What’s Wrong With Facebook’s New Profiles

31 Comments

Facebook has released a new Facebook Profile. As usual, the changes seem pretty arbitrary, but Facebook appears to have moved in the direction of having a profile page that blends your professional life and your personal life, and I feel pretty strongly that this is a mistake.

Facebook offers this explanation of some core changes:

Your profile begins with a quick summary of who you are, giving friends an easy way to see where you live now, where you’re working and more. A collection of recently tagged photos also shows what you’ve been up to lately.

Give a more complete picture of how you spend your time, including your projects at work, the classes you take and other activities you enjoy (like hiking or reading). You can even include the friends who share your experiences.

What’s wrong with this picture?

I believe that many of us are still struggling to find the right balance between our Facebook profiles being highly personal and only for our trusted friends, versus being more professional and safe for our work colleagues to see. I’m also assuming that many of us, like me, are not tinkering under the hood with a fine-toothed comb to make sure our privacy settings are tweaked to perfection.

Given these factors, here are some problems with the new Facebook Profile:

  1. Tagged photos take center stage. While you can modify your privacy settings to control the tagging of photos and even untag yourself from other people’s photos, you are now having to “police” the images that show up front and center on your profile page, and they aren’t images that you’ve posted yourself. Before, they were hidden behind a tab and people had to seek them out if they were truly interested in your images, which was fine with me, because the photos that other people post of me and tag aren’t usually the ones I want to showcase.
  2. Work info gets pushed to the top. My Facebook profile is my personal account. The fact that I’m founder and owner of Mediaegg isn’t something I want to have at the top of my personal profile. I have a LinkedIn account that serves to showcase my professional work. If I wanted to present my work affiliation on my Facebook page, I’d also want to include that I’m also co-founder and owner of Conversify, but that isn’t an option.
  3. Educational info gets pushed to the top. I don’t want to showcase my educational details on Facebook. Again, that purpose is served via LinkedIn. I don’t mind that Facebook links me with former classmates via my high school affiliation, but I went to three colleges, none of which are important connections for me. I can’t remove the education data from the top summary of my profile page without deleting it entirely. There isn’t a “show my education in my profile” checkbox option like there is for gender.
  4. “Send message” button is to the right. Maybe this is just a matter of how my brain works, but having the link to send a message to someone when you are on their page should not be on the right-hand side. That link has been on the left-hand side of the page under a person’s profile photo forever. Now when I go to send a message to someone, it catches me off guard.
  5. “Friends in common” is gone. Or is it? I’m not entirely certain the “friends in common” feature is entirely gone, but I can’t find it. Ironically, for a service that is about connections, this very helpful feature is not where it used to be.

So, what do I like about the new profiles? I actually don’t mind that Facebook Pages now look different from Profiles — for the time being, at least.

Change can be good, and eventually we’ll all get used to the new Facebook Profiles. But it’s disconcerting when our social networks make assumptions about what we want to reveal or showcase, especially when the changes make it even harder for us to draw distinctions between our personal and professional presences online.

What do you think of the new Facebook Profiles?

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31 Comments

Giulia

The focus is not on professional stuff but rather visuals, I dont see the point of seeing gigantic icon pictures of my friends interests, especially when most of them are blank blue avatars with a atom symbol on. Totally dispersive, no sense of networking, the web addresses are now buried at the bottom of the page. What’s the point of a social media when you can’t make your message stand out (either a status, your other web sites, or a brief bio)
My idea is that we are now filed but what we want to say is not really important now, neither the reason we use facebook for.

Kristina

hate the new facebook profile. i hate that i have to click on “status.” i hate that the “about me” box under profile pictures is gone. i hate that i can’t minimize all the comments and likes under my wall posts/pictures etc. everything about it makes my profile look so much more cluttered.

mike

Friends in common:

(a): If the person hasn’t chosen to “hide” their friend-list from non-friends, you can click on their friends and under the ‘search by name’ tab click on ‘mutual friends’.

(b): If the person has chosen to “hide” their friend-list, then type their name into the search box. If they allow non-friends to search for them, their name will show up there. Do not click on their name, but rather “show more results for xxxxx”. Then it will show their name and you can simply click on mutual friends.

(c): If the have their friends list hidden, and they are hidden from search results, then I’m not sure how to do it exactly. If they posted on someone’s wall or something you can hover over their name and it will show mutual friends..

The friends in common thing is not gone, but it’s no longer easy to access.. I don’t like it.

Abbie S. Fink

Agree with your assessment — really not happy about the fact that I can’t change it back. I just wanted to test it out. For some reason I can’t tag people in the status update. Tried a different browser, still no luck.

