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When Facebook overhauled its user interface last year, dozens of “protest groups” cropped up from members that didn’t like it. The social network stuck to its guns on the changes, and Chris Cox, Facebook’s director of product, said people actually ended up using the site more.
Starting next Wednesday, March 11, another redesign will take effect — and while it’s aimed at giving members more control over the info they put into “the stream,” as well as the info they receive — there’s bound to be some feedback from Facebook’s increasingly vocal user base.
More after the jump.
— Better filters for the news feed: Cox said Facebook introduced the news feed to give members a better read on “what was going on” with their connections. But with over 175 million members, including entities like the NYT, the NBA, and personalities like President Obama and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, the influx of status updates, photo uploads and comments can create too much noise. The new design lets members filter their news feed quickly, and remove friends or public figures that clog the stream with updates; they can also slice the feed according to groups like family, co-workers and colleges. Cox also said the news feed will update faster, closer to “real-time” than the current pre-set intervals, and there’s a “highlights” column on the right side of the page that will show content like videos and photos from people members interact with most frequently.
— “Publish” content faster: Facebook calls the status update box “the publisher,” since users will be able to use it to upload photos, notes and other content directly. Previously, members had to click on the photos or notes tabs to make changes. Facebook also changed the default text from “what are you doing right now” to “what’s on your mind,” a subtle dig at Twitter, perhaps, which uses the former. It’s another sign of how important status and mood updates have become for driving user engagement with social networks, as MySpace redesigned its status and mood update features too, including the addition of groups and filters.