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  • The Great Facebook Uprising of 2009

    So last Friday I noticed that lots of FB friends were voting nay for recent changes to the Facebook “layout,” and I was a little surprised: seemed to me that the layout was less cluttered post-push, with better spacing between wall posts etc. So I posted something to that effect, and oh my, was there discussion.

    It soon became clear that the main complaints were not, strictly speaking, layout issues at all, but related to all manner of other problems, which (silly me) I’d assumed were just down to my own laziness:

    First, as Alyssa pointed out, “the filtering is based on the friend/friend list level. There are no preferences you can set to filter all the application-based “sent a Marshmallow Peep” and “took a quiz” crap. If they do exist, they’re not easy to find.” (I’d assumed I just needed to go re-tune my settings, but sure enough, she was right!)

    Second, and a point that would have been lost on me since I don’t use FB with a mobile device, Kenneth noted that “I miss the news and live feeds… yeah, they got noisy at times, but I could see if you joined some professional group. Now I have to go check your profile periodically to see what you’re up to.” He linked to a Mashable post on the topic (full disclosure: given lack of mobile experience, I never read it).

    Finally, Elizabeth’s feedback was less tech-centric but probably closer to the mark for most users: “It is hard to tell who is talking to who, I keep answering things that I don’t think were intended for me! And, I don’t want to see all the people I sent “peeps” to, so why should others. I sent them, I should already know, no one else cares, but they might care if I join a really cool group. I am all about change if it makes things better, but sometimes things do not need fixing.” (My first reaction was that it was easier to tell who was speaking to whom, but that “Mr X > Ms Y” header you sometimes see is pretty selective and only works, I think, if the poster in question specifically chose “Wall To Wall”.)

    My initial read on this was that the anger around this was out of proportion to the actual problem — thought about calling it out as a proxy war for AIG FP and Sticking It To The Man in general, with a free and generally beloved Web 2.0 site unwittingly playing the role of Corporate Evildoers Everywhere, but decided against adding insult to injury given the mood in the room — but over the past few days I have to admit: they really did made some boneheaded decisions, didn’t they? For example, if I have a friend who individually uploaded 20+ photos to their account, do I really need to see ALL 20 on my home page, to the exclusion of whatever my other friends may have doing five minutes before?

    Well, it turns out someone’s created a group specifically to deal with some of these problems, and — first impressions suggest — sort out how to fix some of the poor UI that crept in last week. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you The New Facebook Mess – How to clean up your Notifications and Home Page. About to go test-drive some of their suggestions — curious to hear anyone else’s experience doing the same!


    1. Very informative post Sean, although like you, I have just accepted to new changes and have been enjoying the improvements rather than the flaws.
      But I have always been bothered by something, since the first news feed changes were made to FB, which is hearing about people who I really don’t know that well, or frankly, that you just don’t care about! In the new format you can easily customize your updates so that you only hear from people you really are interested in. For those “friends” who are not as relevant, you can “hide” them with one click of the X in the upper right hand corner of their little update box. It feels a bit ruthless, but what they don’t know can’t hurt them, right?


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