Another Facebook design tweak, another firestorm of user outrage. The world's biggest social networking site has overhauled its user homepage yet again, this time tinkering with the News Feed — which displays friends' updates. Say goodbye to the "Top News" and "Most Recent" options. The News Feed is now one single stream, with updates deemed "Most Important" flagged with a blue triangle at the top of the feed. In a blog post, Facebook's Mark Tonkelowitz calls the new look "your own personal newspaper." A real-time news ticker now populates the top-right corner of the homepage, displaying live updates of all friends' activity. The revamped News Feed has been earning predictably negative reviews from users, who typically complain loudly about any homepage redesign. Is the "enraging" update really that bad?
No. It's "smarter" and "easier to use: The previous two-tabbed version of the News Feed caused many users to miss out on important posts, says Jason Kincaid at TechCrunch. The new design "intelligently determines how much real estate to allocate to Top Stories" based on how recently a user last logged on — which should please both rabid and infrequent users. And while the real-time ticker may not seem like a big deal, its immediacy allows you to see what posts are going viral at the moment or what's turned into a particularly active discussion among friends, making it "one of the site's most important features."
"Facebook News Feed gets smarter"
Actually, it's incredibly confusing: This new layout "sucks, period," says Ed Oswald at Beta News. The merging of everything into one strangely organized feed is more than problematic — "I have no clue how it works." And that live-updating ticker? It's "all-but seizure inducing." For a typical Facebook user who has hundreds, if not thousands, of friends, "this thing moves so fast that it's useless."
"Facebook, stop it, just stop it"
Besides, if it wasn't broke, why fix it? Facebook has fallen prey to the same sickness that affects George Lucas, says Tom LaSusa at Information Week. The Star Wars director keeps tinkering with the original iconic films, oblivious to the fact that "there was nothing wrong with the original format." The old feed was just fine — but now we can't access it. "There's no reason why Facebook couldn't offer a Classic Facebook Format option," right?
"What Facebook should learn from George Lucas"
Fear not. This storm will pass: "Facebook users love to rage about redesigns," says Jared Newman at PC World. "The real news would be if Facebook users didn't get worked up...." Beginning with the introduction of the News Feed in 2006, users complained about privacy violations. Since then, the feature has endured criticism for its "ugly" tabs, real-time updates, timelines, and Happening Now feature. None of these complaints accomplished much — and the same is true of today's whining.
"Facebook redesigns: A long history of pointless backlashes"
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