Backlash against Facebook widens with announcement of new changes

By Muriel Kane
Friday, September 23, 2011 21:49 EDT
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Facebook is currently in the throes of one of its recurring seasons of user discontent. The social network has made changes before that left many subscribers vowing to find another source for their networking fix, and every time it has blown over, But the outrage this time may have a bit more momentum.

The upheaval began on Wednesday with complaints that changes in the News Feed designed to make Facebook more competitive with Google+ and Twitter were actually making it harder to use. A survey reported by PCMag indicated that 86% of all users — and 91% of teens — wanted to see the site revert to its old format.

The confusion increased by several orders of magnitude on Thursday, however, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined additional changes, including the upcoming introduction of a new Timeline format that will replace the Profile and Wall, along with a scrolling ticker. The updated format will also integrate media such as Spotify and Netflix into users’ pages.

“The recent update with the news feed and ticker, we’ve actually been testing that with people for months,” Zuckerberg insisted to reporters. “We brought a lot of people into the office, to get their feedback.” Facebook executives also emphasized, according to PCMag, that “users will be able to maintain granular privacy settings for each piece of content, essentially showing different Timelines to different groups of users.”

These promises of privacy, however, were almost immediately thrown into doubt when it was reported by ology.com that the new design will make it far easier to tell when someone has unfriended you. Once the Timeline layout is activated, it will be possible to call up a list of everyone you’ve ever friended — with those who have cut you off their own lists being specifically indicated.

By Friday, even @AnonyOps — one of the Twitter accounts representing the hactivist group Anonymous — was chiming in on the changes, asking, “Is a trend emerging? Is it becoming hip to ditch facebook? Methinks yes.”

And once you’ve lost the hackers and the hipsters, what do the other 800 million matter?

Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane
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