Facebook surprised users this morning with a whole new news feed.
The company explained its new “top stories” feature as an enhancement that combines its old practice of serving the most recent updates from friends, fan pages, groups, and other things you like, with a new sorting method that pulls up “the most interesting” updates to the top.
In a blog post explaining the changes the company said “We determine whether something is a top story based on lots of factors, including your relationship to the person who posted the story, how many comments and likes it got, what type of story it is, etc. For example, a friend’s status update that might not normally be a top story may become a top story after many other friends comment on it.”
I can verify that in my own account goofy photos with lots of comments zoomed to the top, including posts that were more than 14 hours old.
The company seemed to suggest this frontloading of old but “interesting” content would be accentuated the longer it has been since you last logged in, and in my own road test I had to scroll for several screens before new content showed up.
Facebook will let you remove items and individuals from ever appearing in your “top stories” and also allows you to customize the look and feel through dropdown menus.
In a YouTube video posted to explain the changes (see above), which also features the friends list (a clone of Google+'s Circles), the company tells users "we hope these updates make it easier to see more of what you care about on Facebook."
But as a small sampling of status updates suggests, this feature may not be intuitive, or even the default option, for a plurality of Facebook’s 750-million users:
Nathan Taylor writes: i did something wrong and now my news feed stuff sucks and i cant figure out how to fix it lol
Robert Jennings Finally, Facebook gives me what I always wanted, a News Feed within my News Feed....Yeah!! (sarcasm... for those who DON'T recognize it!)
Max Valiquette: So that's why I didn't get the new Facebook layout; I was already using U.K. English as my language (in my Account Settings, and if that's your language you won't see the new Facebook layout yet) ... we're Canadian, folks! Have we not changed the default settings on all our other apps so that they don't try to turn "neighbour" into "neighbor," and "Mulroney" into "Seacrest"?
The usual deluge of negative responses to Facebook changes did not confine itself to status updates. Writes ryan_marsh on Twitter “Did I just get stupid or did Facebook just get way harder to use?” and JanePitt chimes in “I have 2,400 facebook friends. That new scrolling update thing on the right side bar NEVER stops moving and I'm going to have a seizure.”
In a post several months ago Facebook noted that its research of status updates on the site found “positive emotional word use is higher in the mornings. Negative word use increases as the day goes on, as positivity decreases.”
It seems likely that today that trend will be reversed, or at least the negativity may increase faster.
What about you, do you like, love, dislike or hate the new Facebook? Answer in our comments below, or hit us up at @GlobeTechnology.