Why Facebook Is Changing
It seems like every week we log onto Facebook and are greeted with a new set of changes. A few months ago it was the "Live Feed;" then that morphed into a "News Feed" and a "Live Feed." A month or two ago, the entire layout changed. Last week, we began to see "Like" instead of "become a fan." So why are all these changes being made? Why does the entire community react so viciously it seems, when Facebook makes a few changes here and there? I suggest that it isn't so much about privacy, as some blogs have been stating, but instead about usability.
To begin, we have to understand the average Facebook user. While it was originally designed as a site for college students, Facebook has since opened its doors to any person with an email address. So now, mom, grandma, dad, grandpa, Aunt Anny, and Uncle Jack are all on Facebook, attempting to adapt to a site largely affected by the rules of a much younger society. Despite its attempts to make Facebook appealing to everyone, Facebook will never escape criticism unless it remains entirely static, never changing, and never introducing new features. But then, it faces an entirely new set of problems.
Ultimately, Facebook is in a catch-22 situation. It can continue to update and change, spreading its dominance across the web, or it can remain the same. The first option would appeal to the more tech-savvy, design crowd. These people love change and superior design. They want to be able to have new features and eagerly await them. But then, there is the older, more slow to adapt crowd. These users want Facebook to "stop changing the wall!!" as some groups shout.
The issue is that Facebook needs to change. If Facebook's original design was still used, it would have virtually no users, and many would complain that it was outdated. And so, it introduces new changes, gradually but steadily, dealing with the backlash that each change causes. But they rarely, except for in a few major issues, retract their changes. And they don't because they know that people, despite the hundreds of groups that threaten to "leave if Facebook doesn't give us our wall back," won't leave. In fact, they continue to sign up in droves.
The issues that face Facebook are rarely ever actually about privacy. I have over 300 friends, and to this day, I have not heard a single one, either verbally, or in the form of joining a group, question Facebook's privacy practices. The media frequently questions the site, yet only a small sub-set of users ever actually leave or even complain. They accept the changes and move on. Only when Facebook makes a visual, interface change, do people complain. And even then they don't leave.
Facebook is continuing to change because it needs to to survive. And they, more than the users who use it, recognize this. For this reason, Facebook will continually be altering its walls and privacy settings. And it will also remain one of the most visited sites on the entire internet for years to come.