Today Facebook made a strange update to their otherwise functional News Feed feature. You can read all the details at ReadWriteWeb where Marshall breaks down the changes excellently. I ended up posting a pretty lengthy comment over there so I decided to turn it into a blog post!
My personal opinion on the change is that it’s unnecessary and doesn’t add anything useful.
Since I have about 800 friends on my Facebook profile, I utilize Friend Lists to organize them (my real life friends, professional contacts etc) and can filter my News Feed according to those groups. It works nicely and allows me to see the information I choose according to my own criteria. And when I want to see general updates from all my friends, I look at the main News Feed. Lovely.
So why do I want Facebook to come along and try and filter my News Feed for me when I already have filtered it for myself just the way I like it?!
Well, I don’t. So I personally will continue to use what is now called the “Live Feed” to see all updates and will continue to filter using Friend Lists, therefore bypassing this new-fangled ‘News Feed.’
Here’s why. The filtering process FB uses is largely based on content that a user has interacted with in the past (commented on, clicked the like button etc), but there are plenty of interesting posts that I enjoy seeing that I just don’t bother to interact with in any way. So as Marshall states in his article, “Weak social connections and your personal long-tail of content are less prioritized in this view.”
Well I actually LIKE to see what my ‘weak’ social connections and long tailers are doing. In fact that happens to be one way to stay connected with those folks – through occasional interaction and knowing what’s going on in their world. That’s one of the advantages of FB for me personally.
So I think for people that use Facebook purely to keep in touch with people they know in real life or their actual friends, the new News Feed may make less of a difference to them. But for those of us that have a larger number of Friends and a mixture of Friend types – real friends, professional friends, or even people such as musicians whose updates I’m interested in but I don’t interact with – this new News Feed is a very clumsy feature.
For me personally, social networks are a way to expand my realm of contacts beyond just my immediate social circle and the new News Feed essentially keeps me in my own bubble, so it defeats the purpose.
What do you think about the changes? How do you currently use Facebook’s features and does this affect it?
*header image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/fbouly/