End of the creeper feed: Facebook’s done away with the Ticker
Facebook is no stranger to axing features when the zeitgeist no longer warrants them, and the latest victim appears to be the Ticker – a live stream of your friends’ Facebook activities that appeared to the right of your screen, directly above your list of online contacts. The feature was regarded dubiously by some, with people feeling uneasy about Facebook voyeurs lurking on the site, silently watching their acquaintances’ activity unfold in real time. Although why anyone cares who *might* attend Winter Wonderland 2017, or who’s faring particularly well on FarmVille is, frankly, beyond me.
The feature was initially introduced in 2011, in an update that ended the cluttering up of News Feeds with indiscriminate live activity. Instead, Facebook’s algorithms were tinkered with to streamline what appears on the primary feed, tailoring content to individuals’ personal interactions, events and likes. A heavier engagement with certain individuals leads to them featuring more prominently on your feed, with the inverse also being true. The Ticker supplemented this more selective News Feed with a no-holds-barred stream of activity, from everyone and of everything you’re “friends” with.
The site hasn’t given a reason for its decision to axe the Ticker, commenting enigmatically, “This feature is no longer available”. Our speculations are threefold: firstly, that the feature made some feel uneasy at the prospect of voyeuristic users silently watching others’ lives digitally unfold; secondly, that, for the bulk of users, the feature was largely redundant, not to mention stultifying – who’s really tuning into to the social minutiae of their 400-odd friends? The curated News Feed is where it’s at.
But we suspect the primary reason behind the culling of the Ticker is that the feature no longer taps into the brand Facebook is attempting to cultivate, that of the largest news aggregator and distributor in the world. Recent years have seen Facebook amass a reputation as a news source of its own accord, albeit with compromised integrity (see: the 2016 US election). And while Zuckerberg’s taking security measures to rectify the fake news that abounds on Facebook, it seems that the broader ethos of the site is shifting. The nucleus of friends, acquaintances, and over-zealous grandparents that previously held the site together is being displaced as Facebook embraces its news-centric, information-spouting identity. The Ticker’s demise might just encapsulate this overhaul.