Coping with Facebook changes

It’s a real-time scrolling list of what your friends are up to, whether posting a message, updating their profile, adding a new friend or listening to a music track via Spotify. Why anyone in their right mind (yes, that means you Zuckerberg) would imagine that I’d want to know any of this stuff is beyond me. There it sits, scrolling away like Facebook’s Mini-Me, or perhaps a Twitter-Lite.

Coping with Facebook changes

Actually, although that Twitter jibe was just a throwaway joke, on reflection it could well be at the core of this ticker concept – Facebook’s half-baked response to a perceived threat from Twitter – even though I maintain that the two social networks are miles apart in function and appeal to totally different demographics.

It’s a phantom threat, because where there is crossover, users such as myself will have both Facebook and Twitter accounts rather than one or the other, and will use whichever best suits a particular occasion. I post quick updates and links to news stories or blogs I’ve written via Twitter, making the most of its restrictive character limit; more conversational stuff happens on Facebook, which is better suited to threaded debates and prolonged social wittering.

In my opinion, adding the ticker into the Facebook mix crowds the desktop interface screen, making it cluttered, unsightly and confusing.

In my opinion, adding the ticker into the Facebook mix crowds the desktop interface screen, making it cluttered, unsightly and confusing

But as I said at the start, there’s always a workaround, and for many people it’s a plugin for either Chrome or Firefox, which simply turns off the ticker feed. It isn’t the solution for me, though, because it means granting the plugin access to your Facebook data, so it can cut out the ticker stuff – and in any case, it isn’t necessary.

My far simpler solution is to resize my browser window: making it a tad smaller causes the ticker to magically shrink away into a much smaller box that you can pretty much ignore.

If you do want to go down the browser extension/plugin route to fix Facebook, then one cross-browser solution that seems to work with everything except Internet Explorer is Better Facebook.

This plugin gives you total control over just about every aspect of the Facebook user interface and will allow you to remove most of your irritations.

Timeline to trouble

I’d like to believe this “I Hate New Facebook” story will go away after a week or so once people have become used to the “improvements”, but it ain’t gonna happen, because Zuckerberg is intent on tweaking as though there’s no tomorrow.

Well, not quite tomorrow perhaps, but we’ve already seen yet another tweak to the interface with the introduction of the new Facebook Timeline feature.

This replaces the existing user profile layout by turning it into a highly graphical archive of your entire online life with Facebook – in other words, more of your data will be shared with others and on public display than ever before.

Throw in the arrival of Facebook “social apps” as part of this new Timeline profile, and you’ll have a personal outline that includes real-time reporting of what you’ve been listening to (and the ability to share it) via a Spotify app, and the same for movie watching via Netflix, or an equivalent app.

I’ll admit to becoming a little worried at just where this frantic monetisation of my online life and data will stop for Zuckerberg and Facebook – it seems quite obvious to me that this is what the Timeline feature is really all about.

The deeper it can mine into the wide-open graph of your online life, the more accurately Facebook will be able to target adverts in your direction, and hence the more it will be able to charge those firms whose adverts are being flung in your face. These social apps will need to have robust privacy options that enable me to opt out of pretty well everything, before they get my seal of approval.

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