The New Facebook Changes: From the Eyes of the Average User

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I was delighted when I received this interesting guest post from enthusiastic Sophie Bratt (Psychology graduate from Cheshire). Sophie outlines the changes put in place for Facebook and how they can effect the standard user.

A great way to ‘stay connected’: Facebook proves how credible it is with some astonishing figures:
1)    Over 800 million active users, over 50 % of which log-in daily
2)    Over 250 million photos are uploaded per day
3)    More than 2 billion posts are ‘liked’ or commented on per day
4)    And, the site is now available in more than 70 languages.

So for the average person, using Facebook has become part of daily life. It’s how we keep up-to-date with friends, family, co-workers, events, photos and who ‘likes’ what. We even might be ‘friends’ with people who are actually just acquaintances and enjoy the odd ‘Facebook stalk’ of someone we wish to know more about. Whichever way we use it, Facebook is a central aspect of our day-to-day life… and it’s not going away.
Reaching such a huge global platform makes it easy to see why Facebook has to remain up-to-date, user friendly and safety conscious: to protect its users and keep them engaged. However, although many of its new changes have been met with praise Facebook is not without its critics. Latest updates like larger image displays and the opportunity to download images are amongst new features that are particularly user-friendly. It seems that to the digital-native, constant developments to Facebook are easy to overcome.

However, this is not the case for the non-digital native, the kind of person who has just got to grips with how to use Facebook. For this category of users, the renovation could appear some what confusing. Making it easier to group friends into categories is a good idea, overall. This means that when you post something, you can either make it visible publicly to either friends, to a certain ‘group’ of friends, friends of friends or a custom set of personally selected individuals. A good idea in theory, this new change may work well, however I am unsure how many people will actually feel the need to use this feature. It  is also eerily similar to the new Google+ ‘circles’ feature which encourages users from the offset to categorise all contacts in such a way.

Another new change Facebook has introduced is the ‘subscribe’ feature. This new aspect allows you to subscribe to the status updates, events, photo’s, comments and likes of an individual or organisation without actually being friends with them. This could be seen as an addition to the privacy settings, or indeed a flaw in them. Subscribing to a user means that you can learn all sorts about that user but without having to send a request of friendship. The subscribe feature has been likened to the concept of ‘following’ someone on Twitter, which poses the thought, is Facebook just trying to keep up with the Joneses?

Finally, and possibly one of the most important of the new changes to Facebook, is the talk of how the social media platform is now offering more information about users to its advertisers. The new package for advertisers allows them access not only to the information of their ‘fans’ but also ‘friends of fans’- ultimately widening their audience. This new tool allows companies to see what is being discussed on their page, and utilises the ‘people talking about this’ feature to encourage discussion. Although these changes may be positive for companies, Facebook’s ‘big brother’ knowledge is getting increasingly more difficult for people to control, no matter how many privacy features Facebook installs. Even when logged out of your account, Facebook has access to all sorts of our online activity and uses such information to sell to big companies wanting to promote their products and services.

However, although people make complaints against Facebook, they still use it and always will. The fact of the matter is: to the bog-standard user Facebook is free. If we wanted to set up a page to network and market one of our own products or services, Facebook would be there at the forefront of Social Media allowing us to do so at little or no cost. So for that, I say thank you to Facebook for “Giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected,” it does exactly what it says on the tin!

Written by: Sophie Bratt 22, a Psychology graduate from Cheshire, North West England.  She is currently looking to break into the field of marketing and advertising, and is presently seeking work experience in these areas. 

 

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