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Facebook updates home page, irks users (again)

Stop me if you've read this before: Facebook just revised its home page, and many users of the popular social-networking site are confused or annoyed by the results.

facebook_live_feed.jpg

That happened in March, when the Palo Alto, Calif., company swept away its home page's modular design to present a single column of updates that flowed down the screen (and then fine-tuned the new setup over the next few weeks). Now the story seems to be repeating itself with the revisions Facebook rolled out on Friday.

(Note: The same sort of thing can happen when newspapers change their print format.)

The redesign eliminates one of the least-useful aspects of the old home page, the "Highlights" section that either spotlighted paid ads or told you about things you'd already seen. The default "News Feed" now acts more like Highlights, displaying what Facebook thinks were the most interesting updates of the past day. A Facebook blog post explaining the redesign isn't terribly clear about what ranks as "interesting," saying only that the site considers "a variety of factors including how many friends have liked and commented on it and how likely you are to interact with that story."

Next to the News Feed headline, a "Live Feed" heading provides access to the latest activity of your friends -- including details once available if you clicked through to a user's own profile, such as additions to their friends lists. If you stay on the News Feed view, a number to the right of the Live Feed link indicates how many updates are waiting there (seven in 15 minutes this morning). Or you can switch to Live Feed as your regular view and watch news from your pals bubble up throughout the day.

Nothing in this seems too upsetting to me. That may be because I'm already in the habit of refreshing Facebook's home page every few minutes in a desperate attempt to avoid doing actual work.

Or perhaps I'm just more forgiving than some Facebook users. Many comments on the company's blog post have been less than complimentary. One user, who may have been further enraged by a malfunctioning Caps Lock key, demanded: "CHANGE THE SYSTEM BACK TO THE WAY IT WAS. YOUR IDEA OF UPGRADING IS DOWNRIGHT STUPID AND OBNOXIOUS."

Bitter Facebookers quickly set up dozens of groups to protest the change. For example, a group declaring that "The New Facebook 'Live Feed' Sucks!" had 12,582 members as of 10:46 this morning. (Granted, that's about .004 percent of the site's roughly 300 million users.) Other, less populated groups condemn the Live Feed as "lame," "crap" or "creepy."

(Also predictable: the emergence of a "Facebook Live Feed Drinking Game!" group.)

Now remember, the good old design that all these folks want restored isn't that different from the one that everybody hated back in March.

Maybe I should be happy, then, that yet another Facebook protest group -- "I AUTOMATICALLY HATE THE NEW FACEBOOK HOME PAGE" -- has drawn 18,739 members. Its motto begins:

I HATE CHANGE AND EVERYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH IT

I WANT EVERYTHING TO REMAIN STATIC THROUGHOUT MY ENTIRE LIFE

But to judge from the comments there, some Facebook users find sarcasm as hard to grasp as change.

Do you mind the changes? Did you even notice them? Or are you tired of hearing about Facebook news and would rather complain about The Post's redesign instead?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  October 26, 2009; 11:27 AM ET
Categories:  The Web  
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Comments

They more or less restored the home page design to the way it was before the last major redesign. It's fine with me, though more customization options would be welcome, and I'd rather see time stamps on posts, rather than "about 2 hours ago". For about an hour last Friday, the page was automatically updating--as it did before March's redesign--but then it stopped. I'd like that back, too. And I don't mind that I can once again see who befriends whom, because it is how I become aware that mutual friends have joined Facebook. It's funny, many of my Facebook friends who hated the last redesign also hate this one that brought back old features.

Posted by: ZF-MD | October 26, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

You would think that users would be used to Facebook being redesigned every so often. It happens often enough that it should not be that big of a surprise or even hastle. I am just glad the option to block posts from games like Mafia Wars and Farmville hasn't been done away with. I really don't care that my friend is a level 1000000 mob boss or that she posts pictures of her farmville farm on her profile.

Posted by: ThatGuy1 | October 26, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Or are you tired of hearing about Facebook news and would rather complain about The Post's redesign instead?
-----------------------------------
I want to complain--bitterly--about the pop-up video that appears on washingtonpost.com's new Metro home page EVERY time I go there. Some perky woman insists on pointing out all the new features of the page, even though I can clearly see them by myself. Our tour guide cannot be closed, despite stabbing the "x" icon repeatedly. Her cheery voice echoes throughout my office until I manage to shut the speaker off. Now everybody knows I'm reading the Post instead of working. Send her back to her job on the Tourmobile!

Posted by: swmuva | October 26, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a big redesign complainer. I can get used to changes (even though the Post's sentence case headlines secretly drive me crazy). But as you yourself say, the new default is to use the least-useful aspect of the home page (the old Highlights). Oh well, I switched it to Live Feed, and that's good enough.

Posted by: briandau | October 26, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I understand the need to redesign and keep up with the Joneses for Facebook. But their mistake was, I think, in putting the edit options on the individuals own posts, instead of what they wanted to see. I have no problem changing my options so I'm not spamming my friends, but apparently, some people are incappable of changing their options! If I'm friends with someone only for Mafia Wars, I don't want to know they've looked at a video or joined a different page. Let ME make the decision to turn off the videos without blocking a person!

