Faster Facebook frustrates fans

Scrolling real-time updates annoy many of the social network's users.

Feb 4, 2019, 7:12 am*

Internet Culture

Dave Copeland 

Dave Copeland

Facebook users found a new interface when they logged in Wednesday morning, including a scrolling feed of friends’ updates on the right-hand side of each page which updates in real time, larger profile photos in the Top Stories feed, and other changes the company had hinted at this week.

But initial user reaction, centered on the scrolling real-time feed, was overwhelmingly negative.

“The new FB may cause me to move to google+ very soon,” Jill Warnshuis posted as her status update Wednesday morning. “It is deleting the preview on half my picture uploads. Nice job Mark.” (That’s Mark as in Zuckerberg, Facebook’s cofounder and CEO.)

“Facebook operates with all the efficacy of Randy Quaid’s character in the National Lampoon ‘Vacation’ movies,” wrote Eric Heyl.

The changes were aimed to display both real-time updates—a prominent feature of rival social networks Twitter and Google+—and Top Stories as soon as a user logs in. Previously, users could choose Top Stories, determined by an algorithm, or most recent updates.

Today’s changes are aimed at giving users both at once. However, it’s not the first time Facebook has mixed in real-time updates in its feed.

In 2009, Facebook rolled out real-time updates in its News Feed and buried algorithmically selected updates in a sidebar, then reversed course. Users loudly objected to those changes, too—but the uproar hardly stopped Facebook’s growth.

Facebook has unveiled a flood of new features in the runup to a big event, f8, that it’s holding this week for developers in San Francisco. But today’s will be the most noticeable to everyday users. Many of the early complaints stemmed around the theme that the more Facebook tried to compete with Google+, the less it seemed like Facebook.

“My word they keep changing facebook… gonna get to be like Myspace in no time. Just signed up for the new google social network… same thing different name,” David Emrich posted.

And if we’re to take people at their status-updated word, the changes seemed to have the unintended consequence of pushing people to Facebook’s latest rival in the social networking space.

“I’m switching to Google! Facebook changes suck…..stop thinking you’re making it better Facebook….you’re NOT!!” Kim DeLeon Armao wrote in a status update.

Google+, previously in a closed beta test, opened to all users Tuesday, ahead of today’s Facebook changes, no longing requiring members to get an invite from an existing user before joining.

A spokesperson for Facebook could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

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*First Published: Sep 21, 2011, 12:52 pm