, he’s a smart guy 🙂

  • Great post and Facebook is always a hot discussion point.

    I could go down the list and reply to all of the kids here, but I would rather say this to all of them.

    Ask yourself this question. Facebook is a business, first and foremost. What business are they in?

    Social Media? Nope
    Website (advertisements)? Nope

    Whoever said that they are in the data mining business, give that person a cookie.

    Facebook has infiltrated our lives. They collect our personal information we put on their site. They record all of our friends, and their friends. The track what Facebook pages we visit, what links we share, what mood we are in. They have databases of information about what websites we have “liked” and which websites we have logged into with their Facebook Connect authentication.

    Back in the day, everyone was worried that the government had too much information on each of us. Just look at what Facebook has on us now?

  • Great ideas, I particularly like the video chat idea.

  • Great ideas, I particularly like the video chat suggestion.

  • ShoeChick

    Very smart ideas! I like the video chatting, the point about changing layout less often and the idea of receiving notification at the end of the week letting me know how often I was on Facebook. Great job!

  • Mark, when people, less than half the age of the game changers from many years ago, have such great insight and feedback I can’t help but think how exciting the future will be. I hope there is one message these kids get loud and clear. Each and everyone of them has an opportunity to play a very important role in this world. I hope they take advantage of this opportunity and I hope big business is listening because they make alot of sense in a very simple way. Something that may be missing in business today.

  • Mark B

    With regards to those who suggested video/voice chat, Facebook actually integrates with Skype, so it kinda already does have voice/video chat as an option, but you (and your friends) need to have Skype to use this. Although that said, having video/voice on Facebook chat without Skype would be very useful.

  • Mark B

    That is very true.

    Do you think, maybe, governments will try to regulate Facebook? Try to get Facebook to hand over information about users?

  • Great ideas!

    @Jordan Brown I agree that a lot of companies try to trick you into”liking” their page, it should be a place for brand advocates to talk about and interact with the company. What’s the point of how many “likes” you have if they have no real value. I am confused about “Worst of all, they’re getting PAID when you like their the banner ads. They trick you into thinking it’s fine to like the company when you pay them to know everything about you.” Could you expand on this one a bit, how are they getting paid for you liking their ads?

    @Nathan Glandon @Daniel van der Merwe @Samantha Horne Love the idea of video chat! Maybe skype partnership?

    @Savanna Horne Integrating it with school’s and class schedules is a good idea! What an easy and a cool way to meet new people in your class. Have a feeling that some school’s might have some concerns with lack of control though, but would be really cool.

  • These are all really good insights!!

    I think what struck me most is Jordan Brown’s — ““There are too many companies trying to get us to “like” their pages.”

    Manipulation?. Desperation? Boo to those brands. Less selling, more fun! Kudos to those doing it right. It seems like brands need to start showing why, rather than just showing up. If not that, at least changing up the content across platforms…

    On another note, the video chat is such a good idea!

    What a great high school project and good luck to all of you!


  • I’ve read a number of predictions about paid content growing as a biz-model this year. I wonder how well a fee-based version of facebook would go over… Now that we know about all the privacy-woes with advertising and apps on facebook, do you think people would sign up if they knew their information was secure? Would you pay?

    I’m thinking that I would. I’m also curious to see how Diaspora unfolds.

  • These kids got it right.

  • I really love what Bailey Jones wrote about accessing personal info. It is for that reason that I do not use many apps. I don’t really care to see that information in my feed about my friends either, such as what games my friends are playing or who they are answering questions about. Super Annoying!

  • Dear Students,
    You have great ideas. Keep it up! Whether it’s Facebook or any other media or social network, keep the pressure on them, let ’em know what you like or dislike, give them suggestions, be demanding! And make sure that they all know that anyone who ignores your wishes will be summarily IGNORED AND ABANDONED. Don’t reward any of the undeserving with your time and attention.

    You are all well on your way to being well-informed, mature media consumers. (Not if we could just get most adults on that program.) Best wishes and carry on!