Posted by: Sara | October 26, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

This is one way to fix Facebook: Go to "Home" at top left. Click on "More" at the bottom of the list in the left sidebar. Drag "Status Updates" to the top and click on it.

Posted by: SW-DCWaterfront | October 26, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I'd be happier if they worked more on security and less on cosmetics. I don't take quizzes or play games, and I have a 13-character multi-character password on my email and account. But someone was able to post "financial windfall" comments on my friends' walls. When I contacted Facebook, they shut down my account and never ever responded again. That was last month.

Posted by: mwcob | October 26, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

The only thing I didn't like about the change is that it was done without an announcement of any kind, meaning I had to puzzle out what Facebook was up to. What's so hard about an announcement? It's like they go out of their way to annoy their users.

Posted by: charodon | October 26, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I noticed the change, but my biggest problem with it was the fact I didn't know what the difference was between them. I could tell the live feed was the same thing as the basic feed, but I had no idea what the news feed was supposed to represent. It didn't help that the news feed didn't have anything that I immediately processed as news. Perhaps they should change the name to make it something more clear, like "Friend Highlights.

Posted by: fletch02 | October 26, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

@charodon I don't think they go out of their way to annoy their users so much as they just don't give a damn about their users.

Posted by: -bwg | October 26, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

The news should not be about Facebook redesign as much as it should be about Facebook's real problems: logging on, losing the entire friend list, in-box not accessible, inability to access or reply to messages. All these problems come and go and come and go. Many of us users got others to join Facebook and we have come to depend on it, especially for organizing and announcing events, many of which are fund-raisers. Facebook wants to boast 300 million users, but how many are actually accessing? Advertisers want to know.

Posted by: mfp1 | October 26, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Facebook is getting notorious for its problems! I can't write on my wall. None of my game updates are showing up. My friends' progress are running 4 hours behind time. It is horrible. I am getting input from half of my friends. I think either hackers or bugs are taking over some games. What do we do when the owners ignore the users?

Posted by: marilynmota | October 26, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

after some initial wandering around the site,i figured it out. i don't mind when they make changes that make it easier to navigate. some changes are made just to make the site faster which is always better.
AOL does the same thing, only they do it so they can load more ads, which really IS annoying.

Posted by: mollytjm | October 27, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Facebook has now morphed into a twitter clone with the new changes. Instead of trying to be Facebook, they are constantly trying to change into the social network du jour.

Posted by: stikyfingas | October 27, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I don't know about facebook making people angry, but I sure do know about The Post printing articles that are totally irrelevant to my life!

Posted by: smckaho420 | October 27, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I dislike the new feed(s) because I can't hide the games, get rid of who friended who...I don't care about that. I want to see their posts, their wall-to-wall comments, and that's it...all without the repetitive Ajax errors it throws 2 or 3 times a day.

Posted by: bagend | October 27, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Geez!

"I'd be happier if they worked more on security and less on cosmetics. I don't take quizzes or play games, and I have a 13-character multi-character password on my email and account. But someone was able to post "financial windfall" comments on my friends' walls. When I contacted Facebook, they shut down my account and never ever responded again. That was last month."

Posted by: chunche | October 27, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

It would be nice to be told that the page is changing. That is my only complaint.

Posted by: bbirdy202 | October 27, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

The Post is fine. Otherwise, I generally object to home-page redesigns. A company will change everything, put a note on highlighting the "improvements," and it takes me twice as long to do anything on it. Changes to airline web sites especially drive me bananas.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | October 27, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Someone sent me a way to get the home page back to its former incarnation. Look at the upper left of the page where it says "More." Click on that. Then drag "Status Updates" to the top and click on it. It becomes your default page. Worked for me.

Posted by: jbcjd | October 27, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Facebook is that most of the people working there are kids. They don't have enough experience with large scale software products to know that software that changes without notice is BETA. Just like Gmail did, FB really should be stamped with a beta tag to let people know it might change. Otherwise, they're making changes to production, and that really shouldn't happen..

Posted by: john65001 | October 27, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

* Folks complaining about basic Facebook site malfunctions: I haven't seen those happen in my own account (knocks wood), but one of my colleagues did see his friends list vanish and then reappear without explanation. It is a real risk with any complex database, and Facebook's has to be more complex than most.

* ZF-MD: I'd like time stamps too. Maybe this is another way Facebook is trying to look a little like Twitter?

* bagend: Sure you can. You'll see the usual "Hide" menu appear if you park the cursor to the right of a News/Live Feed item.

* john65001: Do you really think anybody paid any attention to Gmail's "beta" tag after, oh, the first two years of it?

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | October 27, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Very good article Rob on a subject that has been highly publicised over the past month.

I recently had a book published on the subject of facebook statuses that gives an insight into life in the 21st century via Facebook Statuses called 'is: The Phenomenon of the Facebook Status' (www.theisbook.com) so I have been monitoring this for quite a while, and this is like when they took the 'is' of the status bar and everyone freaked out! Yeah, freaked out! We live in a crazy world, and I am sure that we can get used to the new Facebook changes, like we get used to everything else!

People if you really want help with what you submit to the world via facebook, dont complain about the new changes, instead go and have a peek at the Facebook Status Generator on this website.

http://www.theisbook.com/status-generator

Keep up the good work Rob, looking forward to reading more of your stuff mate

Posted by: phwalsh | November 1, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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