Slipping-on-a-banana-peel-into-a-pile-of-rakes firm Facebook, a name which is now synonymous with massive, irreparable fuckups, has recommitted itself to mistakes, failures, and harebrained flights of fancy. We know this because they said so, and they’re proud of it!
In a blog post on Tuesday, the social media giant announced that it will soon launch an untold number of “new consumer-focused apps,” developed by what its calling the New Product Experimentation team. On the mostly-blank website for the initiative, Facebook explicitly states that the stuff coming out of NPE “may not resonate with everyone” and anticipates many of these apps will be “shutdown as a result.”
In other words: Here comes a bunch of useless crap—crap that has no clear connection to core products like Facebook and Instagram, and will be cordoned off to keep the things that work from being tainted by ideas that absolutely won’t. In a short FAQ, Facebook explains that these projects won’t even bear the company’s name because it expects “many failures” and wants “minimize disruption to the billions of people who use Facebook apps every day.” Instead, these apps will be attributed to “NPE Team, from Facebook.” Ferfucksakes...
“Making useless accessory apps and foisting bizarre features on millions of users has been a hallmark of Facebook’s business for years,” you might argue—and, wow, took the words right out of my mouth, friend-o. There was Facebook Beacon and Sponsored Stories, both of which were so invasive they led to successful class-action lawsuits. You might also remember when the company unsuccessfully tried to compete with Snapchat not once, but twice (Poke and Slingshot, both quietly shuttered) and its largely unused TikTok clone, Lasso. Does anyone recall Listen With Friends, which was Facebook’s copy of Turntable.fm? And who could forget Notify, or Paper, or Parse, or Ticker, or Deals?
The answer is everyone. These were unmemorable products rolled out carelessly and then quietly dragged behind a shed to be taken out of their misery.
NPE seems to be Facebook’s longtime, spammy “move fast and break things” development strategy, now codified into an entire bloatware skunkworks division. Presumably, this will give the flagship products plausible deniability when it comes to important public-facing qualities, like not exposing consumer data on an enormous scale or facilitating ethnic cleansing. Who said Mark Zuckerberg isn’t an innovator anymore?