Logged into Facebook recently? What was your reaction to the new look? Are you joining the bandwagon and hating on Zuckerberg and company for changing the ways things operate on the world’s most prolific social network yet again? Or maybe you are taking a liking to the new features just tacked onto the site. Whatever your feeling, it’s time you got used to these transformations in appearance and functionality. It’s not like you’re jumping ship and joining Google+ anytime soon (or are you?). Take my hand and let’s tour all of the “improvements” and additions Facebook integrated into the site almost overnight.
The News Feed is no longer split up into two separate sections. Top Stories and Most Recent are now combined into one flowing, constantly updating list. Here’s how Facebook describes it: “All your news will be in a single stream with the most interesting stories featured at the top. If you haven’t visited Facebook for a while, the first things you’ll see are top photos and statuses posted while you’ve been away. They’re marked with an easy-to-spot blue corner. If you check Facebook more frequently, you’ll see the most recent stories first. Photos will also be bigger and easier to enjoy while you’re scrolling through.” Facebook considers “the most interesting stories” to be the status updates, photos, and links that are commented on most. When you see posts that interest you, there’s now an option to mark it as a “Top Story” and this is done by clicking blue corner. Tap it again and Facebook will say “We’ll try not to put more stories like this at the top of your News Feed.” In other words, you can teach Facebook what stories interest you from which friends and hide the ones that you don’t care to see. In sum, the updated News Feed will provide you with friends’ posts depending upon how frequently you visit the site.
The Subscribe Button
The new Subscribe button allows you to tweak exactly what you see in your News Feed. Facebook says you can use it to: “1. Choose what you see from people in News Feed; 2. Hear from people, even if you’re not friends; and 3. Let people hear from you, even if you’re not friends.” In your News Feed, you already see what your friends are posting; with the Subscribe button you can choose how much you see from them–“all updates,” “most updates,” and “important updates only.” Things can be broken down even further. You can decide what types of updates you see; for example, “you could see just photos from one friend, no stories about games from another, and nothing at all from someone else.” Simply hover your mouse over a story in your News Feed and a transparent arrow appears; click it to enter a drop down menu with Subscription settings. You can also subscribe to people you aren’t friends with, like musicians and political figures. If they have a Subscribe button on their profile page, click it and you will receive their public posts in your News Feed. If you want to add a Subscribe button to your profile and allow anyone to view your public posts, click here to activate it.
Facebook has ripped a page from Google+’s playbook to improve the way users organize their friends. Much like Google+, Facebook has made it easier to add and place friends into specific categories, such as School and Work. “Smart lists” are created by Facebook and automatically group your friends together based on location, school, family, etc. For example, “if you list Boston College as a school you’ve attended and your friends John and Sarah do too, then you would instantly have a smart list called “Boston College” with John and Sarah on it.” Facebook has also created Close friends and Acquaintances lists; you can manage these lists yourself and place the appropriate people in them. The Restricted list is for your parents or bosses, people that you want to hide most of your content from; they will only see your Public posts. In fact, you can create as many lists as you like, edit them, and name them whatever you like. Very reminiscent of Circles, eh? Once a list is created, it will appear on the left-hand side of the webpage. When you click a list, your News Feed will show you top and recent stories only from the people in that list. Also, when you go to share a post you now have the option to share content specifically to one or more lists and only the people in them will see it. Facebook is making it easy to get your lists started. From now on when you go to add a new friend or accept a friend request, you will be prompted to add that person to a list (just like Google+ when it forces you to add a new friend to a Circle).
In the top right corner of the webpage, directly integrated into the sidebar is a new feature called Ticker. In essence, it shows you all of your friends’ Facebook actions in real time. “Now when a friend comments, asks a question or shares something like a check in, you’ll be able to join the conversation right away. Click on anything in ticker to see the full story and chime in – without losing your place.” It’s a miniaturized version of the News Feed, and Facebook thinks it makes it easier and faster to see what your friends are up to and initiate conversations around their posts.