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Facebook, in a battle with rivals LinkedIn and MySpace, was found to have the best feature sets of the three social networks.  The bad news is that Facebook was also the buggiest, according a public review conducted by uTest.

In its quarterly “Bug Battle,” uTest reported today that Facebook edged out LinkedIn and MySpace in terms of feature sets and functionality.  However, LinkedIn–as the social network for serious business users and professionals–garnered the honor for best overall quality.  Unfortunately, Facebook — the largest of the three social networks — also had the most bugs and shortcomings.

uTest, a global network of more than 15,000 application testers — many of whom are current or former value-added resellers (VARs), application developers and solution providers, conducts its quarterly “Bug Battles” to uncover shortcomings, flaws and vulnerabilities in publicly available applications.  During the weeklong contest, more than 1,100 testers combed the three social networks for the quality, functionality and performance of their features and applications. uTest awarded cash prizes from a pool of more than $3,000 based on volume and quality of bugs and reports. 

The testers found 243 application bugs and flaws in the Facebook SNS web application, of which 14.4 percent were deemed serious. While LinkedIn had 250 bugs, only 10 percent of these bugs were deemed serious.  MySpace had 225 bugs, of which 11 percent were serious. The test period was conducted prior to last week’s release of Facebook’s new homepage.

When the data is normalized by number of bugs found per tester, Facebook came out ahead of its competition with .58 bugs per tester. LinkedIn was second with .63 and MySpace rounding up the social networking tests with .74.

“Two things that matter when looking at quality is the number of bugs and the severity of bugs,” says Matt Johnston, vice president of marketing at uTest. “Clearly, Facebook won when the results were normalized.”

Despite having the fewest number of problems, MySpace was ranked lowest by uTest contest participants in terms of quality, usability and features.  Testers complained that MySpace isn’t compatible with all browsers and is often cluttered with overlapping images and background titles. They also complained that MySpace pages take too long to load and has too many advertisements.

With more than 175 million users today and adding more than 5 million users a month, Facebook is fast becoming the social network of choice among both the causal and professional user.  Facebook narrowly edged out LinkedIn in usability, while handily topping the field for best feature sets.  Security topped the list of concerns with Facebook as testers cited the lack of an auto-logoff feature, poor user identification authentication and a sometimes “scary” amount of information presented about members.

Overall, LinkedIn won the testing battle, with testers giving it top marks for quality, a one-point deficit in usability to Facebook and second place for best feature set. Testers had few negative comments, dinging the network for only being available in four languages and having synchronization problems with Microsoft Outlook.

While most of the flaws and problems found in the contest were Graphical User Interface (GUI) – or functionality related, uTest did find one serious security vulnerability that would leave account holders open to compromise.  uTest is withholding the details of the vulnerability and the identity of the affected network until  the problem is resolved.

uTest’s previous Bug Battle tested popular Web browsers – Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, Google Chrome and Firefox.  Bug Battles are held quarterly.

How did the three biggest social networks perform in relation to other applications and Web services?  "This is probably on par with other applications," says Johnston. "There hasn’t been a lot of work done to baseline these things, so the only thing that we can compare them to is each other."