Facebook tests revamped 'notes' to counter Tumblr and Medium

The social-networking giant is allowing some users to create blog posts that have a new slick look and feel, a sign of Facebook's growing ambitions.

Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read

Facebook is reworking one of its oldest features. Getty Images

When politicians or celebrities want to have their minds heard these days, they don't send out a press release or always call up a reporter. They post on social-networking sites and blogs.

To help them out, Facebook is testing a new look for its "notes" feature, a service it began offering in 2006 as a way for users to "write out thoughts on any topic and incorporate them directly into your profile." The new look being tested on a small subset of users takes cues from popular competitors like Yahoo's Tumblr and Medium, featuring simple backgrounds punctuated by large photos.

"We're testing an update to Notes to make it easier for people to create and read longer-form stories on Facebook," a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement.

The move is a sign the world's largest social network recognizes the increasing importance of these blog posts. Politicians like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and pop stars like Taylor Swift have used these services to speak to fans in a way that's easily shareable. In Palin's case, her posts have become the talk of politics, while Swift's piece about Apple Music pushed the tech giant to change the way it does business.

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Some users have access to this new notes feature on Facebook. Screenshot by Ian Sherr/CNET

While Facebook has become a place where many high-profile people write lengthy posts, they're often barebones text with none of the visual flourishes many other sites offer. As a result, not many people appear to use the service, and the company itself hasn't spoken of it in years. Even Facebook's own communications team stopped using the feature in 2012.

It isn't common for Facebook to let a feature languish without updates. As its staff has grown, pegged at 10,955 as of June, it's expanded the projects it works on to range from search technology to new apps and even things like virtual reality.

The company hasn't said when or even if its new notes feature will be available. In the mean time, more notes with new looks are bound to pop up on the site.