Facebook changes creeping out some customers

Across the Web, folks have been chiming in on how they feel about Facebook's major changes to the user profiles.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
4 min read
Mark Zuckerberg showing off Timeline at F8.
Mark Zuckerberg showing off Timeline at F8. James Martin/CNET

At the F8 conference yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed off some of the most drastic changes ever made to the company's service. And though Zuckerberg is excited by those changes, many folks across the Web aren't so quick to celebrate.

The fear among some users relates to what some say could become a potentially worrisome privacy situation on the social network, led by Timeline and changes to Open Graph.

Timeline provides users with a way to view "the story of your life," according to Zuckerberg, including a collection of all the "stories" uses have shared on Facebook over the years, as well as the pictures they've posted and the applications they've used.

Facebook's updated Open Graph will make the social network far more "sticky." Zuckerberg said users will have the ability--thanks to Timeline and a new addition, Ticker--to see what a friend is doing, like watching a movie on Netflix or listening to a song on Spotify, and engage in that same activity from within the social network. The Facebook CEO said he believes the improvements will help create "a completely new class of social apps" that will let users share every single facet of their lives on the social network.

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"All those activities people perform with these apps--listening to a Bjork tune, reading about same-sex marriage laws, cooking Arroz con Pollo, running four miles, donating to Amnesty International--will be stored permanently and made accessible (if the user allows it) on a greatly enhanced profile page that will essentially become a remote-control autobiography," Wired's Steven Levy wrote about the update.

It's that concept of Facebook becoming an "autobiography" that's scaring some folks.

"Is there any way I can upload my browser history, bank statements, and medical records to Facebook?" Twitter user @adrianshort asked today. "Might as well do this properly."

Those sentiments were echoed earlier today by CNET commenter "OneAmazedHuman" who said that the social network's additions are making some people consider leaving the site.

"Frankly, after this last round of messing around with Facebook, there are a whole lot of us thinking seriously about dumping it," OneAmazedHuman wrote. "[I] hate everything they threw at us lately. What happened to 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it?'

"Facebook is getting too intrusive and sneaky," OneAmazedHuman continued. "If I can find another place to play Scrabble, I'm probably out of there. I can live without it nicely. When it was fun, it was fun. It isn't that anymore. Thanks, Zuckerberg. Why didn't you just create something new to mess around with and leave Facebook as is?"

Mark Zuckerberg talks about Ticker and the Open Graph at F8 yesterday.
Mark Zuckerberg talks about Ticker and the Open Graph at F8 yesterday. James Martin/CNET

However, there are some people who have already left Facebook because of the changes. One Twitter user, @qwghlm, tweeted earlier today that "after F8 last night, I decided to finally quit Facebook." CNET commenter "JamesOnTheWay" said that he too dropped Facebook and has moved over to Google+.

Drastic measures aside, there are some who are taking a wait-and-see approach to Facebook's changes. Twitter user @JulesHanna tweeted yesterday that the F8 presentation "reinforced my belief that Facebook's becoming the operating system of the human Web. Brilliant, yet alarming in its implications."

Though the outcry over Facebook's changes is strong, the company has survived such complaints in the past. In 2009, following a major redesign of the site, the social network was hit hard by users who complained about the changes. At the time, a Facebook app that polled users on their thoughts about the changes found that hundreds of thousands of users were upset by the move. And like now, many of those folks said that they would leave the social network.

That said, at that time, Facebook had more than 175 million users. At the F8 conference yesterday, it was revealed that Facebook now has over 800 million members worldwide. So if those departures did, in fact, occur, they certainly weren't crippling to the social network.

Also playing into Facebook's favor this time around, there isn't near-universal outcry over the changes like there was in 2009. In fact, there are some people that are quite pleased with the company's modifications.

"Got my new Facebook timeline looking good," Twitter user @angelarenee09 tweeted today. "Love these fun changes!"

So, while that might just be one opinion, it's quite clear that in the social world, everyone has a different idea of what's good and bad. And Facebook--for better or worse--is learning that all over again today.

Facebook did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on user reaction to the changes.