Michael Arrington of TechCrunch posted about new RSS-like features and a redesign of the Facebook interface. He praised the features and redesign but users didn’t share his enthusiasm. In fact, they had the opposite reaction, which he reports:
Many tens of thousands of Facebook users are not happy with the changes. Frank Gruber notes that a Facebook group has been formed called “Students Against Facebook News Feed”. A commenter in our previous post said the group was closing in on 100,000 members as of 9:33 PM PST, less than a day after the new features were launched. There are rumors of hundreds of other Facebook groups calling for a removal of the new features.
A site calling to boycott Facebook on September 12 has also been put up, as well as a petition to have the features removed. Other sites are popping up as well. There seems to be no counterbalancing group or groups in favor of the changes.
The reaction appears to have been swift and overwhelming. I suppose this reflects how tricky life has become in the world of “Web 2.0″ where users have such an investment in a site that they’ve helped create. At least Facebook clearly understands what its users want – or don’t want, as the case may be.
You can see the announcement of the redesign and the subsequent defensiveness and backpedaling on the Facebook blog.
Facebook’s “Friendster” moment: Will this event so alienate users that they abandon the site for another network? It’s unlikely because Facebook occupies a somewhat unique position in the market around a life stage (high school, college). But it’s remotely possible if shrewd operators of other social networks seize upon this moment to capture usage and provide or build some of the same functionality.
Here’s an interesting article from the Indiana University college paper. It shows both the degree of involvement of the students with Facebook generally and the intensity of the negative reaction to the changes.