Microsoft Launches Social Media Platform Destined To Ruin Your Life
I sincerely hope this is some sort of prank. I was reading the articles that appear in my LinkedIn feed this morning, one of which was about Microsoft launching their new social media platform. I was two paragraphs into the piece and was reading about some of its key features when I decided I just had to see it for myself. So naturally, I signed up to check this thing out first hand. What I found made my jaw hit the floor. This will surely go down as one of the biggest blunders in recent internet history.
Where to start? It’s all so bad.
First, let’s talk about the interface. so.cl looks like it was cloned from the already useless G+ network. The layout is identical, but some of the names have been changed to protect Microsoft from copyright infringement suits. It is more colorful and vibrant looking that G+, but that’s like repainting a broken chair. Microsoft took the liberty of copying the video “Hangouts” from G+, calling them “Video Parties”. There’s an area in the top right hand corner of your UI reserved for these and if you aren’t currently using it, you’ll get an ever-changing display of current video parties. Here’s the alarming part: the current video parties all seem to be pop music videos and Eastern European pornography. Yes. Pornography. I wish I were kidding, but this will set us up for the next section I want to address.
No Privacy Whatsoever
This is what made me scratch my head and say, “Hmm, I probably should delete this account right now”. A key feature of so.cl is that it displays users’ searches at the top of everyone’s homepage via something that looks like a banner ad. Here’s the extra awesome part: It displays your user profile picture at the left of the ad, images related to your search the rest of the way across and at the bottom it reads, “So and So searched for ‘crayons’”. Seems harmless enough, until you remember that porn is the most searched thing on the internet. This banner displays some sort of porn-related search at least once per every three or four displays. One user figured out how terrible this is and apparently is conducting a ton of phony searches to point out the problem. While many of them are pornographic in nature, one of them was “Why is Justin Bieber so fabulous?”. Thanks buddy, and I have no idea why.
Something else I noticed in the 20 minutes or so I was toying around on the site is that this site will give you up as a total idiot. Some of the searches that appeared were sadly revealing. Searches like, “How to make tea”, and “Where is China” will let everyone know you don’t know anything. I thought that certainly such a revealing feature must be able to be controlled by the end user. Sadly, it is not. There is currently no way for users to disable this feature or filter it in any way. As a matter of fact, the privacy controls were unbelievably limited, but I guess Microsoft wanted to see how much they could get away with at once. I’d imagine that a more comprehensive privacy control will come in pieces later on.
Intended Use, Potential Use, And Plugging The Holes
Privacy invasion issues aside, this site and its features could work well for businesses if Microsoft ever finds a way to appropriately filter that search feature. I see a great opportunity for social media marketing and search marketing, but the trick is going to be getting users on the site who are individuals and not just businesses. It also seems that instead of trying to create a unique platform all their own, Microsoft is choosing to just fix what others deem is wrong with Google Plus. In short, Microsoft has clearly taken the same approach to this website that they take to all of their products: They made sure it could mostly function and then sent it out into the world to be tested, assuming end users would find all the bugs, report them, and then Microsoft could address them in a later version. Good job Microsoft, you aren’t even trying anymore.