When someone who defines herself as a "Digital Vanguard" sends out a late-night tweet that she's quitting Facebook, you know there's trouble in Mark Zuckerberg's paradise. Erin Blaskie, an Ottawa-based social media strategist, explains in 140 characters or less that Facebook's latest changes are horrible, particularly the focus on top stories in the news feed.
As soon as I log into Facebook to scan the site's new layout, I see another post from a friend urging her network to head on over to Google+ (the search engine giant's latest foray into the social space). Clearly a good percentage of the online community isn't happy with the site's latest revamp and isn't shy about sharing their dissatisfaction.
What is all the fuss about? Well, in the past week Facebook has been working hard to change everything from how we list our friends to what updates rise to the top of our news feeds. The latter of these changes is the most dramatic, highlighting popular posts and often burying chronological posts, just in case you haven't been checking updates on a regular basis and need help sifting through the clutter. It's unclear how Facebook determines what's popular, but I don't like the idea of them determining "what matters" the most in my life. Based on an informal poll on the social media news site Mashable.com, I'm not alone; 73 percent of people reported that they also hate this change.
Another new feature offers up the functionality to create "Lists," similar in some respects to Circles in Google+. On Facebook, you can add users on your own but it also automatically takes a stab at putting together these groups for you. For example, the service created a "Family" list with my account that includes my brother. As for suggestions of other people to add to this list, it recommended my brother's ex-girlfriend from 1994. In short, it's not always smart, so you need to carefully pick who makes each cut instead of relying on the computer-generated suggestions.
The "Ticker" is also a new addition, a real-time view of what your community is doing on the site. You can interact with these actions within a sidebar in the top-right corner of the page. It's interesting to just watch the updates zip by, assuming you have some time to kill. However, on AllFacebook.com Brian Carter explains that the ticker gives him a migraine, so he's posted seven ways to get rid of it fast. Not all of his feedback is helpful, including his tongue-and-cheek tip number five: Switch to MySpace.
In an effort to remove any blinders I have from living in my self-imposed social media vortex, I asked the most average Facebook user I know what she thinks of these new additions. After all, it's loud and clear that the web world is up in arms, but is my Mom – like Erin Blaskie – going to jump off Zuckerberg's ship? When I say average user, my Mom checks out Facebook once a day and plays the odd game of Scrabble on the site now and again. In our brief discussion I asked what she objectively thinks of Facebook's new makeover, how is it holding up? My mother answered that she hadn't really noticed anything different. Maybe there was a new window or two, which she just closed and moved along, uncovering new baby pictures and congratulating family members on birthdays and weddings.
So while it appears the digital crowd overwhelmingly dislikes what Facebook has rolled out, maybe the masses don't care so much, viewing the latest tweaks without alarm and continuing to click, connect and create content on what is still the most dominant social network on the planet.