I woke up this morning hoping that last night’s memories of Facebook were a bad dream. No such luck. If you are just an occasional Facebook user or only log in once a day, brace yourselves for the new experience that is “New Facebook”.
Here in the UK the changes started to roll out yesterday afternoon. The first thing I spotted was what looked a Twitter stream in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Interesting, I thought, I don’t direct my whole Twitterstream to Facebook anymore so what is it doing there. On closer inspection it turned out to be a streaming feed of Facebook updates from my friends. I actually quite like this. Hover over one of the updates and you see any associated comments and conversations. It is also very easy to scroll down through the list and catch up with the latest news from your friends and pages. Below that box are my events and below that….nothing! No adverts, no photo updates from friends. Apparently the absence of adverts depends on what system you are using. Phil Bradley has reported that they are visible on his desktop computer but not on his laptop. (Phil Bradley’s weblog: New Facebook, new disaster http://philbradley.typepad.com/phil_bradleys_weblog/2011/09/new-facebook-new-disaster.html). As I only have laptops here I can’t compare and contrast but I’m sure that Facebook will ‘fix’ the missing adverts problem fairly soon.
What was puzzling me was why is there an update feed on the right hand screen as well as in the main middle part of the screen? The answer is because Facebook has started messing around with how it presents the updates. Top Stories are back and very much in evidence, not as a separate link but actually inserted into the top of the feed. As with the previous incarnation there is no clue as to what criteria are used to decide which humble updates becomes top stories. I was delighted to see, though, that the first one in my news feed was a complaint about the new interface! This was quickly followed by two more in similar vein. You can get rid of them individually by clicking on the little blue corner in the upper left hand corner of the story but there is no way of removing them altogether. This is a really bad move by Facebook and one that I suspect is going to seriously annoy people.
At least I am viewing all of the updates from all of my friends, aren’t I? It turns out I am not. Some of you may recall that a while back Facebook decided to show updates only from those people with whom you interact most. Another not-so-smart move by Facebook. I am sure that many people do as I do and follow people and organisations just to keep up to date with what is happening and rarely comment or “interact” with them. That does not mean I am not interested in what they are doing. There used to be an edit option at the bottom of your feed where you could change the default to see all updates. I checked the new version of the feed and there is still an Edit options link but this now only gives you the ability to hide posts from a person, page or group. Therefore I assumed that everything is automatically appearing in my news feed. It isn’t. Hover over the name of a person in your feed and a box pops up showing their avatar, mutual friends and two ticked buttons labelled Friends and Subscribed. When I clicked on the Subscribed option I saw that I was getting “Most updates”, not all.
I mostly use Facebook to keep up with close friends and family and there are times when it is important that I receive ALL updates. I have not yet found a way to change this setting for all of the people I follow on Facebook; it has to be done one at a time. I can understand that one may not want to have the same setting for all friends so an obvious solution would be to have an option associated with lists. This brings me to my final disaster in New Facebook.
I have been playing around with lists in Facebook for a couple of months and was pleased to read that New Facebook was to implement a much easier way of managing them, much in the style of Google+. New Facebook displays its own default list names, such as Family and Close Friends, on the left hand side of the screen and suggests who you might like to add to each one. Most of these suggestions are nonsensical. You can create new lists of your own but what about existing lists compiled under Old Facebook? Can they be incorporated into one of the default lists or form the basis of a completely new one? Mine can’t because they have vanished into thin air! I have no idea where they have gone, the help files are useless on this and no-one else seems to have experienced the problem. I am rebuilding my family and ‘important people’ lists but I can’t be bothered to go any further than that. And there is no option to change the Subscribed options for a whole list. If there is it is very well hidden.
Overall I do not like the changes and find some of them infuriating. I shall probably now be using Google+ a bit more, but some of my close friends and family are only on Facebook so it looks as though I shall still have to visit at least once a day. I do so under protest.