  • Great thoughts, guys. I see no reason why you shouldn’t keep pushing your thoughts out there. Facebook will only continue to grow if your generation finds it meaningful. If you can’t find any takers for your ideas, consider teaming up to build something you’d like to see. I’d love to see what the next generation of innovators is already dreaming up based on this sneak peek.

    It’s interesting to note there were several requests for video chat service. I anticipate this will come to Facebook at some point – horror stories of Chatroulette notwithstanding. I wonder about the eventual hue and cry for parental control over something like that feature, but I do think it will come.

    Regarding Savanna’s idea, I’m kind of shocked the school page feature doesn’t already exist considering Facebook’s origin. I imagine the team decided to leave it up to each school on how they’d handle networking. In theory, the new groups feature could do it, but it’s a bit clumsy for that purpose.

    I really like Elizabeth’s thoughts on RSS feed. The Networked Blogs feature never seems to work properly for me. Adding a feature like the Google Reader would certainly add fuel to the Google/Facebook rivalry, but I think it is a Google-type feature Facebook would benefit greatly by adding.

    Keep thinking up ideas, guys. And then, go make ’em real. I’ll happily cheer you on.

  • Very interesting post! I love this round-up. I seem some concerns that have been expressed before, such as privacy issues (such as Jordan’s comment about Likes) and the near-constant changes to the Facebook UI. I also think Elizabeth’s RSS comment is interesting. Facebook would love to get people reading all their blogs through Facebook.

    The most interesting thing to me is how many of the students mentioned video chatting. It’s fascinating that they’d like to see more and easier video chatting. With all the talk and concern about students having less face-to-face time and interacting through text, these students want face-to-face online interaction with friends. I think this is predictive. We’ll see it on Facebook and mobile.

  • Some good ideas here- video chat could bring all the best of Google Chat and Skype to facebook and the note that facebook should change its layout less often is a great one.

    I’m willing to be there were meetings at the facebook offices where they insisted on changing the layout more often to appeal to “the younger demographic.” They should have gone straight to you guys- keep up the good work!

  • Aron

    Very interesting feedback. Facebook is still the infancy of “social media” and the kids, as the next generation users, should set the bar. I know that for my new project, we are having high school and college students help us create our platform and marketing as we want them to use it. More companies should solicit feedback like you have.

  • Georgesisneros

    Awesome feedback! I’m launching a new Social Media site at the end of February and I have printed this blog post to discuss with my partners. THANK YOU! I especially liked Nick and Nicole’s suggestions.

    Keep an eye out for It’s a website I have designed to give people a place to work on their goals and Life Lists (Bucket Lists). “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” Dr. Robert Schuller

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  • Elizabeth Ham

    Part of the idea was that the RSS’s would just show on your page- like Gmail but in Facebook’s quick format.

  • Elizabeth Ham

    Thanks! I’ll definitely enjoy it!

  • Great ideas! I love that you asked your students this question too.
    I totally agree with Bailey Jones about the apps and games – I really don’t need to know details of the games and scores my friends are playing. I find that so annoying.
    Video chatting would be a good addition – depending on how they did it. I’ve been losing interest in fb as it’s got more and more commercial and invasive.

    Nice work!

  • This is an interesting post Mark (and that does sound like a fun course)

    First, I could it interesting that one of the major requests was for the integration of video chat.

    Now, what would be really amazing is if Facebook answered this comments.

    Josh Muirhead

  • Gotcha, that makes a lot of sense. Would be pretty cool!

  • Makes you wonder what Facebook features would look like if Mark Zuckerberg was not 26, but, say, 56, no?

  • I’m really speechless by the great support and advice you’re providing. Can’t wait to show it to the class. I’m so fortunate to have all of you in the community. Thank you!

  • These kids have some great ideas. Many of them talked about integrating Skype — wasn’t that supposed to be happening? For a week or so, it seemed to be all of the rave on the social networks and then it just died away.

