Facebook changing the size of the font in the news feed is half the story. I find it more fascinating that Facebook status updates now start on their own line, and not next to a person’s name (at least on the general feed; the Wall continues to use the old design). It’s the end of an era for syntactical conformity at Facebook.
A quick look at techmeme shows a wide variety of opinions on the new Facebook Feeds feature, from the irate to the supportive. There are even those who go as far to call it an invasion of privacy. Ironically, I’ve seen a lot of notes in my News Feed (lol) from people who are freaking out because they “have to watch what they do now.”
In the words of Bill Nye, consider the following:
- You have always had to watch what you do now on Facebook, MySpace, or any other social networking site. This rule is the same regardless of the feed feature. If you don’t want to broadcast an action to the world, just delete it from your mini-feed. Simple. (That being said, there should be a way to opt completely out of the mini-feed system, and I get a gut feeling that’s going to happen.)
- It’s not an invasion of privacy if the information is already public knowledge to your networks. A privacy invasion would be Facebook broadcasting transactions that the privacy settings specifically mask, and that’s not happening.
I think it’s very interesting how the aggregation of the movements of Facebook users have sparked so many complaints. It seems like there’s been more outrage to the Facebook issue than there has been to government-sponsored data mining of the telecom records of American citizens, a fact that I find extremely interesting. At least you can control who sees your movements on Facebook. As stated above, I fully expect Facebook to make Mini-Feed broadcasting an optional feature, and that’s fair. I, for one, will elect to continue using it — I generally like people to know what’s going on with me, particularly if they’re my friends, so it’s not that big of a deal to me. The fact that I can remove items from the mini-feed is good enough for me if in fact I did do something shady that I don’t want my friends to know about. That, and I really like seeing the status changes, posts to my wall, and the new photos that my friends have posted in my News Feed. I’ve known a lot of people over the years; I can’t conceivably have deep conversations with all of them every day. I honestly think this is a dynamite feature that no one else will be able to even remotely pull off. My only criticism of this feature is that it has cluttered my profile tremendously; perhaps permitting some customization of the location of items on profiles and the number of mini-feed items is in order.
One thing that will result from the implementation of this feature is that people will inevitably tone down the explicit details of their extracurricular activities (cough) on their profile, as the feeling that they’re being watched has seemed to finally set in (despite the fact that risk is inherent in using any public Web service).