So no, don’t care for it at all.

skibby

Pardon me, but this seems a bit like whining over nothing. If you don’t want your professional and personal lives blended, delete that info from your profile. Yes, on the old profile that info was typically one click away — one click — that hardly qualifies as “hidden,” but if that’s what you want, just put all that info in Notes, which are still one click away, not “front and center.” And harsh as it may sound, people who haven’t been “policing” tagged photos of themselves kind of get what they deserve. Your personal security and personal image is your responsibility — you *should* be monitoring who tags you. In a way, FB is actually making it easier for you to do that by putting those photos front & center, so you’ll see them and untag yourself (or better yet, step up your privacy settings).

Charles McPhate

I’m one of those people who tinkers “under the hood with a fine-toothed comb.” I have my “friends” segregated into groups, and only the closest friends see everything by default. There’s an option to see your profile the way a specific user would see it, and I frequently use that to make sure I’m not giving the wrong people too much access to my profile.

I also go on a purging spree about once a year — I start removing connections to people I don’t interact with. Inevitably, some lurker gets their feelings hurt and sends me a message asking why I deleted them. I quietly block them…

Moo Kahn

Well here’s yet another example of a bunch of 20-something anti-social hacker-geeks making (incorrect) assumptions about how people want to use the product they’ve created. Their own social skills are so under-developed they probably never thought to question the work/social balance you speak of. I agree with everything in your article – the new profile is an epic FAIL.

You'veTrulyHitTheSocialNetworkingWall

@Aliza Sherman

Responses to your points
#1. In the words of John Battelle, “Facebook doesn’t ask for permission. It just asks for forgiveness.” (http://www.fastcompany.com/1703183/mark-zuckerberg-web-2-0) When someone tags you to a photo, that means you haven’t “forgiven” the site by going into your privacy features and disallowing people to tag you to certain pictures, or you haven’t put whomever you’re concerned about seeing unsavory pics of you on a restricted list that you’d again go into your privacy or picture album settings to prevent from seeing.
#2. There’s a thing on Facebook that allows you to put a web address on your profile. Try putting your LinkedIn profile address there. That’ll take care of not having to clutter your header with education, work, and any other information you may feel better broadcast on LinkedIn.
#3. See response to #2
#4. OMG are you going to suffer forever or can you adapt like an adult?
#5. Are you referring to “mutual friends” when you say “friends in common”? If yes, it’s on the right side of the profile of the friend’s page you’re viewing. If you’re referring to that section where you may find friends, then I don’t see it either, but then, Facebook never logically recommended anyone with whom I should connect.

In response to your closing paragraph:

“Change can be good, and eventually we’ll all get used to the new Facebook Profiles. But it’s disconcerting when our social networks make assumptions about what we want to reveal or showcase, especially when the changes make it even harder for us to draw distinctions between our personal and professional presences online.”

If you’re concerned about work contacts viewing private things about your life, keep private things about your life off a public domain like the INTERNET! You bloggers really have lost sight of the fact that there is no reasonable expectation/assumption of entitlement that your personal information will remain personal when you put it in the hands of a service that from the point of registration does not offer you the full tools to “privatize” your information within your desired social scope. At the least, don’t accept friend invites from people you don’t know, co-workers, prospective recruiters, etc. The divide between business and pleasure is USER DEFINED. If you desire a private life with no unexpected, uncomfortable “intrusions” by co-workers, then don’t assume that a social network hub like facebook fosters that desire. Facebook founder (beyotch) Mark Zuckerburg evangelizes that you make your profiles public to everyone (although you can turn that option off). That says a lot about what Facebook is and isn’t about. If anything, that says a lot about what the internet is and isn’t about. It’s definitely not about building relationships privately. That’s what real life face-to-face interaction provides for you. What you are complaining about could be solved by a lot of you dropping the keyboard to stop complaining about not being able to have only certain friends knowing certain details or seeing certain pictures of you and actually meeting with your friends, which would preserve some sort of real, intimate, PRIVATE connection between you and them. Get off the damn site if it’s this bad people have to blog about it everyday. Lower your expectations and wake up. Facebook seems to be a hybrid personal:professional deal, but heavily inclined to socializing. If you’re heavy into wanting a true divide, keep your professional crap (job history, memberships, co-workers, etc.) on a professional site like LinkedIn and your personal crap (family, quasi-orgy photos, etc.) on facebook. If all else fails, follow the minimum necessary rule for participation. Login once a week. Post a status, reply to peeps, but overall, get off the computer and get a real life. Virtual life will only pixelate your mind lol

jackowick

Every update/revision/enhancement I find myself going into my settings and finding something new that I have to checkoff to hide some of my information. I’ve been culling all my activity older than 2 months off of my profile and I think I may just freeze up the wall all together and not allow any posts or tags. Which is making me think it’s time to abandon facebook… not for another service, but the social media profile concept in general. If someone wants to get in touch with me, they either know how or they can find me.

