As it does from time to time, these days we have been introduced with new Facebook. Although it seems simple, intuitive and more efficient than the old one, the reactions to the new interface are contradictory. The reason is relatively obvious – there is no mention of originality or innovation here. Facebook took elements of both Google+ and Twitter and incorporated them in what you now see as a Homepage. In a sense, the new Facebook is a Frankenstein creation.
A new Facebook changes
The least number of changes was made to the page „frame“, which if the most recognizable part of new Facebooks’ identity. The left side bar is still ”A Facebook original” (being unchanged for a couple of weeks, at least). The links in that box are divided into five sections: Favorites, Lists, Apps, Groups and a small mosaic on the bottom. The mosaic is made from the profile pictures of your friends informing you which of them are online. It refreshes every couple of minutes to inform you of any changes in the status of your friends’ virtual presence. There is also a textbox above that mosaic which enables you to do a search to see if a certain friend is on Facebook Chat.
New Facebook header
However, the header endured a few modifications on its right hand side. Now it has only three buttons. The one with your name on it is a link to your profile and the one with the inscription Home on it takes you to your new Facebook Homepage. Nothing new there. The third button looks like a little upside down triangle and pressing it activates a drop down menu which is now simplified in comparison to the last version. Using it you can access the Help Centre, Account Settings, Privacy Settings or log out of Facebook.
Central part and right sidebar changes
The real and very big changes happened in the central part of the screen and in the right side bar. The News feed got a complete overhaul. The news are now called stories and you can assign priority to them by marking some stories as Top stories. You can mark stories by clicking on the blue triangle in the upper left corner (which appears when your mouse cursor hovers over a story) or in the drop down menu in the upper right corner. Facebook news feed now shows top stories first and then sorts other stories chronologically.
Subscribe to content
In this most recent update, new Facebook look also gave us the ability to subscribe to content. You can choose whether you want to receive updates from a person, page or group and how many of them. You can also unsubscribe from all updates from this person altogether. While this is not a new and revolutionary feature or original in any way, it is still a useful addition and it will bring joy to many users that feel their Homepage is being overwhelmed by junk notifications.
What delighted me the most about this update was that Facebook finally removed the “Update status” textbox. Its placement (just below the search box) was a considerable design flaw and a source of discontent for many users. If you want to update your status now, you first have to press the “Update status” button. Also, you now have the option to choose who will be able to see that particular status. You can choose whether you want it to be available to the general public, all of your friends, friends from specific lists or you can customize it by selecting the people you want to see your update or the ones you want to hide it from. It is a very useful feature that will save you a lot of trouble (and perhaps embarrassment).
New Facebook news feed
And now it is to mention the unsettling part. If you take a look at the right sidebar, you will notice a new box. This is the actual news feed. It shows every new Facebook activity of your friends in real time. You can see what your friends do the instant they do it and they can see your activities as well. If you like the sound of that – good for you. So far it is not easily editable and no clear and easy option exists that enables you to remove yourself from that system of announcements. You can tinker around the Privacy settings and limit your visibility from there, but the magnitude of the effect is a bit unclear to me.
The event notification system has been minimized and is easy to overlook. It is below the announcement box and shows current events, including birthdays. If there are more than two current events, it groups them and you have to click on the notification to view them separately. This is definitely more ergonomic, but as I said before – it is easy to overlook altogether.
In conclusion, this most recent update has brought some big changes to the whole Facebook experience. Under pressure from the competition (in the form of Google Plus, Twitter and other social networking sites), the guys from Facebook have taken interconnectivity up another notch, along with improving user friendliness a bit. And still, I am feeling a bit uncomfortable. Although speaking of privacy loss and intrusion is kind of redundant when we talk about social networking sites, I cannot get rid of the feeling this newest form of Facebook is taking it to a whole new level. As it seems now, further changes will continue to go in that direction. Whether that is a good thing, it is up to the users to decide.