This post was originally written for NewMedici.com.
Much of the social media news in the past couple of weeks has focused on Facebook’s release of a number of new features. Some of the features have been welcomed, while one in particular has garnered most of the attention and criticism.
- What used to be called “Pages” (Facebook’s branded and celebrity hubs) have now been changed to “Public Profiles” which treats these brands more as Facebook friends and less as a separate feature.
- User can now choose to share their profile information and status updates with the world, instead of limiting viewers to the people in your friends list.
- A new homepage was launched.
- Since a Twitter/Facebook merger is not currently in the cards, it appears that Facebook has decided to turn itself into Twitter instead, by opening up users’ status updates to everyone. While this in and of itself is a great move, they have lost some of the features that made Facebook appealing over Twitter in the first place. Facebook has described the new home page as a real-time stream but nothing could be further from the truth. Facebook’s previous home page did in fact have a real-time stream (it was under the “Live Feed” tab), but in this new version, the feed does not update automatically (ie: stream) and on top of that, it edits what you can see of your friends’ behaviors. So while you used to be able to see everything that was happening in your Facebook community, you have now lost the ability to see things like who your friends are friending and how many friends have added a particular application.
Another significant occurrence of last week was that TweetDeck, one of the most-used Twitter clients, released a new update which includes Facebook integration and allows users to receive real-time updates of their Facebook friends’ statuses in the client. Considering Facebook’s move toward having the homepage show almost solely users’ status updates, that leaves me wondering why I would want to visit Facebook in the browser at all.
In a poll that Facebook is conducting for user feedback, 94% of respondents do not like the new Facebook homepage. Now, yes, taking into account the number of people who have responded, it’s true that only half a percent of Facebook users are vocal about disliking the redesign while others remain silent. It’s also true that most of the time people are resistant to change. But Facebook’s most valuable users are its most vocal and for a company that highly advertised their launch of a new real-time homepage with ultimate flexibility for its users, it is unclear why Facebook would launch a page that is neither, and not address that. In their words:
As more and more is shared, we want you to be able to find out everything that is going on in the world around you at any given moment, or shape the stream of information most relevant to you.
Despite the negativity surrounding the new homepage, Facebook’s change of “Pages” to “Public Profiles” is a smart and innovative move to allow brands to more easily share information with their fans or followers and to allow those users to feel more closely connected to those brands as friends. It’s a pity that much of that innovation has been lost in the noise.
As a fan of Facebook, I am hoping that they remedy the situation soon – not by reverting back to what they had, but by adding to the redesign some of the more addictive features that they removed.