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The Real Scare of the Facebook Changes

Posted by susabelle at 8:03 AM on September 26, 2011

Facebook Logofacebook’s most recent changes are a big problem for many.  As a heavy user of facebook, I’m frustrated by their attempts to control what I see and how I see it, as much as the next guy.  I don’t particularly want facebook to decide what my “top stories” are, and the move of the “home” button to the upper right–hand corner of the content means I have to scroll to the right in order to get back to the top of the site when I’m using my laptop.  No amount of adjustments, installations of Firefox add-ins like Better facebook! have helped in this regard.  I would say that it’s just because I’m resistant to change, but the truth is, the changes have made it more difficult for me to navigate and to see what I go there to see.  In the five or so days since these big changes were made, I have found myself missing posts (due to the top post feature that I can’t seem to turn off), and spending three times as long to do what I used to do (moving around, reading posts, getting back to the top, adding photos, etc.).  Of all the changes so far in the years I’ve been using facebook, these are severe enough, and frustrating enough, for me to consider limiting my time on the site.

That being said, we haven’t seen anything yet.  The upcoming changes to how facebook is going to use our information (dubbed f8) are just about drawing a line in the sand for me.  These changes actually scare me, in the sense that facebook wants us to be “on facebook” no matter where we are.  We used to say that we should be afraid of Google.  Afraid of how we were putting all of our information in Google’s hands.  How Google was the gorilla in the room that we we shouldn’t ignore.

I feel far more threatened with facebook’s upcoming changes than I ever have with Google’s attempts to be everything to everyone.  facebook is moving in a frightening direction.  Soon, if you visit a web page, listen to some music, watch a video, buy a book, etc., that information will be posted to your facebook account without you having to have done a thing.  Imagine, all of your friends finding you’re a closet fan of disco music, or that you frequent sites about drag racing and cake decorating.  Maybe you don’t care that your friends know this, but then again, maybe you do!  The reason many of us share links or photos on our facebook accounts is because we want to share those specific items with our friends.  When everything you do starts being posted, how happy are you going to be with that?

Of course, this is all good for facebook.  They can begin to target advertising to you and to your friends based on your activities all over the Internet.  And honestly, is this something we want?

I have, of course, gotten a Google + account, and while it’s interesting, it’s not going to replace the things about facebook that I like.  I have a nice tight group of friends on facebook, and several years worth of conversations, pictures, links, discussions, etc. that I hate to lose.  I liked facebook, and I still like it somewhat, in that it gives me a great way to talk to my close friends and family on a regular basis, and to share with multiple people at the same time when something is going on.  But I don’t want to share EVERYTHING, and I want to have a choice.  Leaving facebook means cutting off a perfect form of communication for me.  It has been even more critical since I moved across the country and away from friends and family.  But I cannot and will not share every element of my life with everyone on facebook.  I do not want that control taken away from me, the control over what I share and with whom.

But the forthcoming changes are not just annoying.  They could be dangerous.  I’m still in a “wait and see” and “sitting on the fence” attitude.  But facebook may just have numbered its days with me.  I don’t think I can trust my information with them much longer, which is a sad, sad thing.  It was such a perfect thing before they started messing with it.