the new facebook

Posted on September 30, 2006. Filed under: web 2.0 |

It has been less than a day but the new facebook interface already seems to have caused a pretty big stir. there is already an “official” facebook petition to get the feature removed (http://oxford.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2208288769) with over 8,000 people signed up already – there are several other spin off groups. i had a big debate with kul about this in the office today (if you’re looking for a different point of view then take a look at his blog but i have to say i think that facebook has gone a step too far this time.

i know facebook argue that the information is all available on facebook anyway i.e. they are not displaying any new info but just what is already there in a more efficient way. however i dont agree with that analysis – in my view there is an inbuilt barrier to entry in facebook. let’s say that i want to find out about someone, i need to do some digging e.g. reading wall posts and seeing new photos. to me that is what facebook is all about, it’s the ultimate procrastination tool because you can play detective and blissfully watch the hours roll by as you click all over the place. with the new interface however, as soon as you log on you instantly see a ton of information – which although useful info, is not something i think is best suited as being the first page you see when you log in.

with facebook i think it is necessary to distinguish the dual roles that each user plays – that of the stalker and that of the user. as a stalker i love the new interface as it makes my stalking more efficient. from a user perspective though, i will certainly be a lot more cautious in my behaviour. if i change my relationship status to single i don’t want all of my friends to see it! similarly if i happen to be incredibly bored and write on 10 walls in 5 minutes, i don’t want my page displaying to the world just how sad i am!

either way the one thing that can’t be debated is facebook’s willingness to innovate. ultimately if they decide they have gone too far this time around, they can just edit the service to give you better privacy control. i’m delighted that facebook never just sit on their huge market penetration and act all smug. they’re an inspiration to young internet companies around the world.

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