Tuesday, September 05, 2006

On Facebook

So Facebook finally did something. Most of you have already noticed and probably formed some sort of opinion. The tech blogs are ablaze about it, of course, with the majority of the feedback being positive. TechCrunch, SiliconBeat (which has actually been renamed VentureBeat as of late) and GigaOm are all fans, to varying degrees (in that order).

To summarize, there are two new features added. The first is an RSS feed-type aggregation of what your friends have been up to (writing wall posts, friending, joining/creating events, etc.) and the second is a mini-feed that appears on your own personal page about what you have changed on Facebook.

My thoughts on it all are mixed. I think they've taken a fairly unique approach to social networking, and the new layout offers a plethora of information at users' fingertips. It's nice to keep up with friends, especially those you don't see much. From a business standpoint, the features will probably result in increased page views, as users now have more to look at. Quite simply, Facebook has become a more interactive social experience, so people will probably spend more time on it, especially the moderate to heavy users who currently spend much time "facebook stalking." (However, an alternative theory could be that since the info is all there, people won't spend more time looking for it and thus page views will decline. Thoughts?)

On the flip side of all this is a very real worry about privacy. The (few) people I've already talked to have echoed these concerns. For example, I may not want everyone to know when I've signed a wall or friended someone. Facebook was already a privacy nightmare, and the new design has only exacerbated the situation. The facade of protection that came from requiring college email addresses has long since evaporated, as employers and many others are already on the site. In regards to the new features, "it's too much" seems a be a popular response.

Another interesting note is the launch of the redesign coincides very closely with YouTube's announcement of a college section on its site. Though the move received mixed reviews, it is clearly the first real competition Facebook has faced. Oddly enough, the current Facebook design doesn't include video sharing, which is the logical response to YouTube's move. Time will tell what, if anything, Facebook does to directly address YouTube's threat.

But I want to conclude with an interesting angle that (I believe) hasn't really been considered yet. My first take on the redesign was that, with a little more work, it could be a fantastic events portal. The events scene has been getting a lot of attention generally (Upcoming getting bought out, Zvents, Eventful, etc.) and personally with my boys Rahmin and Matt launching Involver recently (which will garner a full post once I get the time to poke around the site thoroughly). But if people start using the events functionality on facebook, the new interface would be great for keeping track of whats going on and who is going where - the long sought after, first true social events network.

But then again it's doubtful people will really start using the events, and it's more doubtful Facebook will gear their site around events.

As always, and especially with this topic, your thoughts are highly encouraged...


  1. Here is a live counter of the number of people who have joined the "Students against Facebook News Feed" group on Facebook..... 300,000 and climbing


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