It’s that time of year when students all across campus are distressed: Facebook has changed its layout again. But this time, Facebook is completely, 100 percent biting off of Twitter. The new, “improved” homepage that is now just status updates looks almost identical to the Twitter homepage, and instead of Twitter’s “What are you doing?” Facebook asks us a deeper, more profound question: “What’s on your mind?” On both the homepage and walls it is virtually impossible to distinguish your own status updates from friends’ postings – every action looks the same. If I wanted to be a part of social networking site that is for status updates only, I would sign up for a Twitter, thank you.
Funny story… the other night I did end up signing up for a Twitter account, but only out of curiosity. I don’t need another Web site to reinforce how I’ve caught myself thinking about me in the third person, things like, “Cynthia is happy she’s done with her paper and is ready to rage!” or “Cynthia wishes dumb freshmen would learn how to ride their bikes.”
As far as I can tell, Twitter is just a lame hybrid of Facebook with a blog that only allows 140 characters per post. Not only does it seem pretty useless, but it elicits much creepier feelings than the Facebook News Feed ever did; instead of friends, you have “followers” and when you do the equivalent of adding someone as a friend, you start “following” them. You don’t even have to approve any of your Web stalkers! So far I’ve only got three friends on Twitter (followers? followees?) and they’re all people from high school that I’d rather Facebook than tweet any day.
Now, I know that we all moaned and groaned when Facebook changed its layout to include the News Feed because it was too stalkerish, but we ended up secretly loving it several months later. Let’s face it: Staying updated on your friends’ whereabouts, vacations, relationships and conversations with other friends was never easier. What is Facebook’s explanation for their change to the Home Page? “Facebook launched the new site design to simplify the user experience and to make it easier for you to share and interact.” Bullshit. I’d like for them to show me a single person who thought the previous format was complicated for sharing and interacting. Instead, and I quote my roommate, this “newest change is going against our longstanding trend of progress and innovation.” Clearly, Facebook is simply feeling intimidated by the increasing popularity of Twitter, and for this I have a simple solution – the consolidation of the two networking sites as Twitbook, resulting in world domination.
Sometimes it simply takes us awhile to get used to change. After all, we all complained again when Facebook changed our profile pages to have Wall, Info, Photos and Boxes tabs but later realized that it was more organized this way. We started saving valuable time that would otherwise be wasted scrolling down our friends’ 30 favorite quotes and 20 obscure applications (like Which California Beach Are You? or Adopt a Fungus) in trying to post on their wall.
But really, don’t some of you miss the old-school Facebook? Who remembers when Facebook first became popular, when it was restricted to college students and “walls” were literally blank, wall-like spaces where people could edit what others wrote? Yeah, the wall situation was a mess, but it quickly got improved, and at least we weren’t getting friend requests from Steve Pappas or our best friends’ mothers.
Instead of being an efficient way to share what’s going on in our lives and quickly contact people in our community, Facebook is becoming a disappointing sellout to the formats of other trendy Web sites, as well as a way for potential employers to prematurely judge us based on a few incriminating photos (reminder to all: Change those privacy settings!)… as if they never performed a keg-stand during their college years.
Mark Zuckerberg, if for whatever reason you’re reading this, let’s go back to the good old days. Bring us back our News Feed, kick those grandmothers and slutty 13-year-olds off our networks and stop trying to be something you’re not (thank God): Twitter.
you can complain by deactivating your account
Facebook made these changes in the second week of March (http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=59195087130) – kind of old news.
I don’t really like those changes either, but there’s nothing creepy about Twitter. It’s fun, as long as you already know people who are using it. If you want to appprove your followers, you can easily "protect" your account.
(Facebook even tried to buy Twitter, but it didn’t work out – see http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/mar2009/tc2009031_743025.htm ).