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RealTime IT News

Facebook Faithful Protest Changes

Many of the 9 million users that make up Facebook are unhappy that the site has changed a bit.

The social network site has introduced syndication technologies into its fold. Logging into Facebook now brings users to a "News Feed" page that displays their friends' most recent activities.

A subscriber can log onto Facebook and see that one friend has changed his relationship status from being "in an open relationship" to "it's complicated." Or that another friend has uploaded a compromising photo from last night's get-together.

The same information was always available on the friends' profile pages, but now users don't have to dig through profiles for it. Instead, one visit to the feed page and all new information there, piped into one place.

Some Facebook users are getting squeamish about it.

"You went a bit too far this time, Facebook. Very few of us want everyone automatically knowing what we update," Facebook user Ben Parr of Northwestern wrote on the "Students against Facebook News Feed" group page he created.

"Students News Feed is just too creepy, too stalker-esque, and a feature that has to go."

But maybe there's a silver lining here for Facebook? If the massive protests have shown anything, it's that a great many of their users are deeply engaged in the site.

For example, 587,715 members belong to the protest group. That's a lot of impressions for the Verizon banner advertisement on the group's homepage.

Then there's the "National Boycott Facebook Day" group, with its 4,856 members, which is updated regularly. And the "F**k the Facebook" group has only 1,357 members, but as made clear by its title, their enthusiasm is not to underestimated.

"Clearly, Facebook is a site they feel passionate about," Facebook spokesperson Melanie Deitch told internetnews.com, noting the site's impressive user-engagement numbers.

Half of all their users return each day, she said. When they do, they spend over a quarter of an hour perusing their friends' pages and taking in brand impressions, too.

That's a commodity worth protecting, Deitch said. Plus, there are venture capitalists, as well as advertising partner Microsoft to keep happy.

So is Facebook working on something to appease their user-base?

"Oh, you can expect changes," Deitch said.