This morning Australia caught up with the rest of the world and acquired the ‘new’ Facebook interface amid the usual howls of protest. Oh, yes, I know that for many people, the howls will subside to mutterings and soon they’ll have forgotten there was ever another way. But for me anyway, this latest effort might well be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. It’s taken a while, as the Facebook team has nibbled at my nerves and tested my mettle. Here’s a few I particularly remember.
1. Newsfeed defaults to your usual crowd
The first change that I found disturbing was when they changed the newsfeed so that it only showed the people with whom you often interact. It sounds good upfront, just talk to your usual crowd and the setting could be changed at the flick of a switch. But the alteration was hidden in the small print and needed for a few people to tell everyone else how to make the change back to seeing all news feed. It’s also self-perpetuating; if you don’t see what others are doing, how can you interact with them?
2. Press <enter> and you post
Sure, it saves a key stroke – provided you don’t want to paragraph your post. (In that case, you’d had to use shift/enter twice to add a blank line.) But we were all used to pressing <post>. Was this to emulate Twitter? Or so we could edit a comment (if we were quick)? It’s another thing one becomes accustomed to – but they were inconsistent. It doesn’t work like that on ‘fan’ pages.
3. Messages and chat were intermixed
All of a sudden all those little bits of inconsequential back and forth between me and some other person were mixed in with messages we’d exchanged. I was more than a little bit bemused to discover that all those bits of chat were still there, saved in some filing system in the sky. Silly of me, really, what goes on the net stays on the net. Nobody asked me if I wanted to see chats from 3 years ago. There it was. I sent messages to people when I wanted to keep the info (or not, as the case may be). Once again, what I wanted was pre-empted.
4. I could be added to groups without my permission
Back in the day, you invited people to groups. Then, if they wanted to join, the choice was theirs. Now, people can add me to groups without asking me. If I want out, I have to elect to do so. Then, if I change my mind, I have to ask to join and the request has to be approved. What is this? A pre-approved application for something I didn’t ask for? Do me a favour.
5. And now there’s f@#$ing tickertape
Fortunately, FB saw some sense and removed the hated chat interface they introduced down the right hand side of the page. But now they’ve brought in tickertape. I don’t know about you, but I HATE that little line of moving type down the bottom of the TV screen when news broadcasts or the morning show are on. Why? Because it distracts me and I read the damn thing instead of watching the show. A few posts ago I listed the five things I hate about websites. One I didn’t post (but plenty of other people did) was moving widget thingumebobs, which is what this tickertape thing is.
And all this without saying much about FB’s attempt to emulate Google +’s circles. I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing – it preserves privacy. The difficulty is that on FB it has to be retro-fitted which is always a problem. Good luck to them, I guess.
One thing very noticeable around FB this morning was a plethora of signs saying things like ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. I know there won’t be a general stampede for the exit – many of us have too much invested in Face Book. But I’ve been sidling towards the way out for a time, now. I might keep a presence there but if I find a better way of doing my network social interaction, I will.