I Can’t Believe Facebook Would Do This

What is the first thing you do when you check out Facebook each morning?

If you are like most people, you go right to your News Feed before wiping the sleep out of our eyes.

The Facebook News Feed is a vital part of our lives. How else would we see that Jimmy got engaged or that Molly’s birthday is today? It is how we are fed our news before we are fed our cereal.

You can’t imagine starting your day without it.

But that wasn’t always the case.

When Facebook released the News Feed feature on September 5, 2006, Mark Zuckerberg thought it would change people’s lives.

It did, but unforunatley, people do not always like change. In fact, people hated News Feed. A student at Northwestern University started a Facebook group “Students Against Facebook News Feed” and the membership reached 700,000 people in less than a week.

The main objection to News Feed was that it released too much of your personal information to the world. People felt the feed bordered on stalking and started referring to Facebook as “Stalkerbook.”

To calm his audience, Zuckerberg wrote a blog post addressing people’s concerns. He agreed that stalking wasn’t cool but also mentioned that, “none of your information is visible to anyone who couldn’t see it before the changes.”

The information was always able to be accessed. And now it was being accessed. A lot.

In August 2006, Facebook users viewed 12 billion pages. In October, following the launch of the New Feed, views were up to 22 billion. So, no matter what people were saying publicly about the change, Zuckerberg knew that they actually liked it. He had data to back it up.

News Feed did undergo some slight changes. Facebook decided to add additional protection – the ability to restrict which information could be made public – to make the feed feel less like an intruder.

To address concerns, Zuckerberg participated in a live question-and-answer session to discuss News Feed. During which he explained that he had not expected the uproar because he expected that users would realize that the information on News Feed had always been visible on Facebook, it was just better organized and presented.

Because the introduction of News Feed was a drastic change, it was immediately viewed as the worst thing ever.

And that was what caused all the chaos, change. Not a new feature or a stalker-ish element of the site. It all boiled down to change.

People resist change, even on Facebook.

As David Kirkpatrick puts it in his book, The Facebook Effect, Zuckerberg realized, “that users take time to get used to changes, no matter how inevitable or necessary they might seem to him.”

It may have taken time, but now News Feed is a lasting part of our daily lives. Imagine if we would have never given it a chance.



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