Post updated with images on September 11, 2011.
As we mentioned in our September e-newsletter, Facebook has made a slew of changes and announcements over the past several weeks and I don’t know about you, but I’m having a heck of a time keeping up with it all. (Trying to write this post has been a nightmare with additions that have been announced as I’ve been typing!)
Historically, big announcements about changes to Facebook are made, tons of hype ensues, and then by the time we actually see the changes, we can’t remember what the big deal was about. In the recent weeks, however, it seems like these announcements have been fast and furious, and the hype and changes a bit contradictory.
At the time of this post, here’s what I’ve got. Please, share your own versions of what you’ve seen or heard in the comments.
Facebook News Feed
Your friends’ posts to public groups (that you’re not a member of) show up in your news feed. So, if I’m understanding this correctly, Facebook thinks it’s improving the quality of my stream by letting my friends know when I talk to old high school acquaintances in our alumni group. Gotcha, Facebook. (Facebook as since given us the ability to hide these posts, and I’m grateful for that, but this option wasn’t there upon initial rollout.)
And, the Mini News Feed
Facebook has been making tweaks to the chat sidebar and, as of last week, started rolling out a version with a live feed “Ticker” showing activity (likes/comments) from Facebook friends as it happens (unlike the current news feed which is built on advanced algorythims to serve items based on likes, comments, and how often you’ve interacted with those friends). I haven’t seen this yet, but funny thing – I was talking with someone who did have the mini feed, loved it, and then said it disappeared on him after about a day. (Facebook is only debuting this feature to a small percentage of users, so if you have seen it, I think it’s like a big honor or something.)
Facebook Status Box
You’ve probably noticed changes to the status update box, which now includes two icons for tagging people you are with, and the place from which you are posting. With this change, Facebook plans to phase out the separate “Facebook Places Check-in” that has been part of their mobile application. (Note – trying to find where to “add a link” now? That icon is gone, but you can just paste the URL right into the status box.)
The new status update box also includes a slight change in how you select who can see your posts. The pulldown menu in the lower right corner of the box now includes “public,” “friends” and “custom.” Unless you’ve made changes in your privacy settings, all posts are defaulted to “public,” meaning that anyone on Facebook can see them. “Friends” includes all of your Facebook friends and “custom” allows you to select specific individuals or lists of your contacts. While this has existed for quite some time, the new changes are making it more prominent. You can also change a post’s visibility after you’ve posted it, which is a new feature.
These upgrades have also been extended to the iPhone app. Finally! However…one beef I have with this is that the mobile app still doesn’t allow you to make a post visible to more than one of your lists, then you can via the web interface.
With the increased emphasis on tagging, Facebook made some changes to the privacy options, allowing you more control over the posts in which you are tagged. (How nice of you, Facebook, to finally realize we might not want our “friends” to have the ability to broadcast our whereabouts without our consent.)
Visit your privacy settings to turn on the ability to review any posts you’re tagged in, select the visibility of posts you are tagged in, and turn on or off the ability for your friends to check you into places. This New York Times post explains it all in more detail.
Deal or no deal?
OK, this is the one that has me most confused and I’m really hoping someone can clarify for me, soon. Facebook announced that it will discontinue the daily deals that it has been beta testing in select cities over the past few months. But, they will continue to offer check-in deals. The irony and confusion I’m experiencing is that I’m still getting Facebook Deals offers (just purchased one the other day) and have yet to ever see a check-in deal. I suppose this is all a matter of rollout, rollback, and timing, but man…did I mention that I’m confused?
(Oh, and a side note…that deal I purchased? I went to grab my credit card, assuming I’d need it for the transaction, clicked the button for “Mastercard” and voila! Transaction complete. I was never asked to enter my card number. I’ve never entered my credit card native in Facebook before, so somehow, it pulled it from the social graph? So, yay Facebook for calming our privacy concerns with added tagging features. Never mind the fact that you’ve also managed to get our financial data from somewhere on the internet.)
Bullying the little guys…
Last but not least, in true Facebook fashion (yeah, okay, maybe it’s business, but still) they are making a play to intimidate the little guys. After it failed to acquire the popular iPhone photo sharing site, Instagram, Facebook is just going to copy all of their best features by introducing photo filters (note – we’re talking camera lens filters here, not privacy).
So tell me…what have you seen, not seen, been surprised at or annoyed by with regard to recent Facebook changes?