Being a social network seems to be a good business choice. It pays well, there are all sorts of perks, and you can work out of California.
However, every social network that’s launched invariably gets torn down and destroyed in the end. I’ve noticed that no matter whether they are peaches or meerkats or waves, they always seem to make the same basic mistakes every single time.
Therefore, if I ever happen to start my own social network:
Rule #01 – I will not repeatedly change user’s timelines in the hopes of creating a “better user experience” that no one asked for.
Rule #02 – The scrappy startup that promises to deliver a superior experience will not be ignored as no threat, but rather purchased and immediately shuttered.
Rule #03 – My customer support department will not hide behind FAQs and contact forms, but rather be accessible and responsive through the network itself.
Rule #04 – I will make sure that whatever data center I use has the capacity to scale quickly, without suicidal downtime.
Rule #05 – One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my network that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.
Rule #06 – I will have a plan for monetizing the network from the outset so that all development can be checked against that ultimate requirement.
Rule #07 – I will not waste time tweaking the font or colors of my logo.
Rule #08 – I will not move or hide where users go to see their notifications.
Rule #09 – I will provide apps for both iOS and Android simultaneously, and avoid the appearance of playing favorites.
Rule #10 – I will automatically delete and ban spammers, pervs and trolls.
Rule #11 – Before spending money on chatting heads, giant smileys or other pointless aesthetics, I will first see if there are any valid technical improvements which could use the budget.
Rule #12 – No matter how lucrative the offer, I will never, ever sell my user’s data to advertisers.
Rule #13 – I will store users’ passwords under a pile of dirty laundry, where no hacker would ever look.
Rule #14 – I will not make users wait or jump through hoops just get a profile URL with their name in it.
Rule #15 – I will tell businesses up front that they can use my network to reach a larger audience for free, but that the perks of success will come at a cost.
Rule #16 – Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in addictive in-app games. When so occupied, it’s too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.
Rule #17 – I will not insist on making my users provide countless details of their personal lives and preferences. It may reduce the effectiveness of advertising, but will speed user registration and make my network feel less like a stalker.
Rule #18 – Users will be able to share posts to other networks, share links, copy links, and copy text, all intuitively.
Rule #19 – I will periodically employ beta testers and power users to review key aspects of the network and provide valuable feedback, which I will then listen to.
Rule #20 – I will be transparent about my network’s usage and publish verifiable reports quarterly.
Rule #21 – I will embrace journalists and influencers who get excited about my network, and make sure that they’re given every opportunity to establish an audience.
Rule #22 – No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct a social network which is completely indestructible except for one small and virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.
Rules #23 – When I create a multimedia presentation of my plan designed so that my five-year-old advisor can easily understand the details, I will not label the disk “Killer Social Network” and leave it lying on top of my desk.
There you have our Rules for Being An Evil Social Network. If you were such an Evil Overlord, what additional rules would you add?
Huge credit to Peter Ansbach for the original inspirational list of Rules for Being an Evil Overlord.