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TechNewsWorld.com

Facebook Users Balk at New Dual-Feed Design

By Erika Morphy
Oct 26, 2009 12:40 PM PT

Facebook has tweaked its home page once again -- this time offering users two different feeds: The News Feed features updates ranked according to what Facebook determines to be the most enjoyable or important content posted by a user's friends. The Live Feed, which consists of all of the real-time updates from the user's network, includes a larger assortment of information, such as notifications when friends add friends.

Facebook Users Balk at New Dual-Feed Design

When users initially log on, they are now presented with the News Feed; they have the option of toggling to the Live Feed if they so choose.

Facebook implemented the dual-feed system because it wanted to make sure users didn't miss important content that might become buried in the fast-moving, real-time feed, Facebook engineer Raylene Yung wrote in the company's blog post about the change.

Facebook overhauled its home page in March when it placed the real-time feed in the center column.

Change It Back

Many Facebook users liked the change; a significant number, however, didn't -- a development that repeated itself with this latest change. Besides the sudden shift away from the familiar, users appear to dislike the News Feed's new prominence.

The usual groups have sprung up, including Change Facebook Back to Normal.

Some comments reflect resistance to having to learn something new. For example, "Not all facebook members are kids that can learn new programs in a few minutes," said Facebook user Jim Reynolds. "Us old farts take longer to learn and then we can use the program for a long time. Changing for the sake of change only pads the egos of the [programmers]."

Others offer advice on how to fix the offending News Feed. "When ur on the home page," comments Facebook user Noma Worley, "click more in the left hand corner and then move status updates to the top of the list and then click on it. it will take u back to the old fb."

The changes were bound to discomfort some users, Yung acknowledged in her post.

"We know it can be disruptive when things are moved around, but we hope that these changes make Facebook a more valuable experience for you," she wrote. "We put a lot of thought into all the changes we make to the site and do a lot of testing before releasing anything."

The company makes changes based on feedback from users and tests ideas with small groups. "After every change we make, we continue to gather feedback and iterate," said Yung.

History of Revolt

The change may be motivated, in part, by a desire to please advertisers, suggested Nataliya Yakushev, director of social marketing for FreeScore.com, as sponsored ads can be highlighted in the News Feed.

Whether that figures in the user protests is unclear, but Yakushev believes the protests are focused more on the change itself than on any possible underlying reasons for it.

Either way, the ire among Facebook users is increasing by the hour, she said. "'The New Facebook Live Feed Sucks!' had over 13,000 members as of Monday morning," she told TechNewsWorld. "Another group, 'SWITCH BACK TO THE OLD NEWSFEED!!!!' reported over 766,000 members as of Monday morning.

"The largest 'Facebook design protest group' was created last year when Facebook made some significant changes in its homepage and established a 5,000 friends limit," noted Yakushev. "The group called 'MEMBERS WANT THE OLD FACEBOOK BACK & OUR VOICES MATTER!' states on its page: 'We understand that changes are sometimes good, but when they're constantly made, they become (useless) comical. Facebook keeps making changes as though they're bored. Facebook, what are you trying to prove? Come on!'"

Managing Volume

Facebook and other social networking sites need to revamp their pages with some regularity -- if only to manage the growing volume of users, Stephanie Agresta, EVP and global director of digital strategy and social media at Porter Novelli, told TechNewsWorld.

"As more and more people join social networks and the number of data points in a news feed increase, the need for curation becomes more important," said Agresta. "As you saw recently, Twitter has introduced the concept of lists to their feed."

This latest round of changes to Facebook's homepage gives users the ability to choose between conversations that are most interesting and those that are most active -- and it's a huge win for advertisers, she noted.

"If status updates evoke more responses and conversational activity, they will get more exposure," she said. This is a definite incentive to provide real value to the community -- for individuals and brands. While some people will still continue to post what they ate for lunch, those with creativity and storytelling skills will bubble up to a larger audience."

For the people who hate the changes, Facebook gave users the ability to toggle back to a live feed, she said. "It's a vocal minority, and I'm confident that Facebook developers are out there listening to the community as they evolve these new functionalities."


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