  • As someone who speaks and blogs and works around Millennials and Gen-Y, [this is nothing new to me but] very interesting and fascinating to see.

    What was the setting and age group you were working with here?

  • Anonymous

    If i were to changed facebook, i will changed the type on games installed. i will make it more high tech.

  • Very interesting posts. The business angle is key for me as I work for a B2B marketing agency in London ( I do not recommend our clients use Facebook at the moment as Facebook is a very personal site, and people may not be open to the idea of big businesses trying to talk to them. These comments from your teenagers show that view point is right.

    I’m pleased they are aware of the need to protect their personal information, and they all seem pretty switched on to marketing and advertising efforts from companies.

    Keep up the interesting discussion!


  • I love these points. Just goes to show what great ideas teenagers have. Sadly, I think that 50 % of the suggestions are not do-able for “privacy” reasons. (I know, that sounds ridiculous when we talk about Facebook 🙂 Also, another point is that the technical infrastructure for video chat is probably difficult to achieve considering that FB has 500 Mio users. (600 Mio if we believe recent rumors.) And not to forget, Facebook is a business first and foremost not always with the user’s best interest at heart. Sadly.

    I love the ideas the kids put out there. Awesome stuff. And since this is all about being international, let me wave *hi* from London 😉

  • Tara

    I think all the ideas are great except one…”see who has visited my page” I think it would prevent many people from clicking on individual’s pages. There is a sense of voyeurism with FB and it’s fun to click on people’s pages you haven’t heard from or don’t make it to the newsfeed and see what they are up to, but I would do it a lot less if I knew they were notified everytime.

  • I’m with Jordan 100%. ALL of my clients are so concerned by how many “fans” they have on their page that I feel more of my time is spent doing “audience development” than audience engagement. I work to get them to realize that if you take the time and generate good content, the numbers will grow on their own. You can’t force feed it. Or you can and it will be met with dislike.

    thanks for sharing the insight – I’m sure it’s a fun group to work with.

  • What a great focus group for facebook. The comment about liking pages, and their newsfeed becoming littered with marketing messages is one a lot of organizations can learn from.

  • Anonymous

    Nathan and Daniel – There are apps for FB that solve the video chat problem. Take a look at Clobby. I use it for my business’ FB Page so I can chat from that Page with clients. There’s a video option. I’m not sure if it can be installed on your personal profile or not, but worth checking into.

  • I think the teen are onto something with the idea of video and audio chat….seems to be the “In” thing right now….according to my 13 y/o who keeps begging for a camera for the computer..

    Little does she now, there is one somewhere around here…

  • Anonymous

    A good thing that Teenagers can learn is the figure out the difference between interacting with FaceBook for your close friends and with the rest of the world (potential employers, companies, parents, grandparents etc)

    There are so many FB Fails out there that teenagers must learn about it and keep some information to themselves or to share those experiences in person, specially if that information can be harmful in the future. (drunk pictures, breaking the law, comments about teachers or employers and the like)

  • Anonymous

    Some of these are really amazing suggestions. Whilst I was waiting for the page to load (from where the Internet is not super high speed in Australia) I was thinking about what I would change (I’m only 20!) and I’m glad other people have similar ideas of changes they’d like to see.

    I too would like to see facebook become more an ‘all round’ multi-media client. Including voice chat (once they get the current chat system a little bit more stable). I’d also like to be able to include RSS feeds of my favourite websites/blogs into my newsfeed and have more control over who was in my newsfeed.

    Great suggestions and I hope someone does read some of them!
    – Nicole

  • Some great suggestions here. I hope Mark Z and the team are listening to you !
    The stand out suggestions to me are sharing music – as this could potentially give Facebook an income stream that they definitely need. After all, if something like Spotifty Premium was part of Facebook they’d probably be onto a winner.

    The other thing I like is the video chat / skype-like suggestion for Facebook. All the people I really like to Skype with are contained in my Facebook profile. So that seems a perfect place to get in touch rather than having to open another programme.

