By Ed Oswald | Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 7:48 pm
For a market-leading company, Facebook’s moves are sometimes so half-baked that it’s practically mindnumbing. The latest example of this is the site’s new home page. For whatever reason, Facebook has tweaked the news feed to become more of a “top stories” format then a chronological timeline of your friends’ activities.
(If you’re curious, here is why the company says the change was necessary.)
Oh yes, you still can get the old layout, but that’s now something you have to click through for and is called “Live Feed.” The site has attempted to make up for this by making that feed actually real-time: you no longer have to reload for the latest updates.
This was sprung on users without any warning at all. I initially thought Facebook was choking yet again when I noticed the status updates were all jumbled up. I actually didn’t realize there was a change until I noticed a news article highlighted on Techmeme.
Apparently, neither did most of my friends. “What the hell is wrong with Facebook now?” one said. Those that did notice what just happened were not much kinder. “This new layout sucks!” was a common meme.
Now Facebook groups are popping up demanding the old news feed come back. One called “Facebook: SWITCH BACK TO THE OLD NEWS FEED!!!” has garnered some 648,000 members in just two days. Another has about 440,000 members, and yet a third with over 51,000 users.
Such rapid opposition signals to me that Facebook is going to have a lot of trouble keeping this around. But it also should be a concern to those with interests in the social networking company: it is repeatedly making questionable decisions that really seem as if they are not being thought out very well.
Facebook has grown exponentially as MySpace has collapsed. But at the same time, MySpace seemed to think through changes before it made them, or realized sometimes it’s good to leave things alone.
I see no good reason why Facebook needed to mess with the news feed. To begin with, this Twitter-like layout wasn’t really popular with its users, and now they’ve messed with it again in a move that seems to have significant opposition.
If they keep doing this, Facebook’s time at the top may not be long-lived. In the end the customer is always right.