Much like Madonna, Facebook has to reinvent itself every so often or suffer banishment to the dungeons of trendy tastemakers past. (Is it lonely in there, MySpace?) But when the social-networking site debuted its latest design changes last month, users were furious. An EW.com readers’ poll revealed that 9 out of 10 ”hate” the site’s new layout. I’m one of them. What we got was not a spiffed-up marvel of Internet progress but inefficient, counterintuitive clutter. New Facebook, I am this close to unfriending you.
In time, it’s possible I’ll get used to the creepily probing ”What’s on your mind?” replacing the simple ”So-and-so is…” status update. What I can’t abide is the merging of those updates with the news feed on the now-jumbled homepage. Frequent posters — and you know who you are! — dominate the entire page, elbowing out your pithier pals who only log on every few days. With the ”less about” option gone, the sole recourse is to ”hide” certain people from your feed altogether. And that’s just cold.
What’s more, everything is suddenly your business. Wall-to-wall chats are now fully revealed for all your network to follow. If a friend sends 15 Easter bunnies to 15 different pals, you’ll have to scroll through every last one, even if none of the blasted little beasts are for you. It’s a jittery perma-flow of information that owes everything to the insta-culture of Twitter and seems to have one insidious goal: forcing us all to spend more time on Facebook. Well, thanks…but for now, I’d rather hold on to the small semblance of a real life that I’ve still got. D
Is the Face-lift really that bad? EW technology editor Margaret Lyons logs in and registers her approval.
I now have newfound empathy for the lepers of yore: My announcement that I was writing a positive review of the much-maligned Facebook redesign was met with derision and disbelief. I do agree that the revamp isn’t perfect. But the most common complaint — that it mimics Twitter — drives me crazy: Facebook’s comments are visually organized, you can see some from people that you’re not even friends with, and the content is substantially more robust than the 140-character tweets. But all that aside, Twitter’s actually pretty great — and buzzworthy, and mega-popular, and growing. There are worse leads to follow.
I also like the redesign because at its conceptual level, it focuses Facebook on what users declare about themselves. This shift toward self-reportage — the prominence of status messages — recognizes a shift in our whole attitude about online participation. It wasn’t so long ago that we had to act just a teeny bit embarrassed about obsessing over our profiles. But this latest redesign reduces the site’s tacit voyeurism and encourages new levels of candid exhibitionism. We’re prompted at every possible juncture to weigh in, to comment, to discuss, to share. If that’s not the point of Facebook, what is? B+