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Facebook Changes Home Page, For Better Or Worse?

Mar 19, 2009

I wanted to write an opinion piece of this subject, even though it is now comparatively old news.

Facebook | Welcome to Your New Home Page

The biggest part of the new home page is your improved News Feed, or the stream of content that’s most relevant to you. The stream lets you know what’s happening right now in your world by showing you everything your friends and other connections, such as celebrities, athletes and politicians, are sharing. The stream also makes it simple for you to comment on content and participate in conversations in real-time.

This is the salient point, of everything I’ve heard at the office, among friends, and over the social networks themselves. How is Facebook different than Twitter now?

Obviously it is insofar as it offers more features – photo, video, highlights, notes, fan pages, groups, events… but is it now nothing more than Twitter platinum?

Also, those features are available with Twitter, though not integrated in the site. Vimeo and youtube for video, delicious, digg, and stumbleupon for links, blogger, wordpress and tumblr for notes, orkut, gotomeeting, forums and barcamp for groups, e-vite, email lists and google calendars for events…

It would seem in retrospect that Facebook is intending to build a easy-to-use semi-private internet within the internet… but moving on…

That is to say, what distinguishes Facebook’s home page interface from Twitter is now basically gone. On one hand, it makes sense for Facebook, because if they are trying to make a user-friendly semi-private internet, they would want to go with the most popular version of a particular feature. For ‘status updates’ it is currently Twitter.

Facebook brings together disparate parts or features that are popular from the internet, and allows you to have a ‘world’ – an intra-net of sorts – that belongs to you and your friends and family.

But I’ve heard complaints. The new Home page is too immediate for older (or less frenetic) people. I want to know what interesting things my friends said or did on Facebook in the past day, or maybe week; which might be notes or videos that other of my friends liked or commented on.

People who enjoy a slower pace of life, who aren’t so concerned about what is going on right now, will be repulsed. And my good friends who don’t update very often but are nonetheless of great importance to me will get swallowed up in a deluge of status updates.

The relative stickiness of certain things – like fan page adds (which are gone now entirely it seems) – seems to be a thing of the past. I like my selective ‘filtered’ world; and I’ll bet many others do as well.

Finally, the constant distraction level of Twitter (versus the old Facebook homepage) is much greater. This means that I will not be able to be on Facebook during work, possibly, at all. There is a good reason why I stay away from Twitter (or TweetDeck) for most of the day, unless I’m doing research or networking.

Does this move compromise Facebook’s position?

I am saying, yes. But I don’t know if it matters.

The two big factors for me are

1. The Loss of Fan Page ‘adds’ as sticky events on your home page (a source of viral actions) and

2. The conversion of the front page to a non-hierarchical stream. Basically, the home page is gone now.

Well, you get what you pay for, you know?

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