Facebook Overhauls News Feed and Friends, Users Revolt

Don't want a live ticker of friends' activites? Too bad.

Headshot of Emma Bazilian

If you’ve been on Facebook today, you’ve probably noticed some big changes—and a lot of pop-ups attempting to explain them. The social network says that the new features will improve users’ experience on the site, but, as usual, the users themselves aren’t responding too positively to the changes.

The most obvious differences are on Facebook’s homepage, where there’s been a complete overhaul of the News Feed that’s supposed to turn it into “your own personal newspaper.” Instead of choosing between “top news” and “most recent,” you’ll see a permanent “top stories” section at the top of the News Feed that contains what Facebook deems to be the “most interesting stories” and photos (now in a much larger format) posted since the last time you logged on. The section is supposed to help users catch up on their friends’ activities if they haven’t been on the site in a while.

To the right of the News Feed is another new feature, the Ticker. It shows a live feed of everything your friends are doing in real time and lets you comment on their posts without leaving your current page. You can change the size of the Ticker, but you can’t get rid of it completely.

Then there’s the “improved” friend lists. Facebook now automatically sorts your friends into separate lists based on things like who went to school with you, works with you, or lives in your city. When you add friends, you can manually pre-insert them into one of these lists. There’s also a “close friends” list that you populate yourself.

When you share something, you can choose from these new lists to limit the post to just those people. And if you want to see every post from another user—which doesn’t have to be someone you’re friends with—you can use the “Subscribe” button. (Does this all sound suspiciously similar to a certain newer Googly social network? The bloggers at DailyTech think so too.)

So how are Facebook’s users reacting to the new and improved features? Not too well, it turns out. Responses to the changes on the official Facebook Blog have been almost completely negative, with users taking special offense at the “top stories” feed. (In the words of one user: “Quite frankly I don't want Facebook deciding who is most important in my life . . . You're becoming MySpace and I left there for a reason.” Ouch.) The reaction is also spilling into Twitter, where #NewFacebook is trending, along with some more angry commentary.

But perhaps the most terrifying comment, as far as Facebook is concerned: “Seriously thinking of moving to Google Plus.”

@adweekemma emma.bazilian@adweek.com Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.
Publish date: September 21, 2011 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/facebook-overhauls-news-feed-and-friends-users-revolt-135014/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT