Facebook caves in to users after revolt over redesign

Social network announces changes to new Facebook design that had users in uproar

Caving to pressure from a horde of often irate users, Facebook Inc. today announced changes to the unpopular redesign of its home page earlier this month.

The popular social networking site has been hammered hard by users revolting against the new Facebook design. The updated home page added, among other things, a real-time news feed stream and a highlights section. The redesign also allows users to share their information with an unlimited number of friends -- making the social network a lot more like Twitter.

The revolt against the redesign came just a month after Facebook users expressed outrage over changes made to the company's terms of use. The redesign started rolling out shortly afterward, roiling users again.

Some user-created groups on Facebook make it clear just how unhappy and frustrated users are with the new design. According to Vote on the New Facebook Layout, more than 1.3 million people have voted, and only 80,400 support the new design. And so far, another user-generated group, Petition Against the "New Facebook", has more than 1.7 million members. Users have posted comments such as "This is just about the worst thing ever. Loathesome [sic]," and "The Facebook we have at the moment is messy and cluttered," as well as "This new look sucks big time."

Yesterday, Christopher Cox, Facebook's director of product, stepped up to the plate and responded to the user uproar in a blog post.

"Since we launched Facebook's home page design, we've received thousands of e-mails, Wall posts and comments from you along with direct feedback from all of our friends and family. If you've already given us feedback, thank you," wrote Cox. "Redesigns are generally hard to manage, in part because change is always hard and in part because we may miss improvements that any individual user may like to see. We keep in mind that there are 175 million people on Facebook, and everyone uses the site differently."

He added that Facebook is making several improvements.

One change focuses on live updating. Cox noted that the site will soon enable users to turn on autoupdating so they don't have to refresh the page to see their stream update. He also promised tools that let users control how much application content their friends can inject into streams.

"Currently, the content filters on the left screen allow you to select the types of content you would like to see," said Cox. "Over time, we'll continue to give you more control over what's in your main stream and how you consume it. We have the eventual goal of building filters that summarize this activity so you can see a more condensed view of what's been going on. We're also thinking about ways of filtering out some of the Wall posts and content directed to specific people to focus more on posts shared with everyone."

Facebook is also working on making it easier for users to find what they're interested in, according to Cox. In an attempt to do that, he said, the company plans going to make friend requests and event invites more prominent on the page, and it's going to try to make it easier to make a friends list filter.

Comments to Cox's blog include "I still want the old Facebook," and "Poll the users and actually listen to what they say about each specific item." One says, "I love the new design. Change is good and I think you've made a change for the better."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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