    Good luck with your work !

  • An integration of facebook with facetime so you could videochat with you friends using your Iphone would be cool.

  • Ages range from 7th grade to 12th grade. Thanks for your input!

  • This is already happening of course. The Federal government is examining Internet regulation and has already subpoenaed private files for the Wikileaks case from the major social media platforms.

  • What a smart group of students! Very insightful post. I agree with many of their comments especially the last one from Bailey. That message about granting access has stopped me every single time for including an app on my FB account. It’s too bad because many have the potential to be useful (i.e., BranchOut).

    To Justin, that information is available to users with business pages. I am an admin for a few business accounts (I post on behalf of businesses who dont have the time or available staff to manage their FB accounts themselves) and we receive weekly updates. There is quite a bit of data available. It is helpful because for brands, there is a fine line between being engaging and being noise. Brands want you to ‘like’ them but they never want to cause you to ‘hide’ them. Some succeed at this and some don’t :).

  • Really enjoyed reading everyone’s perspectives. I think you’re right, video chat would be great, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook introduces that functionality at some point. And I also agree with @Bailey…it’s incredibly irritating to have to give up so much personal information just to use an app. Good luck on your project!

  • We should definitely be aware of the massive amounts of data that Facebook is collecting. One thing to keep in mind is that using Facebook, allowing apps to access our information, etc. is our choice and we have to take responsibility for that.

  • These are some really great insights! I think that video chat would be an amazingly successful addition to Facebook.
    I also agree with the privacy/data mining issues. I try to avoid most 3rd party apps for this reason. It seems like the privacy settings change all the time, so you really have to pay attention and make sure you’re keeping up with the latest changes to protect your information.

  • I thought this was a really interesting post and appreciate your having shared it. I would love to see your class delve deeper into issues about how they are using Facebook Chat and Facebook Groups now and hear their ideas about how those two functions work for them and could be improved. I’d also love to know more about how your class understands some of the issues related to privacy (settings, information they share on wall posts and in chat, images they post to their profiles and others, how to untag themselves from photos, etc.)

    I found myself in agreement with @Bailey’s comment about Facebook apps not being able to access personal information. I think there are many of us who take issue with that. I also think @Rachel is on to something big with her suggestion about music sharing (wonder if Facebook is listening?). Wholeheartedly agree with @Nicole’s comment about layout changes and would extend that to include less frequent changes in terms of service. @Jordan’s comment about brands too many brands wanting them to “like” the page and having updates cluttering newsfeeds is really valuable for anyone using, or contemplating using Facebook for business. And I would suspect that we will see video chat enabled soon. In the meantime Skype is an option and I’m going to go check out that Clobby app. All in all, wonderful, solid recommendations.

    An additional point I would share with the class? LAst year, my then-17 year old was friended last year by a member of the media who wanted background information on a sensational and tragic murder (a close of my son’s). He friended the reporter and didn’t see any problems with having done so. However, during the time that he was friends with the reporter, his newstream and his friends posts were available to the media. Something he hadn’t taken into consideration. I would caution your class that this may be happening more and to think carefully about the possible ramifications of randomly accepting friend requests from the press.

    Thanks for this and kudos to your class. They are impressive!

  • I love that it’s not about just games or fun – it’s about connecting in a way that’s more real! And Rachel’s playlist sharing idea is my favorite. I love that she’s aware of the piracy issues, and I think she presents a fantastic solution. Myspace offered *some* sharing options, and there’s a Reverbnation tab for FB pages that also allows for some sharing, but not in a way that’s as friendly across multiple friends as what she suggests. Are you listening, Facebook? I know I for one would spend more time on FB if I had a great soundtrack already there. And for those of us who make music, we’d spend less time adding third-party widgets to share it!

  • Flowerscrap

    LOL – see Teenagers really do know everything 🙂 Good ideas – I especially liked Jacob Fields’ comment – FB has such counter-intuitive user interface!!! I get soo lost on it… And no i’m not that old.

