Facebook users protest changes to News Feed, new 'ticker'
Maybe it's time for Facebook to finally roll out that "dislike" button.
Facebook is getting an earful about changes it made to the News Feed right before its annual developers conference Thursday.
Of course, anytime the social networking site makes changes, users revolt at audible levels. Facebook is the world's most popular social networking service with more than 750 million users, so even a small protest can stir up the Web.
The loudest protest came in 2006 with the launch of News Feed, which turned into one of the site's most popular features.
And they are complaining in comments to the official Facebook blog post announcing the changes that were supposed to help users by surfacing the most important information about their friends instead of just the most recent.
The main complaint: An algorithm that spits out your "Top Stories" by crunching factors such as which friends you interact with most and which of your friends' posts get the most comments or "likes" isn't working.
Wrote Amanda Stein: "To put it simply, I hate the new format. And I've been sending in feedback saying so since I first became an unwilling beta tester for it. It's awful. I do not want Facebook telling me what stories are important. Nearly every story so far that has been marked as a Top Story hasn't been important at all. One of my friends liking another friend's FarmVille post is not important. Another friend changing her profile picture is not important. You are acting like you've improved the functionality of Facebook but you've done the opposite."
Some users complain that it's a distraction; others are calling on Facebook to dump it. CNet is offering some tips on how to turn it off.
One concern some are raising: That the ticker can give you access to the private posts of people you are not friends with -- if a friend of yours likes a post or comments on it.
That's not true, according to a Facebook spokesman. "Commenting or liking a post doesn't change its privacy settings," he said. "If you can't see a post because of its privacy settings, it won't show up to you anywhere on Facebook including in your News Feed or in your ticker."
As for the changes to News Feed, Facebook released the following statement: "Our goal with these improvements is to make it easier for people to keep up with their friends no matter how frequently or infrequently they visit Facebook –- and to make sure they never miss important updates. In addition, ticker offers an easy way to see and chat with your friends about photos, articles, and other things they're posting in real-time. We're constantly working to make Facebook better, and we're gathering and evaluating feedback on all of our products and will continue to make improvements over time."
If this brouhaha follows the usual course, users will complain, threaten to leave and then learn to love -- or at least live with -- the changes.
The catch? There really wasn't anywhere else for people to go. Now there's a new social networking service in town: Google+ which opened to the public Tuesday.
Google drew a giant blue arrow on its home page Tuesday to direct people to sign up for Google+. It is using that valuable space again on Wednesday to promote a live hangout with will.i.am at 6 pm.
How do you feel about the changes to News Feed and the new "ticker"? Let us know in the comments.
-- Jessica Guynn
Image: Screen shot of Facebook’s latest version of its News Feed. Credit: Facebook.