Herwin - thank you for the thoughtful post. It brought to mind a reminder: target users and critics are sometimes yet not always the same audience. It creates a fine line to walk I believe for Facebook ie to clearly decipher useful feedback that could enhance (& respect) user experience -- from the critiques that will remain far outside Facebook's ideal user persona. And even with that premise in play, maybe all critique for Facebook, in and beyond it's privacy issues, should be acknowledged. It appears however that complaints like "Facebook is evil" stem from a non-user user --- as in, someone who uses the social platform yet who is not socially minded. They voice complaint without interest to improve or take action but rather voice to combat a tool that represents an era that they do not acknowledge as legitimate.
Great thoughts Jill!
I definitely think the lines are blurred, skewed, and maybe even bent in all sorts of ways due to the fact that Facebook has over 500 million users in addition to those who observe, but do not use the service; that's larger than the United States, so I'm sure it's a tough job to monitor all the feedback that's been published on the web or sent to them.
This cool infographic sizes up Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter against the largest countries: http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displaystory.cfm?subjectid=7933596&story_id=16660401
I also think the large user base adds possibilities to Facebook's 'ideal user'; especially considering there have been many features that were implemented, but not required as part of the service--applications, Questions, games, Groups, the Marketplace.
Facebook does a great job of providing choices for these features, but I think much of the criticism is directed toward user interface, style, and more technical/information issues, including privacy. If Facebook starts to value choice in these areas more, a lot of the more conservative users would probably be happier. (They just shouldn't go overboard like Myspace did with their profile designs back in the early 2000s; now that was just too much.)
And yes, the diversity and size of their user base does not excuse Facebook from listening to their current and prospective users, acknowledging their concerns, and making changes when the concerns are valid. Although I deeply believe in filing grievances with a certain level-headedness, I do think finding the rationale and logic behind impassioned critiques can help to calm some angry dissenters.
The "Facebook is evil" complaints are probably from a "non-user user;" great point. I think it's what Sheldon was hinting at in his comment: "people love to complain about things like facebook, but then never act on anything." Having someone waste their life by stalking people on Facebook is more of an education and outreach issue; and you're right in that these observations are made out of either fear or an unwillingness to acknowledge a changing society.
There was a study in 2009 that falsely reported a correlation between being a Facebook user and having a low GPA; it reminded me of complaints that were against allowing children to watch television. Although I think studies like these are important to cover because they do inform us about how media interacts with other areas of society, the results are either influenced by overly negative comments or skewed, after completion, by those who fear change.
Freakonomics' blog post on the article here: http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/08/correction-facebook-does-not-make-you-stupid/
Have a great rest of the weekend!