Recent Facebook changes are unnecessary, annoying

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Many of you probably know that the Carnegie Mellon sororities hosted their annual Formal Membership Recruitment (FMR) this past week. Would you like to know how I knew it was FMR week? Through Facebook, of course! — through multiple excited wall posts and exclamatory status updates incessantly streaming through my news feed.

Throughout the week (especially on bid night), my Facebook would update every two seconds with a new post about how great FMR was and how much my friends and acquaintances “<3” their new sororities or members. Quite frankly, it was a bit much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the sororities for this attack; I’m blaming the new Facebook.

Yes, Mark Zuckerberg and company initiated some minor facade changes to their website once again. They introduced a sidebar that streams live updates, a top story feature, and a subscribe feature. It seems that the company is trying to encapsulate features from every popular social media and networking site and squish them into Facebook. You could credit the live-stream sidebar to Twitter and the subscription feature that allows you to choose what you share to Google+.

As of now, Facebook’s new layout and features are just messy. The main news feed does not update or refresh as quickly anymore; focus seems to have shifted to the smaller version that follows you as you scroll up and down the page. These recent additions are just annoying. Updates and posts now show up in multiple locations on the screen, allowing for overwhelming spam attacks like the one I experienced. I can no longer simply scroll through my news feed at my own leisurely pace; these features make that nearly impossible.
Not surprisingly, this was not what Facebook executives intended to do with the new changes.

“Now, news feed will act more like your own personal newspaper. You won’t have to worry about missing important stuff, said Mark Tonkelowitz, Facebook’s engineering manager, in a Huffington Post article. “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.”

Obviously Tonkelowitz and the other Facebook employees are trying to make their website the No. 1 social media site, and consider many new and similar sites serious competition. However, despite the number of social networking sites popping up on the internet scene, Facebook set the standard by which all other sites are measured. Throwing so many features, applications, special additions, and games onto the site will not make it any more competitive or any more appealing for that matter. To be honest, Facebook doesn’t need all that fluff.

People first swarmed to Facebook to connect with people across the world; they did not sign up to play Farmville or take quizzes about which Disney princess they are. The company should keep that in mind the next time it tries to introduce more changes.