Fun: the missing new Facebook feature

Navigating through the new interface feels a lot like work


It’s either Facebook or it’s me: one of us has lost the plot.

Like most people, I’m baffled by the new layout. The faux-Twitter feed with its annoying pop-up balloons, crammed in the top right corner, is apparently called the “Ticker.” It competes for my attention with a list of my online friends below. Some have green dots next to them, and some phone icons. Some suddenly pop up, demanding live text chats. Do I have a green dot? I haven’t a clue.

My traditional News Feed has changed–the friends I want to hear about seem to be gone, replaced by others Facebook has prioritized by some mysterious logic. Someone posted instructions on how to change this back, but I can’t remember who it was and what to search for. Between the News Feed and the Ticker (and isn’t the Ticker also a News Feed?), there are faces of strangers I am encouraged to “subscribe” to. What does that mean? Has “friending” become “subscribing”? Will they know I’ve subscribed to them? How about everyone else? Who has subscribed to me?

Here and there I see odds and ends I’ve never used and never will, like “Lists” and “Ask a Question.” There are two “Events”  buttons on either side of the page. Somewhere in the dark recesses of my profile is a “Group” I started years ago. I tracked it down, and was told that Facebook will soon be “archiving” (deleting?) it, and I’d better start a “Page” instead, which I guess is better. But I can’t be bothered to bother everyone for this. I tried to turn on the new “Timeline” layout to see what it’s all about, but when I clicked “Sign Me Up”, Facebook rejected me. Is the feature unavailable to me specifically, or to all Canadians? Am I too late, or will everyone eventually be automatically “Timelined”? The prompt won’t say.

So what do I need all this for?

I find myself spending less and less time on Facebook these days.  As it turns out, that doesn’t stop Facebook from spending more and more time on me. Even when I’m logged out, Facebook’s sticky cookie is tracking me, reporting my surfing habits back to the Zuckership.

Nasty invasions of privacy from Facebook are nothing new, but in the past one could tolerate those trespasses because the site was so engaging.  I never trusted it, but I found it entertaining, so I kept coming back.  But lately my sessions have become baffling and unpleasant. Managing my profile feels a lot like work.

I’m not ready to leave just yet–that still feels too much like opting out of social life itself. But I’d increasingly like to leave.

And I can’t imagine I’m the only one.


Fun: the missing new Facebook feature

  1. I’ve always loved social networking, and I’ve always hated Facebook. Of course, I used it because it was the only game in town. But it’s been a constant battle with them, fighting over privacy issues, ignoring the most basic user complaints (like the pervasive spamming of game notifications in the news feed). I’ve just been putting up with it, waiting for something better to come along.

    Google+ is that “something better”. From day one, they addressed some of the most basic issues that Facebook has ignored because it never had the motivation to care (at least I assume that’s the reason). Yes, it’s new. Yes, it’s missing a lot of functionality (for now). Yes, Facebook is rolling out updates to keep up, in fact they’re throwing out updates left and right. But Google+ excites me, because I’m confident that it’s going to be great. I know that, down the road, it’ll be just what people want it to be. It’ll be simple social networking if we want that, it will offer much more if we’re looking for that as well. We will each choose our own level of involvement, without feeling overwhelmed. Google seems a lot more concerned with making a great user experience, and I just feel like I’m in good hands. Facebook has always been the opposite, at war with its users – that’s how I’ve always felt, anyway.

    It’ll be awhile still before everyone’s on Google+, but it will happen. It’s inevitable. And the world will be a nicer place.

  2. Huh. Funnily enough, I`ve always avoided facebook specifically because I felt uncomfortable about calling people I hardly knew.. and many that I know rather well.. ‘friends’.  Unfortunately, with more and more companies and organizations moving to facebook for promotions and to present info about them or events they run, I`m finding I have to reconsider that avoidance.

    If they change it to subscribing to these various feeds, rather than friending them, that might ease one nebulous hang-up of mine.

