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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Newsfeed

Over the past couple of days Facebook has changed. For my wife, it happened months ago. When it first happened she hated it. It was all over the place, Posts didn't make sense. Everything was jumbled. However, as other features were added to Facebook, especially the added emphasis on lists, were added on then everything clicked. All of their recent updates have blended together to create a symphony that allows users to better follow their friends.

Now, before you grab your pitchfork and storm the castle lets look at the new layout and how these features blend together. First, let's look at the new newsfeed.

At the top you'll notice that the "Most Recent" button is no more. That honestly made me a little bit sad. I loved looking at my most recent button. For many of you you'll see "Top Stories" listed at the very top. You also might saw "Why is there so many random stories listed as top stories". The long complicated answer that Facebook gave us was " When you pick up a newspaper after not reading it for a week, the front page quickly clues you into the most interesting stories... Now, News Feed will act more like your own personal newspaper. You won't have to worry about missing important stuff. All your news will be in a single stream with the most interesting stories featured at the top" (blog.facebook.com).  You're own personal newspaper? Really? What's a newspaper? Okay, let's translate that into something that we can understand. Through an algorithm based on the number of likes, comments, and type of post it is.  It may also have something to do with the number of mutual friends you have with the author of the post and your interaction with that author.

If you do not like what kind of content is being marked as a "top story” then they have made it easy to change. Simply, you must click on the blue corner in the upper left of the post. If you want a post to be marked as a top story then you click on the top left corner and it will label it for you. The more that you do this the better the algorithms will be. Therefore the most important information will be the first information that you get.

Now onto their answer for the most recent button: the Ticker. The ticker provides real time updates about your friends' activity. You can then scroll through those posts and if you see something that interests you then you simply hover over it to see the post, see the comments to that post, and a place to comment on that post. It places all of the information associated with that post.

So, have you ever just wanted to know what was happening with friends in your area or perhaps your family? Facebook has now brought a feature into prominence that makes this easier: lists. They sorted your friends that have already established a relationship with you, either through work or family or education or geographic location. Now, these lists can be changed, deleted, added, and customized in every way. Yes, this is a supposed rip off of Google+. However, I will stand by the idea that lists have been a part of Facebook for a couple of years, they're just bringing them to the forefront of their service (in response to Google+).

Have a family reunion that you need to advertise but don't want all of your friends to be bothered by your constant announcements? Click on your "Family" list and update your status to that list. This can also be done from your main newsfeed.

Now, onto one more feature of lists that I think is way cool: the "Subscribe" button. 

Ever wanted to find out what was going on with a celebrity without all of the crap that fans post on the fan page? Now you can click on the subscribe button on their personal page. Then, when they post something publicly that post appears in your newsfeed. This is awesome for so many reasons. The boundaries between celebrity and fan are breaking down. They're becoming more accessible.  In the future I see CEOs of major companies and political leaders breaking down their boundaries through Facebook. This feature has been around on Twitter and Google+ for a while granted, but it's one of the most powerful aspects of social media: the ability to connect with people who previously were unreachable.

Now, Facebook is going to change again. Soon. Tomorrow. However, I feel safe in saying that the new features will only add to what has already been done. If you are interested in some concrete hypothesizes about the future changes I recommend this post: http://www.staynalive.com/2011/09/youve-heard-rumors-here-are-few.html

What do you think of the new Facebook?