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TECH TALK: The Now-New-Near Web: Facebook and Feeds

September 20th, 2006 · No Comments

About two weeks ago, Facebook made a change in the home page that users saw when they logged in. This was the announcement made by Ruchi Sanghvi, Facebooks product manager for Feed:

We’ve added two cool features: News Feed, which appears on your homepage, and Mini-Feed, which appears in each person’s profile.

News Feed highlights what’s happening in your social circles on Facebook. It updates a personalized list of news stories throughout the day, so you’ll know when Mark adds Britney Spears to his Favorites or when your crush is single again. Now, whenever you log in, you’ll get the latest headlines generated by the activity of your friends and social groups.

Mini-Feed is similar, except that it centers around one person. Each person’s Mini-Feed shows what has changed recently in their profile and what content (notes, photos, etc.) they’ve added. Check out your own Mini-Feed; if there are any stories you don’t like, you can remove them from your profile.

The features caused a huge uproar among the Facebook community. At a technical level, it was about making awareness of the changes in ones friends much more apparent easily. As Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO, explained, This is information people used to dig for on a daily basis, nicely reorganized and summarized so people can learn about the people they care about. You dont miss the photo album about your friends trip to Nepal. Maybe if your friends are all going to a party, you want to know so you can go too. Facebook is about real connections to actual friends, so the stories coming in are of interest to the people receiving them, since they are significant to the person creating them.

The end-result? Facebook did an about-face and changed the features within a couple days. Mark, once again: We missed this point with News Feed and Mini-Feed and we didnt build in the proper privacy controls right away. This was a big mistake on our part, and Im sorry for it. But apologizing isnt enough. I wanted to make sure we did something about it, and quickly. So we have been coding nonstop for two days to get you better privacy controls. This new privacy page will allow you to choose which types of stories go into your Mini-Feed and your friends News Feeds, and it also lists the type of actions Facebook will never let any other person know about.

What was interesting about this whole debate was the idea that Facebook was trying to make a reality bringing the whats new in the lives of friends as a river of news on a persons profile. And take a persons actions and surface them to friends as part of their river of news. It was, as I think about it, all about the New Web.

Tomorrow: Facebook and Feeds (continued)


TECH TALK The Now-New-Near Web+T

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