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Facebook Puts the Brakes on ‘The Hacker Way’ | Wired Business |

Before taking his company public last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg warned Wall Street that his social network would follow “The Hacker Way,” an unconventional path built in part around the adage “move fast and break things.”

The idea was that Facebook would rather make mistakes than get left behind in fast-innovating Silicon Valley. But a year and a half after the “Hacker Way” manifesto, Facebook is breaking fewer things and moving more slowly — at least when it comes to individual features and products. It’s testing new tools more thoroughly prior to release and then parsing goodies out slowly to help smoke out even more problems.

Facebook’s move toward greater testing is a sign of maturation at the company, overseen by the 29-year-old Zuckerberg, and this should help Facebook as it seeks to build an ever more intimate relationship with its users, collecting data on their physical movements and offline shopping habits, trying to capture more of their web searches, and targeting them based on other websites they’ve visited.

In some regards, Facebook is moving faster than it ever has before. Since going public, it has launched a search engine, a mobile “apperating system,” a camera app, a pages app, a “poke” app, an app store, an ad exchange, an online store, a gift card, a video sharing system, at least two major news feed updates, and plenty more. The teenaged Zuckerberg, in full hacker glory as a Harvard underclassman, would have approved of the breakneck product release pace.

But while Facebook has more projects going in parallel, it has learned to take its time releasing each one. Take the News Feed revision released by the company earlier this week, which can resurface old but relevant content you’ve loaded but not looked at and which weighs content according to who you’ve interacted with most recently on Facebook. The changes were tested first on Facebook employees, who over the course of two weeks registered only a single complaint, and then on roughly 1 percent of the 700 million Facebook users who visit their news feeds every day.

All significant tweaks to News Feed get some sort of testing on a subset of Facebook users, usually for a week or two, according to engineering manager Lars Backstrom. This week, Facebook created a new blog to announce major changes to News Feed, part of an attempt to solicit still more feedback.

Even more extensive testing accompanied the release of Facebook’s Graph Search, which spent more than two years as an internal project, being refined, tested on employees, and even tested on users behind one-way glass. After it was announced publicly in January, Graph Search was made available to “a very small number of users,” as Zuckerberg put it.

Only this week did all English speaking U.S. users gain access. In the intervening months, Facebook engineers tweaked the system to account for unanticipated challenges, like people typing “pics of besties” rather than the more understandable “photos of my friends,” or typing “movies I dig” instead of “movies I like.”

At Graph Search’s launch, Zuckerberg even went so far as to brag about how slowly Graph Search would be deployed. “We’re going to start rolling it out very slowly,” he said, “and we’re going to incorporate data from how people use it and we’re going to make the product better before we roll it out very widely.”

Facebook’s love for pre-release testing has even grown to include advertising products. Facebook Exchange, a potentially creepy (if well precedented) product that shows users ads based on what outside websites they’ve recently visited, was in beta for three months prior to broader launch in September.

This sort of care should be a welcome change for Facebook users burned by the social network’s old familiar cycle of making big sweeping changes, whether to privacy standards or the Facebook interface or both, angering users, apologizing to those users, and partially reversing the original changes. It’s been a couple of years since Facebook went through one of those.

Not that Wall Street has fully appreciated Facebook’s caution. Analysts have been quick to note that while Facebook announced it was doubling its costs this year amid a hiring binge, it simultaneously warned that the payoff from new products like Graph Search and Facebook Home will come only in the years to come. As a result, Facebook spent more than a year trying simply to return its stock to the levels of its initial public offering. But investors may yet find that user trust pays very nice dividends over the long haul.

via Facebook Puts the Brakes on 'The Hacker Way' | Wired Business |


Born in 1964, business owner, from Woodbridge, VA, owns ExcitingAds! Inc. ( and blog ( He was born in Mirpurkhas, Sind, Pakistan. His elementary school was ST. Michael's Convent High School, Mirpurkhas, Sind, Pakistan. Graduated high school from ST. Bonaventure's Convent High School, Hyderabad, Sind, Pakistan. His pre-med college was S. A. L. Govt. College, Mirpurkas, Sind, Pakistan. Graduated from Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Sind, Pakistan in 1990. Earned equivalency certification from Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, Philadelphia, PA in 1994.

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