Facebook’s “Facelift” Causes Image to Sag
The popular online community Facebook recently launched a couple of new features: the News Feed and the Mini Feed. The feeds have been implemented in an attempt to let people know when and how their friends are updating their profiles on one easy-to-read screen. The result was a largely unwelcome page that gave users more information than they wanted to know about each other’s profiles, and, most significantly, more information than many were willing to give out.
When users around the country logged onto Facebook on Sept. 5 and discovered this ‘facelift,’ some were annoyed at the prospect of being greeted by a new, messy screen full of ‘news’ about their friends. Hundreds of thousands of Facebook users reacted negatively. Protest groups with names showing various levels of outrage (ranging in severity from ‘Students against Facebook News Feed’ to ‘What the FU@K just happened to my facebook and how do I make it stop!’) sprang up left and right.
By Sept. 8, Facebook creator and Harvard graduate Mark Zuckerberg issued an open letter of apology announcing enhanced privacy settings for the new features. He also invited members to join a new group he had created called ‘Free Flow of Information on the Internet,’ designed for outspoken ‘Facebookers’ wanting to put in their two cents about the issues of privacy and information control.
Despite the initial outcry that caused the Facebook team to put out the enhanced security settings in a hurry, discussion board posts in the ‘Free Flow’ group showed that not everybody felt so threatened by the changes.
In a topic started by Murray State University sophomore Austin Hibdon, titled ‘Ill-Conceived Notion of Privacy Issues,’ Hibdon challenged protestors by asking, ‘Who do you not want to see this information? Your friends?’ He then reminded users that they had complete control over whom they accepted as friends and pointed out that there was a privacy option to restrict anyone to a limited profile view.
Virginia Commonwealth University senior Omar Yacoubi added that the feeds helped open people’s eyes to just how public their information already was. ‘You should thank Mark and the feed for making you aware of just how much of your life is online,’ Yacoubi said. With the exception of one poster threatening to leave Facebook for MySpace as a result of the feed, all the contributors to this topic agreed with Hibdon’s sentiments.
Although people are clearly divided on how deeply the feeds have invaded their privacy, the prompt changes in response to protestors have led to one undeniable truth.
As Stanton sophomore Kimberly Johnson put it, ‘Facebook is a means for mass communication, and it’s certainly proved useful for … starting a huge, dramatic movement.’
To kick this topic off, University of Mississippi freshman Kristan Pittman suggested that ‘if we can get on Facebook and make this much of a [fuss] about news feed then we need to focus our energy on more important things.’
Johnson also pointed out the fact that, ironically, the feeds helped propel the growth of the anti-feed groups. Johnson said this in another ‘Free Flow’ discussion topic called ‘NEWS FEED OR WORLD HUNGER [WHAT’S] MORE IMPORTANT???????’
‘We think we actually have the power to change Facebook,’ Johnson continued. ‘And we do, right? But really big things, like world hunger, or what we don’t like about the government