Blog Post

Some Users Find New Facebook Features “Creepy”

What happens when a social network gets too plugged in? Facebook is finding out after launching a News Feed that shows all the comings and goings of a user’s network and a Mini-Feed. I’ve been able to take a look over the virtual shoulder of a friend with Facebook and can understand why one user started a group called “the new facebook news feed is SUPER CREEPY!!!” — it already has nearly 150 members — and describes the feature as “stalker style.” As soon as someone joins the group, it’s broadcast on the news feed.
An online petition posted Tuesday already has nearly 30,000 signatures. The petition lays out the reasons for being part of Facebook but asks that the “news feed” and “mini feed” features either be removed or made opt-out. Another protest effort calls for “a day without Facebook” on Sept. 12, Ad boycotts are suggested as is writing letters to the campus paper.
Anyone working on social networks or counting on them for a business model should follow this closely. Here’s one telling excerpt from the “day without” explanation: “It is becoming blatantly apparent that the powers that run Facebook are no longer in it for the community or the users. While we have all appreciated Facebook, it is not a necessary part of our lives. And it is not the only way we can keep track of our friends. Think of the previous social networking sites that were hot for a time and eventually were replaced. Facebook is no different than Orkut or Friendster, it can be replaced.
— Here’s Facebook’s explanation of the new features when the feeds went live early Tuesday morning. Founder Mark Zuckerberg chimed in late Tuesday, urging people to “calm down” and “est out the products and continue to provide us feedback.” He suggests using current privacy options.
GigaOm’s Liz Gannes, a Facebook user, thinks the new features show Facebook gets it. The at-a-glance idea is indeed nifty but Zuckerburg’s response suggests Facebook gets the tech side more than the people side this time.