Automatically hating the new Facebook

06:48, Sep 23 2011

Okay, so in case you don't use it much, or have some kind of pirate language on, Facebook just went ahead and changed their layout, a whole lot. They introduced a new sidebar ticker, which is constantly updating with your friends' activity, made photos appear much larger on people's walls, pushed a new list feature, and a few other things. That is not what I am here to discuss. I'm here to discuss the reaction. As always when Facebook changes something, people are mad. I find it hilarious.

After reading a few people's statuses about how much they hated it, and even hearing people in my lab bitch about it, I checked a funny group that spawned around some other Facebook redesign, named "I AUTOMATICALLY HATE THE NEW FACEBOOK HOME PAGE." It sums itself up rather well:

"I HATE CHANGE AND EVERYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH IT
I WANT EVERYTHING TO REMAIN STATIC THROUGHOUT MY ENTIRE LIFE
I DO NOT KNOW WHAT I WANT FROM THINGS I CANNOT CONTROL
BY LOGICAL DEDUCTION I AUTOMATICALLY OPPOSE THE NEW FACEBOOK STREAMING HOME PAGE"

As always, a whole lot of people think the group is serious and comment about how "you don't fix what ain't broken!" Here's the thing though: if you loved the old Facebook so much, did you hate the iteration before it? Of course you didn't. Just like half of my friends, you hated the last change as well. People just hate change. Especially to a site they use every single day. It is jarring when you have to unlearn some habits and create new ones. It must be especially difficult for those who barely use Facebook, who get bombarded with balloons telling them about the new features every time they manage to log in.

Facebook changes all the time for a reason though. The Facebook people know that if they sit on what they have, other sites will get ahead of them, and they will die like MySpace and Bebo. They need to be nimble to stay ahead of the game, and they need to be a little arrogant. One of the first times users got angry at a change, Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg was rumoured to have said: "the most disruptive companies don't listen to their customers". It sounds arrogant. It is arrogant. But it works in this case. They need to have the nerve to change something people love. They know barely anyone will actually leave Facebook. They know in about a month people will barely remember it was different anyway. Facebook is never going to revert to its old design, just as they are never going to introduce a dislike button. Sure, they will tweak the redesign. They will tweak it quite a bit. But they won't backtrack. Facebook is all about marching on into the future of networking; having the guy who built the site as the CEO helps with that.

This happens just before their big f8 event, where they will announce a whole lot of new features (definitely music stuff); of course by the time this blog goes out, f8 will have happened, but I digress.

Facebook has lots of things down the pipeline, with lots of signs pointing to a completely HTML5 app for mobile devices (over an iPad app,) and people are going to hate every single change. Then learn to love it. It's the way it has always been. I know this is a tech blog, but why not get mad over something that actually matters? Like, as Twitter has, the Troy Davis execution? I'm not Facebook's hugest fan or anything, I just understand their strategy, and I kinda like the new sidefeed.

Email Henry or follow him on Twitter.

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