About a month ago, Facebook released some updates to the Facebook homepage.
These updates included more granular options for viewing status updates from friends, the ability to more easily sort friends into different groups, a real-time activity ticker, and an updated algorithm in regards to calculating which status updates are most important for each particular user.
I personally enjoy these updates as it makes Facebook a much more powerful social media platform.
The overwhelming majority of Facebook users however, were not so receptive of the Facebook homepage updates.
The ironic part of the whole situation is that the homepage updates are just the beginning of the updates that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have planned.
On Thursday, September 22, Facebook announced a complete overhaul of the profile pages and a major update to the Facebook Open Graph application system.
I enabled Facebook Timeline right after the conference (you can enable Timeline too) and since, have really been enjoying it.
The update completely changes the look of the Facebook profile page. Your profile page is now a constantly updated timeline of your life. Your information, pictures and online activities are much more visible to your friends than before so make sure that you prepare your Facebook profile for the Timline update.
List of 2011 Facebook Updates
- Customized Home Page View
- Facebook Timeline Profile Page
- Activity Ticker
- Ability to Categorize Relationships
- Ability to Subscribe to a User’s Public Posts
- Updated Open Graph API
- Video Chat
Concerns with the 2011 Facebook Updates
There are a number of privacy concerns regarding the 2011 Facebook updates.
The Timeline feature makes all of your activities and posts much more visible to your friends. Your friends can see updates on your profile from much farther back in time.
Pictures with ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends will appear on your profile, lifetime events (graduation, new jobs, etc.) will be front in center on your timeline and posts that you thought only a few people would see, will now be more visible in general.
The new Facebook activity ticker shows your friends activities in real time. Because of that, your friends can also see your activities in real time. If you post a message on somebody’s wall, the activity ticker will notify all of your friends about it.
Previously in Facebook, all of your posts were visible to your friends and nobody else. With the recent updates users have a much more granular level of control over their posts. If you want to post an update to just 5 of your friends, you can do so. In this respect, the privacy controls are actually better than they were before.
Along with the increased ability in controlling who sees what posts, comes an increase in user confusion. Non-techie Facebook users may not fully understand the difference between public and private posts. You may post something to a friends wall that you believe only they can see when in reality the whole world can see.
Once users become more familiar with the new Facebook privacy controls, they will realize that they actually have more options than before. Until then however, there is going to be a rather steep learning curve in getting acquainted with privacy control in Facebook.
- Learning Curve
Facebook began as a simple social networking tool for only college students. It has now evolved to the most popular social sharing platform in the world.
Facebook is not longer just used by teenagers and young adults but also by mothers, uncles and even grandmothers.
Younger generations can more easily adapt to technological changes as they’ve grown up with the internet and computers.
Older generations however, have more trouble in adapting to technological changes and as the average age of a Facebook user is increasing rapidly, a large portion of Facebook’s user base will feel frustrated, confused and left behind.
They key to dealing with the increased learning curve in Facebook is to take it slow. There is really no stopping innovation and change in the social media industry. Each social media platform wants to be the best and none of them will stop innovating and updating until they feel they’ve achieved all that they can.
Your job as a user is to stayed as informed as possible. Read tutorials, try new things and don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone.
- Too Much, Too Fast
A lot of Facebook users are still complaining about the very basic updates that were performed regarding Facebook users’ homepage.
By initiating much larger updates directly after the minor, albeit controversial updates, Facebook is basically telling the world that they don’t care about the opinions of their users.
Unfortunately Facebook is so big and popular now that, regardless of whether users are happy or upset about the updates, they will continue to use Facebook in order to communicate with their friends.
I believe that in lue of these updates, Facebook will lose some users. In the long run however, the platform’s user base will continue to grow and that is all that the company really cares about.
Do you think teenagers that are creating a Facebook account for the first time care about what Facebook was like 3 years ago? Of course not. They care about what it is like today and regardless of what that is, they’re going to learn how to use it. The rest of us better keep up or we’ll be left behind in the dust.
Concluding Opinion on the 2011 Facebook Updates
The updates Facebook has made are definitely controversial. Mostly because the rapid changes are not in sync with the desires of Facebook’s older user base.
From a technological and functional standpoint however, the updates make Facebook a much more powerful and robust social media platform.
Long time users will be upset, new users will be confused but I believe the end result will be positive.
Our ability to share information and communicate will increase and in a couple years we may even forget about how controversial the 2011 Facebook updates actually were.
With the way technology is advancing these days, it may just be a valuable lesson for all of us to learn how to adapt the way we use a system in response to change.