Commentary | A change we can Facebook in

Point

Andrea Pedrero (CUP)

If you have a Facebook profile, by now you’re fully aware that thousands of users are protesting its complete redesign to the “new Facebook.” It seems Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and other designers pushed the redesign through, and neglected to include the site’s users in the process. Because of that, users are determined in protesting the ugly, inconvenient new design.

The decision is similar to the one Coca-Cola made when it decided to reformulate its soft drink to make it taste a little bit sweeter, and consumers reacted with an unprecedented uproar against the new Coke. Pushed mainly by Coke president Roberto Goizueta, who decided to start producing the new Coke with a minimal amount of market research, the change became known as a “top-down” decision. The protest was so great that Coke surrendered and went back to its original taste. Facebook now finds itself in the same situation.

The new Facebook isn’t just hideous, it’s not even functional. As I’m writing this, people who use Internet Explorer 6 can’t even access the new Facebook. Many people who use Windows must use Explorer by default at some institutions, and they aren’t even allowed to upgrade to a newer Explorer or use a secondary browser like Firefox. Way to block a massive amount of members, guys! To be fair, the developers recognize the problem and are desperately scrambling to fix it.

But the problem goes beyond browser restrictions. Zuckerberg says there are three objectives he wants to accomplish with the new look: he wanted it to look clean, he wanted users to have more control, and he wanted to feature only the most recent news. So far, the results are fail, fail, and fail. Let me explain why.

The new look is chaotic, the profiles are a mess, the margins are too wide, and there’s an excessive amount of wasted white space. Rather than fill up all that useless space, Facebook hid everything behind tabs – there’s even tabs within tabs, all within more tabs! It just makes me have to click more for content. Want to play a game on Facebook? You’ll have to press on the “Boxes” tab. Ironically, it’s the category that usually holds the most exciting content, and yet they gave it the most boring name.

Why should I be loyal to a site that doesn’t care about its users? I took it upon myself to see if there’s anything that compares to Facebook. First, I revisited MySpace and was immediately reminded why I left it in the first place. It has so many spammers that your head spins. And the fact that every second profile plays “I Kissed a Girl” automatically doesn’t help. I tried Google’s Orkut.com and felt like I had returned to “Web 1.0.” I’ll admit some of their groups aren’t bad, but finding those useful groups was too much of a pain. I tried a new social network closer to home: the Vancouver-based web site WordArc.com. I found friends on there who were submitting articles and blogs on topics ranging from politics to creative writing. But it was more like a Facebook for intellectuals, or better yet, Facebook for writers and friends of writers. WordArc.com was too high-brow and serious for me to post any of the silly stuff I do on Facebook.

After my search, I realized what sucks about a top-down decision like Zuckerberg’s. All the people on the bottom suffer, simply because a site like Facebook can afford to make that decision when it has a userbase that’s so loyal to a design that used to just work. Regardless, we should keep making a stink and not give up. And if Zuckerberg sees our loyalty waning, we might have a chance to get the old Facebook back. Consumers have done it before with larger corporations.

Andrea Pedrero is a student at Capilano University. This piece originally appeared in The Capilano Courier, a member of the Canadian University Press.

Counterpoint

Leah Pires

After years of relative apathy, millions are finally uniting to fight a great injustice against humanity. Are they finding a cure for cancer? Giving peace a chance? Putting an end to Scientology? No. They’re campaigning for the right to revert to the old Facebook layout.

What has been called “a merciless top-down decision on the part of Mark Zuckerberg,” “another MySpace clone,” and “annoying and messy” is rallying the online masses to make a change where it really counts: the design of everyone’s favourite social networking web site.

Now, I’m hardly one of those anti-Facebookers – I have no qualms admitting that Facebook has its virtues, and I like to indulge in a little photo-browsing and wall-posting every now and again. You’re not reading the rant of some luddite who thinks Facebook should cease to exist altogether. Just someone who is shocked and appalled at the amount of resistance that is being given to a change as minute and ultimately meaningless as this one.

I don’t feel the need to make an itemized list of reasons why the “new Facebook” is potentially superior to the old one, though I am relieved to have all of that “Hatching Eggs” and “Your Horoscope” and “What German Philosopher Are You?” garbage out of my face. The new Facebook’s flaws or virtues are beside the point. The point is: ultimately, who cares?

The answer to that question is 3,659,289. That’s right, over 3.5-million enraged social networkers are busily protesting this change with every fibre of their online beings.

The group “Please Keep the Old Facebook. The New Version is a Disaster” elucidates the issue: “With all its complicated tabs and buttons along with endless space reserved for commercial advertisements, Facebook could lose potential users.”

In response to the unjust change, Facebook user Andrew Parry writes, “Facebook wont let me ave da old 1 bk how bad!!” When it’s so elegantly articulated, I find it hard to disagree.

Raymond Okekanmi cries plaintively, “If these ‘scenes’ (i.e. hassle with new FB) continue, i will have no other option but to deactivate my account. Hell is low indeed!!!” Low indeed, Raymond, low indeed.

Nicole M. Keach really gets to the root of the issue: “Bumper stickers and all the fun personality stuff is the on the last tab instead of the first page where people come to visit!!!” Good point, Nicole. How can we express ourselves, if not through bumper stickers, Microsoft Paint-level drawings, and “fun personality stuff” – like those “What Sex and the City Character Are You?” quizzes?

The group “1 000 000+ to bring back old facebook” (whose member count clocks in at significantly less than the advertised million members – 400,464, to be exact) proposes an ultimatum: “ATTENTION FACE BOOK: IF YOUR NOT GOING TO CHANGE BACK, (WHICH YOU WILL) AT LEAST SEPARATE THE WALL FROM THE MINI FEED.” Listen “Face book,” you’re going to do what we tell you. You are a computer program, but we know “your” listening.

Millions of angry Facebookers have spoken, and they’re demanding a change! A change back to the way things were before this change!

Listen up, Mark Zuckerberg. You’d better start caring about us, or you’re going to lose us altogether!

Oh. Uh, I mean…. Hm.

Seriously, people. Get a hold of yourselves. If the most moral outrage you have felt in the last month has been over the consolidation of your mini-feed and your wall posts, you need to reevaluate your priorities and maybe close the good ole MacBook for a while. There’s a whole offline world out there just waiting for you; take it, it’s yours. Though I can’t make any promises about whether or not it’ll change its layout anytime soon.

Leah Pires is The Daily’s coordinating Culture editor.


Comments posted on The McGill Daily's website must abide by our comments policy.
A change in our comments policy was enacted on January 23, 2017, closing the comments section of non-editorial posts. Find out more about this change here.