How will Facebook users react to the huge changes soon to land at the world's largest social network? Anecdotal evidence suggests, not well. According to a number of informal polls, four out of five Facebook users see the upcoming facelift and new features as unpopular.
We know Facebook users are adverse to change. Just this week an anti-change Facebook campaign sprang up within hours of Facebook unveiling changes to its news feed. Now, with Thursday's f8 conference keynote by Mark Zuckerberg where he announced sweeping changes over how your Facebook profile will look and a radical new approach to collecting user data, it's a foregone conclusion some users will be outraged.
Here is quick overview of the changes and some comments from the pitchfork wielding Facebook crowd that is already amassing.
- Timeline: A whole suite of changes to user profiles that makes them wider and more visual than before and adds a number of interface and privacy controls. Timeline adds the scrolling ticker of real-time activity from friends that rolled out earlier this week and will also summarize past events in an attempt to tell the full story of users' lives, as Facebook puts it. (see:Timeline Layout: A Getting-Started Guide)
- Media and app integration: Music from Spotify and news from Yahoo (more Facebook integration is already rolling out on the Yahoo News' site) are among the new "Open Graph" apps that will soon allow for real-time interaction, like listening to the same song at the same time as friends.
- Privacy filters: A new private activity log will provide control over what gets displayed on profiles and what doesn't.
- Cover photo: A huge banner makes the top of your profile page look more blog-like.
This week's sneak peek at the tectonic redesign changes coming soon to Facebook has clearly already stirred the pot of social networking discontent.
"What Facebook needs to understand is that every user is different. What Facebook should do is offer the extra options instead of forcing them on us users," writes PCWorld reader BikDav. "That way, we can choose what we need and what we don't need."
Complaints about Facebook's new features have also provided new ammunition for the ongoing battle with Google+, which just opened its doors to the public this week after a twelve-week closed field test.
"I am seeing nothing but complaining about the new Facebook features on my Google+ page," observed PCWorld reader stewdanko.
A poll released just hours after the f8 announcements on Thursday by SodaHead, an online community and survey site founded by a former MySpace VP, found 84 percent of over 1400 users surveyed disapproved of Facebook's facelift.
PCWorld's Facebook page seems like the most likely place to find some words of support for the changes, but our own informal survey returned the same findings. A quick review of over 50 responses to our request for comments on the redesign posted within the first twelve hours following the f8 announcement shows less than 20 percent expressed support for the new Facebook. The word "sucks" dominated the conversation and the merits of Google+ were widely espoused.
"Organized chaos or shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. I pick the latter. It's not working for me," comments Heather Carey on the PCWorld Facebook page.
A handful of people that responded to our request said they were excited about the new features, and others didn't understand what has so many people in a tizzy.
"Really don't get why everyone's complaining," wrote Ted Geistlinger in the comment stream. "In the end it'll be for the best. I don't feel sorry for people who are complaining that the free service that they aren't obligated to use is making minorly inconveniencing changes."
Such complaints are a familiar refrain, one that was heard years ago when Facebook introduced the idea of status updates, and when that was expanded to the News Feed. Today, both concepts are part of the daily lives of almost one-sixth of humanity. Will we all come around to the new Facebook? Or is the social network sinking under its own weight? What do you think?