  • Anonymous

    I love the ideas you are suggesting, and particularly agree with Jacob that Facebook makes it very hard to easily access your data. That’s something that will only become more of an issue in the future.

    But, just because I like to ask questions…here’s one for the students. When you speak to your parents about Facebook, what do you think *they* need Facebook to do for them? Do you think they have different pain points? Why or why not?

    Happy learning!

  • These suggestions are fantastic! They prove that to make your product better, rely more on the users of that product rather than internal “experts.” I hope Facebook is doing this same kind of user research. I’d love to see some of these suggestions actually put into action.

  • Great comments from the class participants bout issues that play on all our minds, starting with privacy concerns to interface design to advertising to feature requests for rss and video integration etc.

    Thank you participants for all the ideas. Thank you for sharing their voices with us Mark.

  • Elizabeth Ham

    Thanks! I’m glad to see the impact my idea is making.

  • Great information. I hope Facebook is listening. I agree with a lot of what your students said. And they had a few ideas I’d never thought of. Of course, I’m not a teenager anymore.

  • I do not know if government will ever go the route of regulating facebook, but you might see more rules defined that will shape how Facebook must alert you to the information it is capturing about you.

    The reality, right now, Facebook has built a better mousetrap. Now us users (the mice) must learn to be smarter than Facebook.

  • Bailey Jones

    thank you all for your thoughts and comments facebook needs to change and if they don’t people will get sick with the app creaters accessing they’er profiles and facebook will crash and burn

    thanks abunch!
    Bailey Jones

  • Jess Gilpin

    I think Facebook is all about user research! Really, it’s all they do. How much they take on board is another matter. The inclusion of a chat feature was part of it, and I love the idea of video chat put forward by a number of these smart young people. Would be even BETTER to incorperate it into mobile technology (Facebook apps, etc.) so it could be done from your smart phone.

    Great job everyone!

  • Rachel Gorman

    Thanks so much! It would make things SO much simplier, and increase Facebook’s web traffic. I really hope Facebook is listening!!

  • Thanks for the comment! Though apps like these are great, I’m not sure if I like the many attactments that seem to be invading Facebook. It all started simply, but has branched off to become a mini-community (well, not that mini). Facebook has become “commercial” and it seems like everything that I see on FB is a company trying to get me to buy their product, or even use or promote it.

  • Jordan Brown

    To add to the irony,m are homeschoolers! 🙂
    Jordan Brown

  • Jordan Brown

    Thank YOU for your feedback! Mark Schaefer was so much fun to have at our class today. 🙂
    Jordan Brown

  • Jordan Brown

    Agreed! 🙂 Thanks for your comments. They are all so fun!
    Jordan Brown

    PS We are homeschooled! 😀

  • Very cool ideas guys and girls!

  • I’m feeling much more at ease knowing that younger people are thinking about privacy, security and the whole thing about falsification of advertising! Great thinking folks! Super idea, Mark.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Nicole Gonzalez

    Exactly! Changing is ok every once in awhile, but lately it’s getting rather overboard. Also if Facebook is going to change the profile without the user consent, why ask if the user wants it before?

  • Such excellent ideas! I’m already salivating at the thought of voice and video chat … I’d NEVER get any work done! 😉

  • I like the ideas, and I believe I read it somewhere that Facebook is in development of adding a video chat option to there messenger feature.

  • There are some excellent suggestions here – I hope Facebook spot this blog post 😉

    With the privacy and format issues, the debates have been there for a while but usage of the site continues to grow. I think something pretty major is going to need to happen for many users (especially young users) to completely break away from the service.

    The video chat idea does seem like a natural step for Facebook to take – I think they will, which will result in many happy students!

    Great ideas, great blog post, thank you very much!


