Facebook launched a redesign today (September 5, 2006) which changed the layout of the homepage and introduced a few new features. The Facebook redesign introduced, "News Feed" which on the surface appears to be an excellent feature. It leverages the users attention to show the most recent activity of the 9.5 million users in the community and displays it on the homepage. The "News Feed" display items in a feed reader like "river of news" stream of Facebook updates. The redesign enables Facebook to harness the attention of its users as TechCrunch highlighted by saying:
"It’s interesting because Facebook clearly gets the idea of an attention metastream, where page views aren’t the currency that matters but rather how effectively the service allows users to communicate. Facebook users will now have a much easier way of staying up to date on what their friends are up to."
Alternatively, the users, mostly undergraduate students around the country do not agree, as they find the "News Feed" feature (shown to the right) an invasion of their privacy and "basically creepy." Using the "groups" feature of Facebook to rally together, one user, Ben Parr of Northwestern University, created a group called "Students Against Facebook News Feed." The group's description reads as follows:
"We want to feel just a LITTLE bit of privacy, even if it is facebook. News Feed is just too creepy, too stalker-esque, and a feature that has to go."
Open since early this morning "Students Against Facebook News Feed" already has over 60,000 members and is growing literally by the minute (it was only 50,000 members when I started writing this article). Group members are pledging to stop updating their profiles until the new features are removed or altered. There is also a call to "boycott" Facebook on September 12th.
Will users grow more comfortable with the new design? Or will more of the 9.5 million Facebook users join the revolt? It will be interesting to see how Facebook handles the situation since privacy settings have remained the same yet students feel more exposed.
*Special thanks to LBJ for assisting with this article.