The Good and Bad Sides of Facebook Makeover

November 4th, 2009 at 12:00 am

Facebook, one of the world’s most-visited social networking sites, has often been criticized for changing its user interface one too many times.  What used to display the user profile was changed early this year to a display of your friend’s activities within Facebook called "Feeds."  On late October, that too was given a makeover and now we have two different feeds apart from the Twitter-like status updates:  News Feed and Live Feed.

Facebook differentiates the two feeds upon their debut to our homepages.  While Live Feed lets you see what your friends are up to now, News Feed highlights the most interesting activities your friends have done since yesterday.  News Feed filters the updates and activities based on different factors including how many friends have liked or commented on the update, as well as how likely you would interact with such activity.

These changes, according to Facebook, were done after consultations with different users, but not all were satisfied with the overhaul.  Let’s look at how users will benefit and affect with these recent changes.

The good side

Facebook’s News Feed has brought "warmth" to your friends’ updates, according to tech expert Robert Scoble.  "This makes Facebook much more useful because you only see the items that your friends have found important enough to comment on or ‘touch’ in some way."

News Feed also does not only filter what the Live Feed has posted, but also incorporates Highlights with it.  This makes the Events section a bit more visible on your homepage, which could be useful if you like writing on your friends’ Walls on their birthdays.

These changes encourages users to interact more with their friends, which stay true to Facebook’s mission to keep you updated on "what is going on with the people and things you care about most."

The bad side

Live Feed now provides updates in real time instead of just notifying you of new updates.  Once the feed scrolls down to make way for newer updates, it would take time finding the story that you have been reading.  Meanwhile, News Feed can also highlight stories that are neither liked nor commented by your friends, but they appear on your feed simply because people from other networks interact with it.

And because of the sudden changes Facebook brought, expect a lot of users to complain.  New groups demanding to "change Facebook back to normal" were formed, which also appeared when they first revised the UI back in March.  These groups of angry Facebookers have been generating more just-as-angry members by the day.

However, no matter how rabid their complaints may become, one thing is certain:  Facebook will continue to change, just as social networking in general continues to evolve.