  • Wonderful stuff guys and girls. As a 42-year old marketing director, I can ‘get educated’ on social media / marketing and build it into our plans, but you guys LIVE IT. It is a natural part of your life. For that reason, continue this sort of work. The notes from Daniel and Samantha around video chat are good thoughts. In business there are several high-def products for such (Cisco’s TelePresence) that we use … but how does the next gen push that down. Skype is there, why not FB? The other KEY issue for you to continue thinking about is data privacy (Baily mentiones that, and a comment also touches on it). FB mines data. There will be companies in the near future (probably already, and why not yours?) that will help you manage your data privacy rights across the web. Personal Data is the new social currency. We own it, and businesses want it. That’s a different business model now, isn’t it. So, what does a business have to provide you, in exchange for your data?
    Great job all!

  • First – great to see this. Need more of it. As a 42-year old marketing director, I’ve learned social and am living it a bit, but you guys have it as part of your fabric. Thank you for sharing these insights. I see two importion views that your class mentions: Video (Samantha, Nathan & Daniel) and data privacy (Jordan & Bailey). Incorporating video chat into your everyday connections (like Skype) is a natural extension. (So, how are you going to make that happen?) But the big one, is data privacy. Your personal data is the new social currency. You own it, businesses want it (that’s a switch). Data protection brokers will thrive in the coming years, making sure that ONLY what you want out there and to whom, is really what is out there. What will your generation do to protect this new currency?
    Keep up the good work. Ping us often.

  • Hey Everyone,

    Bravo! Great suggestions. You guys have grown-up with social media, and you are clearly very savvy. I like what I see here, it makes me hopeful for the future.

    It is good that there are several concerns regarding privacy and security issues. I really think this is going to become more and more of a “hot button” issue in the next couple of years.

    Also looks like Video Chat would be a slam dunk. I completely agree.

    Amen to Nicole’s comment about not changing their layout so often.

    Enjoy working with Mark and please take advantage of this opportunity, he really has a lot of great ideas. Keep up the great work!

  • Jon

    A great list of Facebook improvements. Seem to be several concerns on privacy and security, which I believe are valid. My big one would be improved usability. Trying to figure out how to configure or do something other than posts can be challenging.

    Great job!

  • Sean

    @ Jordan Brown: The company does not get paid when you click on their advertisements. What actually happens is THEY pay Facebook. That’s one way Facebook makes money. Also, liking a page does not give them access to your profile. The page itself is run by administrators (or maybe just one) and they have normal Facebook accounts just like everyone else. If you don’t post it on the page, they can’t see what you do.

    @Bailey Jones: Most applications couldn’t do what they do without letting them access your friends, name, and profile picture. How would you invite someone to play Farmville with you, or send them a request to help you out in Mafia wars if the application couldn’t access your friends? Also, Facebook is very explicit. Many times, you have to authorize an application to post WITHOUT your permission. Legitimate applications won’t post to your wall without your permission, and you can change individual settings in the applications tab.

    @Nick Jernigan: Do you realize how many notifications that would be? On average, a facebook user has 65 friends log in every day. Even if only half of them look at your profile, that’s still 32 notifications. Besides, the processing power required to do that would be prohibitive. Try tracking profile views every second for over 500 million users.

  • Greg Fox

    Love the instant realization that all of you just connected with all of us who follow Mark’s blog. Connection by immersion; simple as that. Your insights and opinions are spot-on and just as valid (and probably more realistic) than those of biz-type experts. I am turning my attention to work projects that really matter to me now, and really value collaborating and sharing with creative students – and ppl who are ageless, meaning that they care more about creativity, spark, focus and sincerity than about age. I also want to mention that even though I had some great teachers, i missed out on having great mentors. Kudos to Mark on that

  • It’s never too late. I’m here to help : )

  • This was a simple class exercise by kids as young as 13. It was not a technical evaluation by any stretch. I appreciate your thorough explanation but also do not want to quash a simple brainstorming activity by enthusiastic young minds.

