Sunday, October 25, 2009

Facebook changes flip out users

Those of us that follow this kind of stuff knew on Friday (or earlier) that changes to Facebook were coming.

The Facebook blog (and several hundred tech blogs) highlighted the story.

In reality, most Facebook users don't read tech news ....and even if they did, the story disappeared entirely under the weight of the Windows 7 launch on Thursday.

For the majority, the changes to the so-called 'newsfeed' log-on page came as a complete surprise, and as with any change, the reaction from the masses was ..... "Huh? ... Where's my stuff?".

So here's a quick explanation.

This isn't Facebook's first change.  They've tested and implemented changes to the interface numerous times.

This IS the first time that I can remember that they changed it without letting you preview it first.  They simply went ahead and did it.


If the numbers posted by founder Mark Zuckerberg are accurate, Facebook has over 300 million registered users worldwide (Yes, you read that right .....approx the entire population of the United States!).

Talk about messing with success?

Even though Facebook is trying to be a little bit of everything to everybody, and while that may be a good idea, it complicates the formula for the everyday user. From the reactions so far, that's probably an understatement.

An easier-to-navigate new front page, with a user option to try it first, probably would have been a better path.

So what goin' on here ??

As most 'techies' know, not long ago Facebook BOUGHT Friendfeed .  Most loyal Friendfeed users were not only a little 'upset' at the time that their favorite network was being acquired in the early stages, but the odds were on a Google acquisition and this deal caught almost everyone off guard.

The new newsfeed you're currently seeing on Facebook is more-than Friendfeed inspired.  It is a little bit of Friendfeed (without some of Friendfeed's awesome features).

The posts with the most 'Likes' or comments will now bump up to the top ... or at least that's what it's doing for now.  Potentially a good move over time as more people will be seen interacting .... and you'll discover more users.  (IE: Works for them ... and may work for you).

For now, almost everyone I know outside of tech is not happy with this.  It's not just change, or resistance to change, it's a wholesale change to the page you first see when you log on, without any prior explanation for most users.

On the other hand ... Friendfeed loyalists probably love it.  I actually do and already spent more time on Facebook this weekend than I have in months.

This is gonna be a rough one but since Facebook is far and away the largest social network in the world, I suppose they felt they could get away with it.

We'll see.

For now, it's either get just used to it, let you comments be heard on the Facebook blog ... or you can always just give up ..... and play Farmville :)

Update:  While we're on the subject for those that haven't noticed, CNN has also re-launched their website as well.

edited for content Oct 25 11 AM ET