Facebook’s Recent Changes Are Bad For Low-Vision Users



FacebookNothing seems to get the internet’s collective ire up more than changes to Facebook. The social network has changed its layout and functionality many times over the years. Whenever it does this, my News Feed lights up with plenty of complaints. People even start special groups, pages, and petitions designed to convince Facebook to change things back to how they worked before. And while I guess all of that organized venting helps some of these users feel better, it rarely causes Facebook to do an about face (no pun intended). Every time one of these incidents becomes the meme du jour, I just ignore it and move on with my life. Because getting mad about Facebook is an exercise in futility. Facebook isn’t beholden to users since (despite commonly circulated rumors) none of us are paying to use Facebook, and the platform is now so big, it isn’t really concerned with the loss of a couple, or even a couple thousand, users.

But now the tide has turned for me. I’m legally blind. When I look at Facebook using Safari on my iMac, I use the pinch-to-zoom function available thru my wireless trackpad. This allows me to blow up the News Feed to a size that’s comfortable for me to read. I’ve done it this way for years without incident. Until yesterday. I logged in to Facebook and used the zoom function, just as I have been doing. The result was this:

Facebook zoom

The right-hand sidebar now “floats” to the left and partially covers the News Feed. Zooming in more increases the problem.

I posted about this on Twitter:

And I sent a message thru Facebook’s feedback form, which generated this reply via e-mail:

Hi,

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback. We’re constantly trying to improve Facebook, so it’s important that we hear from the people who use it. Unfortunately, we can’t respond to your emails individually, but we are paying attention to them. We appreciate you taking the time to write to us.

If you’re having any problems with your account, please visit the Help Center (http://www.facebook.com/help) where you’ll find information about Facebook as well as the answers to many of your questions.

Thanks again for your feedback,
The Facebook Team

I don’t really expect to receive a response from Facebook thru either medium. But I do hope that at least one human actually sees the tweet and/or the feedback message, and that person is able to forward it to someone who will also look at it and at least consider it before tossing it away forever.

I don’t necessarily expect Facebook (or any platform) to make changes for me. I don’t expect them to make changes to suit what is assuredly a minority user base (low-vision users). But this change really has no merit. I understand that Facebook delivers a lot of ads thru that sidebar, and Facebook relies on these ads. I don’t have a problem with that, and I’m guessing they added the “floating” capability to the sidebar in order to ensure those ads would move with users who scroll thru their News Feeds. But there must be a way to set the sidebar so it doesn’t have to float to the left like this.

After all, it didn’t do this two days ago.