Do you really hate the “New” Facebook?

Recently, many Facebook users have upgraded their profile to the “New Facebook 2010”. The upgrade doesn’t offer a big change to functionality: it’s mainly a rearrangement of how the information is displayed and prioritized. Here’s a quick shakedown…

Photos: It was a smart move to focus the improvements on what brings users back to the site time, and time again – the photos. Last year alone there were over 2.5 billion photos uploaded each month.  It’s now faster and easier to browse your friends’ photos and quickly share yours. The focus on photos is reflected in Facebook’s introduction video that doesn’t show much else besides dynamic photos.

“New experiences”: This upgrade gives you the ability to list the projects you complete at work and the courses you complete at school.  This new feature is a curious addition that may be an  attempt to gain market share on LinkedIn and solicit more user information critical to the effectiveness of Facebook ads. It will be interesting to see how this is embraced (or not) by users.

“Featured friends”: This new feature allows users to sort and categorize friends based on how they are connected through real, in person, relationships – “colleagues”, “hometown friends”, “band-mates”, “soccer team”, etc.  The social value in this feature is unclear at this point and I’m not sure users would be inclined to sort though their hundreds, or thousands, of friends to segment them into specific groups with little benefit to their day-to-day activity on Facebook.

Privacy: The new profile maintained my custom settings (at least on my account), so that’s a victory for Facebook over previous upgrades.

The Downside: User backlash. Soon after people began to upgrade their profile they began to hate it. They hate it because it is different from what they are used to and they turned to their good friend Facebook to voice their displeasure. This page has over 16,000 “likes” (Dec. 15, 2010). Many users are asking for the old profile back, others are having issues finding where familiar features are located, while some aren’t impressed that old features have different behaviours.  My favourite posts are emotional/dramatic; the following post is a great example (particularly the first point):

Final thoughts: I understand that some people hate change, but it’s a great sign that Facebook continues to innovate and bring users more options. What users like will stay, what isn’t used will fall off the radar. My suggestion would be to use it for a month and get used to it. If you don’t like the new features, don’t worry about it: they will fade away in the next update. User backlash happens everytime….we all remember a similar outcry the last time we had an update in 2008.

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