Monday, December 6, 2010

Facebook's changing your page again

Facebook's made changes to people's pages again, so that of course means some users are feeling unsettled and grumpy this morning. This time, it's the profile page they're tinkering with. (Actually, they're being smart about it for once and giving users a chance to opt into it themselves first. Click here to try the new layout now). It's designed to be more visual, with pictures of you and your friends more prominently placed. It plays up photos of friends you connect with the most. And it's designed to make your "Interests" section more visual and prominent, and more socially connected.

Jason Keath, founder of the Charlotte-born Social Fresh marketing conferences, blogged last night about how he discovered that it also lets friends edit your interests. He plays tennis, and a friend he plays with added "tennis" to the "Sports I Play" section on Jason's profile. Depending on how you've got your privacy settings arranged, it might be possible for your friends to add stuff to your profile, too.

Closest I've come to that so far is when I got a message last night saying a co-worker had updated his profile to show that he worked at the Observer with me and a bunch of other folks. I'd already had the Observer listed in my own profile as my employer. Now he shows up in there as someone I work with. My hunch is that, even if I hadn't already put the Observer as my employer, his update would have added the Observer to my profile.

It's another move by Facebook to become a more accurate online mirror of your social connections, values and interests. That naturally makes Facebook more appealing to advertisers. So, as much as Mark Zuckerberg talks about giving people more of what they want -- socialization -- it's hard not to be a little cynical and see this freshening-up of the profile page as an enticement to get more data on people's interests and values added to profiles, either by users themselves, or by their friends.

That said, I don't really know that I mind it all that much. I do like knowing what my friends (and general acquaintances) value. We all do. But as Jason rightfully notes, this does bring with it the possibility for abuse. Teenagers who tend to friend everybody at their schools look like the most likely victims. But I suspect this change will accomplish what Facebook wants. As queasy as we all get over the possible privacy implications, our social urge seems to have gotten the better of us for now. That's why Zuckerberg's sitting on a gold mine at 26.

Friend me on Facebook, and let me know what you think.


lora said...
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