Well it looks like Facebook is up to its old tricks — stepping into a steaming pile of user discontent by changing the news feed for what seems to be the 100th time in the last two years.
Gone is a chronological news feed, replaced instead by one that divines which posts its considers most important to you. As Facebook explains in its blog:
But it’s not just the people you hear from that make your News Feed interesting. It also matters how much you visit Facebook. If you haven’t returned in a week, you may want to see a summary of top stories first. If you’ve already visited several times that day, you probably care more about recent news.
There’s one big problem, though. Top stories appear at the top (natch) of the news feed, which means you have to scroll through a lot of meaningless posts from your college roommate and Aunt Gladys before you reach the most recent ones in your feed. Not good if you rely on Facebook to keep up with the latest news.
To counter that, Facebook has added a ticker to the right upper corner of the page to keep up with you friends and pages in real time. While far from the ideal solution, it is an improvement — at least to me — over those annoying event and game invitations that used to reside there. (Instead, they are located below the ticker.) The ticker is kind of like a miniature version of the news feed, but without the top story juju applied to it.
Not all the changes are bad, though. You can now decide how many updates you want to receive from a friend: all, most or only important. You can also unsubscribe from a friends updates, which blocks their posts but doesn’t unfriend them. You can resubscribe to their posts whenever you want.
Facebook also has changed the way photos are displayed — now they are bigger and more prominent in the news feed, a marked improvement over their previous iteration.
As expected, the latest Facebook changes have unleashed a flood of criticism from users.
I asked fans of the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Facebook page what they thought of the changes. Of the more than 30 people who responded, most were emphatic in their dislike for them. Here are some of the comments:
Susie Massey: Don’t like it…. I just want stuff in chronological order no matter how relevant FB thinks it is.
Tina Cashman: They are deciding what is best for each of us … not digging that. We are adults … this isn’t MySpace, after all! (Nice burn, Tina!)
Kathy Burton Boseman: AWFUL AWFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t like it and mobile is awful. I don’t why they keep messing with stuff … you should have a choice.
Cynthia Neal Stewart: Learning what they all are but so far I like them.
Personally, I’m not wowed by the changes. But I know I will soon get used to them, just like I’ve become accustomed to all of Facebook’s previous changes.
As one of my Facebook friends said today: If you hate these most recent changes to Facebook, think about how much people in countries without running water or access to food must feel about them.