    Of course they still don`t address that it`s a pain in the arse to keep other people from seeing what I`m up to. I realize that`s kind of the whole point of facebook — we all be happy hippy free love type folks sharing everything and anything, but I ain`t there. Not by a long shot.

    Looking at Google+, the idea of these `circles` of people could handle that.

    • I could never get people trying to shape a free service according to their own ineptitude.

      That’s like walking into Wallstreet and then saying “I can’t come back here, that ticker, it’s just too fast.”

      • And if I were trying to do that, you’d have a point.

        However, since you’ll note that I say that I don’t meet the shape of the facebook design, not that it should change to meet mine, you’re simply pointless.

        • There’s like a word or two dividing your argument from those who complain about the pains of being on facebook… so yah, I glossed over your comment and came to a quick conclusion.

          But I still don’t people who expect Facebook to cater their specific needs just because they are users of the free service. 

  3. Slacktivists need hugs.

  4. You read my mind. The honeymoon is over. I’ll hang on a bit longer but soon will drift away.

  5. The last “change” was the last straw for me. I deactivated my account, but I’m sure my info is still being circulated by Facebook.

  6. Brown   I am curious to know why don’t mind when Facebook evades your privacy because it is engaging but always get annoyed when State evades your privacy. 

    What is the difference? 

    Mussolini ~ All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state

    Montreal Gazette, Sept 2011:

    Hughes left Facebook in 2007 to work for the campaign of U.S. President Barack Obama, where his networking site My.BarackObama.com, allowed Obama supporters to create groups, plan events, raise funds and download tools, and also raised $30 million on 70,000 personal fundraising pages.

    Wired, April 2011:

    President Barack Obama held a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters here Wednesday afternoon with a packed audience of engineers who built the social networking site that some say was responsible for Obama’s 2008 election.

    CBC Sept 2011

    But this past weekend, the online security and privacy community was abuzz with another big Facebook story: allegations from Australia-based entrepreneur and hacker Nik Cubrilovicthat “Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit ….. 

    The concern here is how the unique identifier that Facebook leaves on your computer could be associated with your online behavior on any site that integrates Facebook. For instance, the CBC web site has Facebook Like buttons. And so do health information websites. Pornography websites have Like buttons. The question is, do you really want those Like buttons to be able to access a unique ID that could be tracked back to your Facebook identity?

    • Fair question Tony.  I guess it’s because when Facebook invades my privacy, it’s in order to sell me stuff- or perhaps in order to sell me to people who want to sell me stuff. It’s kinda icky, but it’s unlikely to have a meaningfully negative impact on my life.  When the State invades my privacy, it’s usually to see if I’m a criminal who should be harassed, locked up, or hassled when I travel across borders.  Neither are okay, but it’s weird to me that social media is the focus of so much concern and suspicion, while State surveillance goes largely unnoticed and undiscussed. 

      • Since summer incident with Anthony Weiner, I have been reading a bit about computers and psychology. There is illusion of privacy when you are alone in front of your computer and people don’t remember that whatever naughty things we get up to on internet are actually quite public due to ip addresses and private companies that unwittingly collect info on us. 

        I started working from home in 2000 and it was around same time that email and websites first started to gain wide prominence. I am only 40 yrs old but for as long as I can remember, I have had problems with authority figures and when I first discovered internet I was freaked out. All these temptation at my finger tips but Governments are well known snoops. 

        With all the different delights on offer via internet, State is bound to want to regulate and regular people are going to get in lots of trouble because we have hard time resisting temptations. 

        Oscar Wilde ~ The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it… I can resist everything but temptation.

  7. Facebook is becomisng far too much like work.

    And the implied contract we make with facebook (our data and marketing value for their platform) is beginning to seem a poor deal. How many minutes of ads can you put on before the movie starts before your audience walks out? We’re getting closer with each redesign.

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