–Dan Kelly, Attorney

Four weeks ago, I blogged about FaceBook’s ill-advised move to allow unique username URLs.  Some time between then and now, FaceBook removed the page where trademark owners could defensively register their marks to prevent others from choosing such marks as user names.  Now, a rights holder’s only recourse is to submit this form to report an infringing user name.

In the course of my research of FaceBook, I have found that actually using FaceBook for affirmatively useful business purposes, such as setting up a business account or creating an ad, can be a mind-numbingly difficult task.  FaceBook’s shortcomings, I think, are neatly addressed in this frustrated FaceBook user’s help question:  “does anyone know how to actually get help from facebook help?

Two weeks ago, I read news reports of MySpace’s woes.  (And by the way, has anyone ever remarked on the similarities of the MySpace and FaceBook landing pages?)  This week, I finally gave in and actually tried to follow some feeds on Twitter, much to my frustration–it is ridiculously clunky.

So, much as this may paint me as a new “new media” luddite, I must ask:  What is the fascination with these so-called “social networking” web sites?  As far as I can tell, they are clunky, inefficient, inhospitable time-wasters.  Unless these sites become savvy (and quickly) to some simple principles of usability and customer service, I doubt that any one of them will really become viable and succeed over the long haul.  As illustrated by the likes of Amazon.com, Google, Craigslist, Drudge Report, and others, there are many, many ways to succeed on the Internet, but social networking may not be one of them.