Ankur Moulik

Well,First of all i would say the article is really figuring out things correctly and also i didn’t like the new profiles on Facebook.So i didn’t even switched the latest one i kept my old profile as it is.

jadrnice

Definetly not liking the changes! Why do they need to implement all those neceseary changes every 5 months? There isn’t nothing new just move everything around.

Hemanth Kumar

Aliza,

I think you didn’t noticed that Mutual friends ” Friends in Common” is not gone, its at right side below send message.

Zaki

All new things need time to get used to. So there will be the part of those who support the new profile and the conservative ones, who discard it. But still it is to be done

Matthew

In reverse order, on your points:
#5: As someone pointed out, “Friends in common” is still there – in fact, now it’s featured over on the right. Might be a nice improvement, actually.

#4: We’ll definitely get used to the email link’s new position.

#’s 1-3: I agree with you about all of these issues, regarding having all of this information featured at the top of our profiles. But ALL of these can be better managed if they simply give us more control over how, and which, items are displayed. A checkbox to allow photos tagged by others to show at the top or not, for instance, would make a huge difference there. Checkboxes next to each of our bits of employment and education information, also would make a huge difference on the usefulness of the placement of that info. I’m hopeful that they will tweak this new design to allow us more control over all of those things. I think I can get used to having the basic info up top, but IT MUST become more customizable, or that info will get deleted by many MANY people, which – needless to say – would make that whole section relatively useless.

I have a different problem with the new design! I believe this issue could also be addressed with a simple tweak, though I fear this one may be off the table (for a reason I can’t yet figure). The STATUS section is ENTIRELY REMOVED. Why? Just to make room for the now-featured non-dynamic “basic info?” That seems strange to me.
To be clear: I’m aware that you CAN UPDATE your status… but now that status can quickly get buried in the morass of whatever else shows up on your wall shortly after. As soon as anything else gets posted on there, the status just looks like any old other post. The nice thing about status updates is that they could stay pegged to the top for immediate viewing!

I don’t know about everybody else, but I like to use my fb status to communicate important & current thoughts, which often generate good long discussions among my friends over a period of a few days or more. In the meantime, I like to post lots of other things on my wall, many of which generate their own threads of discussion. But I LIKE having that status up top for my friends to see right away.

MY PROPOSAL: Bring the status area back to the top of the profile *along with* the basic info. Give them a tabbed view that allows friends to see either status or basic profile info. And better yet: allow us to decide which view – “status” or “basic info” – that friends will see upon arrival on our pages.

I can get used to having that basic info up there, but I really don’t want to get used to not being able to use status updates the way I’ve grown to appreciate them.

Matthew

Aliza Sherman

I hate that the status update area is now a click away from easy access. Agree it should just be there open & ready for us to post. Makes Twitter look so much more inviting now (although truth be told, I like Twitter more than Facebook any day).

Matthew

I don’t have a problem with needing to click on “status” to update the status. To me, that actually helps address a problem. When some people posted links (in the old design), they’d paste the url in their status box – which automatically loaded the link (a good thing), but that did still leave the url in the post, which was redundant and ugly. This part of the new design will make everybody’s posts cleaner, because now if somebody wants to post a link, they’ll click on “link,” and when they want to post a status update, they’ll click “status.” So I’m actually glad about that change.

The problem I have is that they have REMOVED the area that displays your *current*, already-posted status. It’s not even available, not even a click or two away. Just GONE. I want that current status area back! I want to be able to see what MY current status is (I honestly forget sometimes!), and I want to be able to see what friends’ current status is too, without having to dig around & *guess* which post is their status, etc.

Clay Ward

Overall it looks pretty good from a usability standpoint. I’m betting that they’ll allow you to play with that photo strip on top eventually.

And hey… as far as blending professional and personal… the cat’s out of the bag; Facebook is a mishmash and as the frontrunner in social networking they’ve got every right to stay that way.

Paul Carney

I agree with you. I believe that we should have the option to not show the “photo strip” at the top and allow me to pick what I want to show up for information at the top.

As a result of this change, I have removed my work and education from my profile and encourage you to do the same thing. It’s a shame, but it is the only way to remove it from showing up there.

