Facebook, one of the leading online social networks, has groups for literally everyone: music, movie, and media fans; social activists; Left-handed people; dormitory and fraternity house residence; and so on. Yet the groups the creators of Facebook may never have seen coming have begun to surface in recent days . . . the anti-Facebook groups.
On Tuesday morning, September 5th, 2005, Facebook revealed its latest update which they entitled “News Feed.” This latest features allows Facebook users to track the actions and activities of those within their networks, as well as to display their own changes to their profiles, group memberships, activities, et cetera. News Feeds range from the utterly humdrum and unexciting (“Billy A. has updated his profile picture”) to the downright terrifyingly informative (“Jane B. is attending the event [Input Name Here]”). In the Facebook blog, Ruchi Sanghvi-the product manager for the News Feed and more personalized “Mini-Feed”-stated the hope for these features was that it would “help you stay more up to date on your friends’ lives.”
“News Feed and Mini-Feed are a different way of looking at the news about your friends,” Sanghvi stated on Tuesday, “but they do not give out any information that wasn’t already visible. Your privacy settings remain the same – the people who couldn’t see your info before still can’t see it now.”
Despite Facebook’s reassurances regarding changes and user privacy, groups began surfacing almost immediately in what may have been an unforeseen backlash to the “facelift.” Groups with names such as “Facebook-The Place for Stalkers!”, “Facebook Knows Too Much”, and “Students against Facebook News Feed (Official Petition to Facebook”) have sent a crystal clear message to the producers of Facebook and the latest updates: “We’re not happy.”
Early Wednesday morning, Mark Zuckerberg, one of the pioneers of Facebook, responded with another blog post aimed at calming the outrage. “We’re not oblivious of the Facebook groups popping up about this,” Zuckerberg stated in his post. “And we agree, stalking isn’t cool; but being able to know what’s going on in your friends’ lives is. This is information people used to dig for on a daily basis, nicely reorganized and summarized so people can learn about the people they care about.”
It seems there are those who see things more like the Facebook producers and less like the angry users; groups with names such as “Facebook’s Facelift Kicks [Expletive]” and “I actually like the new facebook” respond with praises rather than protests to the changes. According to the administrator for one of these groups, “It was bound to happen sometime.” In another pro-“facelift” group, an administrator asks users, “If you think it’s too creepy and stalkerish, then why are you on here to begin with?”
Whether Facebook is changing for the better or the worst, one fact remains: this high school and college-aged generation has found a home in Facebook . . . Whether they now consider it a paradise or a private-less prison has yet to be determined.