Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Facebook Turns Newsfeed Into a Social Magazine to Highlight Big Pictures and Top Stories

Little Google+ popped its head up this morning to launch a few features and open to the public. Not so fast, growled Facebook: This is our week! So even though Facebook is essentially holding the tech news cycle hostage through a two-pronged attack of leaks and announcements in the run-up to its f8 developer conference on Thursday, the company called us to talk about a bonus launch today.

Here’s what’s new: Facebook will today start rolling out a revamp of its newsfeed that will make it more like a social magazine, weighting big pictures and important stories.

Yes, yet again, Facebook is redesigning a core feature and taking away options users have come to expect. Instead of the “top news” and “most recent” toggle options, users will see a newsfeed with the most important items since they last visited Facebook. So if they incessantly check the site, they’ll see new stuff every time. If they go out of town for a week, they’ll see highlights from the time they were gone.

And lest people feel as though the pace of Facebook is slowing down, the site is also offering an alternate view, one that will constantly scroll down a sidebar at the side of the page. This “Ticker” — which some users have had in tests for a while now — shows a live feed of nearly every action a users’ friends are taking across the site, including likes, statuses and comments.

Meanwhile, the size of photos displayed in the newsfeed will double. Larger photos is probably the change users will notice the most, Facebook VP Engineering Mike Schroepfer said in an interview today.

Schroepfer said he disagreed with my assertion that Facebook seems to be overcomplicating and expanding its feature set. “The new news feed is, in our mind, a simplification,” he said.

“The thing I personally find exciting is realizing three quarters of a billion people use the product and that range of experience can be someone with 15 friends to someone with tens of thousands of subscribers who uses the site for four hours every day,” he added. “We are adding some features but trying to do our best to simplify what we can and make them optional.”

Maybe next year if Facebook has this much stuff to launch it should just schedule a two-day f8 conference!

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik