Facebook 4.1: A Review
By: Nikki Little
I’m not sure which “release” this current Facebook version is, but allow me to provide one man’s review on the new layout of the popular social network: I could get used to this.
We and others have panned Facebook’s seemingly dogged pursuit of reinvention, and we have applauded a move to going back to basics in response to user demand. That being said, I think the latest version is a move in the right direction. Though it WILL take some getting used to, I think Facebook this time has gotten it right.
In case you’ve missed it, the release went live this past Friday. Among the most significant changes is the way the stream is now presented. Now, when you go to your Home page, you have two streams: a “Live Feed” and a “News Feed.” The News feed is basically a “greatest hits” version of the past days’ events, presenting an overview of the content that Facebook calculates to be of most interest to you, based on your stated interests, activity on Facebook, and the user responses to posts (such as Likes and comments, etc. — the more your friends like or comment on something, the higher probability of it appearing on your News Feed). The Live Feed is more like a real-time stream of news, similar in nature to Twitter, I suppose, but they’ve also brought back some content that many complained was removed in the last iteration of the site, such as notifications that your friends have made new connections or joined new groups.
Though, like I said, it will take some getting used to, I believe this to be a “best of both worlds” offering. Users who were fans of the “old” Facebook get back closer to the way things were before, and those who like the real-time feed can have their cake, too. They’ve also removed the much-maligned “Highlights” section on the right (incorporating that functionality into the new News Feed function) and return to prominence things like birthday notices, events, suggestions, and the like.
Side note: One odd (to me, anyway) addition is the prompt in the upper right that nudges you to breathe new life into a friend’s account that has gone dormant recently. It looks like an ad, or a new request, and seems intrusive. I’m going to write on Aunt Betty’s wall because she’s misplaced her Facebook log-in? Let Aunt Betty figure it out, and play in the Facebook sandbox or not.
I don’t hear quite the same chatter about Facebook this time around. Previous updates have sent the Twitternets ablaze with complaints…this time, not so much. I think what that suggests is one of two things: 1.) we’re getting used to getting yanked around by Facebook by now, or 2.) Facebook got it right, listened to user feedback, and actually made an improvement. My hunch is that it’s a little from column-A, a little from column-B.
This new media paradigm bears at least one resemblance to old media, and old media adages: No news is good news. More times than not, if the public isn’t skewering you in the social media universe, you’re probably doing something right. No good deed goes unnoticed, it seems.