Facebook CEO appeared on Sunday's 60 Minutes broadcast to talk up new user profile changes that rolled out today to the network's 350 million users. As might be expected with any change to a homepage, users reacted swiftly — and not positively.
The San Francisco Chronicle notes user comments posted on Facebook's official announcement, including "This new layout is just confusing and makes us more like a set of numbers and links than an actual human with that 'profile' feel. Can you please stop 'updating' the aesthetics of Facebook as we once knew it to make it into a social media nightmare?" and "Why is my job showing up next to my name ... It's never happened before, & I did not authorize it!"
The revamped user profile layout aims to puts the kind of information you’d exchange with a friend in a bar (job, education, likes) front and center. Sharing information and images about interests and activities is more prominent, or as the FB blog states: "You can list the projects you worked on at your job, classes you took in school, your favorite musicians and sports teams, and more."
A new user synopsis appears at the top of the page, featuring basic bio and background details; latest tagged photos appear prominently (and comply with chosen privacy settings); the ability to highlight a limited number of friends and family members on their profile page; the Friends page enables search by name, hometown, school and other attributes.
An "infinite scroll" feature makes it faster and easier to browse all photos rather than click a link to see "more" photos. Everything now happens within the page, instead of having to jump around.
Some observers also dismissed Zuckerberg's 60 Minutes interview (here's part 1 and part 2) as manipulation of a major media franchise and a masterful PR move to recast the so-called "toddler CEO."
Facebook continues to test and rearrange the behavioral norms of social media even as it defines them. For example, a surge of gaming activity over the past year has led to the introduction of new “gaming” and “applications” shortcuts that take users to galleries to shop for software to install.
"I do expect there to be significant push back from Facebook members, both because of the interface changes as well as the new social dynamics that will need to be gotten used to. And of course, privacy will always remain a valid and pressing concern," writes Charlene Li, founder of digital consulting firm Altimeter.
As for advertising, Li adds that while Facebook has added features linked to Fan pages or recent "Likes," the profile page remains static, "and that's a problem when the advertising that Facebook offers is keyed off the explicit information included in a person's profile."
As for the potency of those social dynamics involved, Google trends Saturday morning showed almost all of the 20 most actively searched terms had to do with "old cartoons."
That's because at the same time Facebook was prepping the new profile page, a viral campaign was circulating to change your profile picture to an old cartoon image to raise awareness of violence against children – which raised suspicions that it was a move by pedophiles to make user profiles more child-friendly. The three-ring circus continues.