Facebook Features You May Have Missed

I have recently been receiving quite a bit of traffic to this website from those who have specific questions about Facebook functionalities. If YOU are one of those people, I am more than happy to do my best to answer your question. To do so, simply leave your question in the form of a comment on this post. Hope this helps!

As a Facebook user for almost five years (can you believe that?) I’ve witnessed Facebook’s “growing pains” as it has  experimented with different features. Some of the changes have been asbolutely horrid, other very much appreciated. But looking back, here are three features that were, at one point, available on the site but have since been removed. And you may have not even known about them…

1. Exporting “Friends'” Contact Information

Yes, at the very beginning (let’s say 2004 – 2005) it was possible to export your friends’ contact information as an excel spreadsheet. Phone number, address, birthdays: nothing was spared. And it was great! I used the list to supplement my online e-mail address book. At the time, the site was so small and only open to those with an .edu address, so it made sense to make the information available. Now, because of privacy concerns and the overall looser connections between people and companies, this would never happen. (But, man oh man, think how useful it would be to be able to export all the information! I get nostalgic just thinking about the good old days when it was possible.)

2. Visual Display of Social Graph

Julie Minevich TouchgraphThis was another feature that was available at Facebook’s inception. When you clicked on the appropriate link, Facebook would create a circular representation of your online connections. It was really interesting to see what your relationships looked like at an aggregate level.

 I remember in my graph, there were several distinct sections that had some overlap: “Greeks”, friends from my freshman dorm,  my high school connections, etc.

Currently, there are several applications that claim to provide the same functionality. However, I have not been successful at finding one that 1. works, 2. provides the information in the nice, crisp manner that Facebook was able to.

UPDATE: I was finally able to get one of the third-party applications to create a graph for me, as shown to the left. However, this graph was created using relationships based on common pictures, which may not be the most accurate indicator of relationship proximity.

3. Map of Friend’s Locations 

This was a feature that Facebook enabled one summer as a way to show you where your friends were. Again, at this point, the site was only open to those with .edu address so this was a pretty useful tool as many of Facebook users “migrated” for the summer – whether it be back to their respective homes or to different cities for temporary internships or wherever else they chose to spend their break.

Facebook wasn’t an international site yet, so what you’d see was a map of the United States with circles over different cities. The bigger the circles, the more friends were at that location. By clicking on the circle, you could call up a list of friends in that city for the summer. It was great feature for planning trips and trying to reconnect with friends who were in the area.

Again, I’m sure there’s a third-party application that has duplicated this functionality by now, but I believe the data would be a little muddied as not everyone necessarily has to indicate a “current town” or even a “location network”.

Do you have any features that you’ve seen come and go that you nostalgically recall from time to time? Or features you’d like to see implemented in the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • http://www.ahmetalpbalkan.com ahmet alp balkan

    Hmm, could you tell how can we do these in Facebook step by step?

  • Fred

    The Social graph feature motivated me to join. I was oh so curious about graphical representations of networks at the time.

  • Avi

    TOTALLY with you on the ‘export’ feature! I didn’t think anyone but me had realized it existed… You can still export events to Outlook, but it just isn’t the same…

  • Melanie

    Probably a VERY simple question, but how do I “subscribe” to my friends’ status updates? To get them to show on my home page? The ones that do always show appear aren’t ones I ever chose, they just started showing up but there are other friends of mine that I NEVER see their updates and would like to see them. Can you help?