  • Knuckle bump to you young folks for your media literate approach to Facebook. My only comment is to linger in the fact that we humans are highly social beings. Afterall, we all know that Facebook (and other web sites) collect and (in many cases) share our personal information, yet we partake anyway. We will risk our privacy and even safety to socially connect with one another. I think it therefore makes it essential to identify the characteristics and behaviors that comprise a “good digital citizen.” Perhaps your next project . . . ?

  • Mark, Thanx so much for doing this. This media literacy class has been an awesome experience for our kids and for our family around the dinner table! So exciting for you to come in and spend time with them. Rob Brown

  • Iloveorange

    Thanks for all your feedback everyone! Mark is a great teacher I gotta say. You da man.

  • My pleasure. I’m blessed to be in a position in my life to help others and share my experiences with the next generation!

  • Great comments – I hope Facebook is reading your post!

  • Out of the mouths of kids… Well, have to admit that’s excellent/relevant feedback.

  • Great feedback from the teens. As I mentioned on my blog, when you get this big it becomes difficult to keep the user experience clean and uncluttered (all those “like” pages). These likes and ads are what keep the site in the black. Didn’t matter as much when it was a small startup, but it’s a business. Great topic…. @GreeneJK

  • Mark,

    I can’t express how awesome I think that this post is! It is really cool to see how teens are thinking about Facebook and the range of thought that they are expressing when it comes to how Facebook should operate.

    I think that the teens expressing thoughts regarding the chat system are dead on the money–incorporating voice and video chat over Facebook would be a great way for the company to grow and expand.

    I also think that Nicole was dead on as well. Since I’ve become a manager for multiple clients’ pages, Facebook has instituted some sort of noticeable change EVERY MONTH since I’ve started…that’s 6 changes (Changing place v. company pages, allowing pages to be merged, changing the layout of pages, giving place pages a different set of up front metrics, etc.) From a page manager’s point of view, it can be as frustrating as being an end user and having the layouts change.

    And the first comment made, the one by Jordan, is all too indicative of the growing divide between consumers and companies. I know that a lot of companies view the like as a form of social currency (see’s article on the new “like” system from today). However, it becomes about so much more than the “like,” and admittedly, I’ve become ensnared in that type of thinking. It really is about connecting with people, not customers, but people.

    It makes all the difference to connect, to know, to develop relationships with people rather than continually trying to sell a product.

    Thanks for all the amazing work you do!

    Aaron Sachs

  • Mark, you may want to pass along to the teen panel that their wishes for voice chat may be granted on the horizon. Mashable is reporting some interesting screen captures today on Facebook.

  • RaeRae

    Great list of suggestions! My main complaint is that the IM Chat in facebook is not nearly as good as say …every other IMtool in the world … as a result I never use it. Good luck with getting lots of tweets and comments – Rae Rae – Alpharetta/GA

  • Thanks … I am the regular class teacher and I will share this with them tomorrow. Mark did a great job and they LOVED seeing their opinions widely read and commented on.

  • It is so wonderful to feel the creativity and intelligence shining through! Bravo for your students.

    So – if someone wants to out-facebook Facebook, they need to build a social site with
    Better Privacy, Voice+Video, Music, User Interface, consistant predictable behavior/design, reveal more information to users, and less to corporations, not spam its own users, and have it configurable BY the user.

    (and seed that site with a few hundred million users)

    There’s the school’s “Blueprint to the first $Billion.”

  • Guest

    Very interesting and perceptive comments. Thank you for sharing them.

    We are also working with students here in Switzerland, and many of them have given us very similar feedback. That students in another part of the world have similar reactions is quite telling.

  • Mcudahy

    Outstanding insights gang. Thank you so much. My company is in the soft launch stage of a new online TV channel – – and these comments will apply to us (and anyone trying to engage teens online) as well. I’m listening, and suggest others do the same. Best of luck, and thanks again for sharing!

  • Anonymous

    Seems video conferencing is a big need, what do these teens think of Google+ Hangouts? And while, not quite the conferencing tool, Facebook does have the one-to-one video chat option. This feature was unveiled in 2011 as an integration with Skype. Has anyone used that? If so, what do they feel?

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