Users rebel against Facebook feature

BY LAYLA ASLANI

Published September 7, 2006

Facebook got a facelift. And some users are mobilizing against the plastic surgeon.

Angela Cesere
(GRAPHIC BY MIKE HULSEBUS/Daily)

On Tuesday, Facebook.com unveiled two new features: News Feed and Mini-Feed.

The News Feed, which dominates the site's redesigned home page, details the every move of users friends. Mini-Feed appears on profiles and shows what each user has been up to on the site.

The Facebook team says it is trying to help users keep up with the lives of their friends, but some say Facebook has gone too far.

"I'm really creeped out by the new Facebook - you can see what everyone else has been doing," said LSA junior Vandana Pulijaal. "It makes me feel like a stalker."

More than 500 Facebook groups have formed in protest.

A quick Facebook search for "News Feed" displays group names ranging from the polite "Anti-Facebook News Feed" to the more explicit "News Feed is a chump dick wuss douchebag asshole prick cheater bitch." Others aim for wit, like "Chuck Norris COME SAVE US from the Facebook News Feed!"

The largest of the groups is "Students against Facebook News Feed (Official Petition to Facebook)" with more than 738,000 members as of press time. The group supports a petition opposing the new feature. The purpose is to convince the site to return to its old format.

The petition demands that Facebook either remove News

s Feed or offer a one-click option allowing users to remove themselves from News Feed. Escaping News Feed under the current system is somewhat complicated: Users must remove each post on their Mini-Feed to hide their Facebook endeavors from friends.

Group members have vowed not to update their profiles until their demands are met.

More than 103,000 Facebook users had signed the online petition as of press time. Petition organizers also run www.savefacebook.com, which keeps concerned students abreast of the latest news on the backlash.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told The Associated Press yesterday that his staff is working to give users additional privacy. These changes may be unveiled today, he said, allowing users to block categories in the feeds. Users would still be able to monitor their friends' Facebook activities by looking at their mini-feeds.

In a Facebook blog entry titled "Calm down. Breathe. We hear you," Zuckerberg addresses the outcry.

"We agree, stalking isn't cool; but being able to know what's going on in your friends' lives is," he wrote. "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."

Although none of the information available via the "new Facebook" is actually new, some students feel uncomfortable because the information is so detailed and easy to find.

"Facebook makes me feel like I'm naked," LSA junior Nick Taylor said. "It's how much information it gives everyone you know."

Although the News Feed opposition is fervent, there is a weak show of support online.

One group, named "Actually, I like the Facebook News Feed," points to its benefits. The group's description says those who want privacy shouldn't be on Facebook anyway. It has only 245 members.

Other groups' descriptions say Facebook users' primary purpose online is to stalk anyway, and that therefore they should embrace the feed, because it does the stalking for them.

As with any issue, there is also indifference.

"I'm not too worried about stalkers," LSA sophomore Annise Moy said. "I don't think I have any."