I have reduced my usage of FB now because of this and I can imagine a point at which I will remove everything from there because I will not have more control over how I am presented. People like @Daniel may be okay with that, but not me. It’s like letting a company put together a profile of who you are for the world to see – from their perspective and in their interests, not yours. Why would you want to allow that?

@Daniel: You are completely off-base with your comment, “It’s a users profile page not your profile page.” Of course it is my profile page – I am the user! You cannot separate the two.

Daniel

Totally don’t agree. This release doesn’t seem arbitrary at all to me. This appears to be a very successful design overhall that:

(1) puts the individual at the center (not you): it makes it easier to understand who an individual is based on what they and there friends have already shared with Facebook. you can now grok someone in seconds and basic profile data isn’t buried like it used to be. this is huge because these pages aren’t high-traffic and they really used to suck at communicating quickly who someone was.

(2) gives FB an opportunity to collect more data about their users: encourages every user on the service to look at their profile and refine who they are, what’s important to them and who there closest friends are. that’s highly useful data for Facebook and their users to act upon.

(3) reinforces that FB is a powerful communication service: chatting up someone on the old profile pages was painful, you had to find a link buried under several others underneath someones profile picture, now the Call to Actions are **buttons** that are extremely visible. They are saying, come chat with me. Literally.

I think it’s quite successful and I am confident it will continue to be refined. In future versions I’d bet on them exploring ways to include features that are a bit more dynamic but that doesn’t feel like a v1 requirement for a page that was otherwise stagnant for years. Imagine how crazy these pages have gotten in the past year with all the ‘Like’ data flowing in and you can understand the importance of doing something to make it more legible.

IMHO that you don’t feel 100% comfortable means they have released something that shows they are taking the liberty to play around, how innovative could they ever be if they felt they had to always stay a certain way for fear of alienating people?

BTW Friends in common is still available but you have to click on the ‘Friends’ link and find the ‘mutual friends’ dropdown option. Again, these pages are about the individual NOT you. It’s a users profile page not your profile page. :)

aep528

“it makes it easier to understand who an individual is based on what they and there friends have already shared with Facebook”

And that is exactly what’s wrong, particularly with the photos – photos tagged of me ARE NOT NECESSARILY WHO I AM! I can post a picture of any random person, tag it as you, and it shows up on your profile page until you discover and remove it. Are you really okay with that?

head-damage

you get an update on every tagged photo of your self so its not like you have to dig in the back of your closet to find old photos. it tells you, and if people really don’t want photos they didn’t pick out then they should be looking at the updates, and untagging them self. its really not that hard.
Plus i get that some people don’t want all there info up for everyone to see. my question is then why even have it on facebook? its a network sharing site, thats what its there for. if you don’t want people seeing stuff take it off, you chose what goes on your facebook, so how they display it shouldn’t matter.

Aliza Sherman

I think you nailed it when you said:

“gives FB an opportunity to collect more data about their users.”

These changes will seem acceptable to some people who use their FB pages in a certain way but bothersome to the rest of us who care about things like which photos we showcase & what professional info we share more prominently.

Carly

I am not too keen on the new profiles either, especially the fact that we have to now police tagged photos as you say. I’d like the photos I chose to stay at the top of my profile.

Another recent thing that’s annoying me is “photo memories” I’d love to opt out (even just certain albums) as it makes me cringe every time I’m messaging somebody and I know they can see an old old old picture (probably embarrassing) of me. I haven’t the time nor the inclination to go and manually untag any that I don’t really want others to see… it’s not that they’re bad, it’s just like ‘dragging up the past.’ Pictures with exes and where I’m sporting bad hairstyles and goofy clothes!

Lastly, the mutual friends/friends in common feature IS still there, it’s on the right now. Visit a friend’s page and you can see lots of tiny little profile pics of people you have in common.

Carly

Aliza Sherman

You are so right about those photo memories. Not compelling in the least.

And thanks for the tip on the common friends on right side – how counter-intuitive.

Also noticed that the Message button on right is now completely covered up if I open the Chat window to see which friends of mine are online. I’m on a laptop so probably the reason but still irksome.

Aliza Sherman

Oh, another annoying thing – at least to me: The status update box is now hidden. You have to click on Status to open it up. An extra click to post? Grrrrr.

Carly

Yes, I have to agree! That is VERY annoying! Makes me wonder why they did it? To discourage status updates (drain on resources?) I’m not sure why, but I think Facebook has an ideology behind every decision!

J in B

Uhhhh….
Remember the old boxes? You had to click in those to post a status update or wall post too…So it’s 1 click either way….
I’m pretty sure that they didn’t do it to alleviate the drain on resources. For reading a technology blog, you aren’t very informed…
Did you even notice that “statuses” don’t exist anymore? No mas.

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