Thursday, March 12, 2009

Facebook Has a New Homepage. Again.

Facebook has reinvented itself yet again, this time taking aim at social networking competitors such as Twitter and Friendfeed. The most significant overhaul is the renovation of the News Feed that users see when the first login. As of this week the News Feed has moved to a real-time format, meaning that updates are instantaneous as opposed to occurring every "10 to 20 minutes" as they did in the past.

I first discovered Facebook's new homepage when I logged in this morning. Not even done my first coffee of the day, I must admit that the new format was confusing and I felt quite disoriented. At least I was greeted by a message from the always-friendly Facebook folk. "You're looking at the real-time stream of posts from your friends and connections. Control the stream using the filters on the left. To hide posts from friends in this stream, click the "x" in the upper-right corner of a post."

Smack in the middle and occupying more than a third of the page, this "real-time stream of posts" definitely takes center stage. I am not sure how thrilled I am about this, especially given that I primarily use Facebook for messaging friends, making plans, looking at pictures and, of course, the occasional creeping.

While I may not love it (at least not yet) I understand what the new Twitter-esque Facebook homepage is trying to do. By changing the News Feed to a real-time format, Facebook is cleverly positioning itself as a solid alternative (as opposed to just a compliment) to other real-time social networking sites. This format also has the advantage of encouraging users to stay logged on all day, as opposed to only checking in periodically, to see what their friends are up too.

Although I am still not totally convinced, it looks like Mark Zuckerberg has done it again. Reinvention seems to be the name of the game at Facebook, and a lot of people seem to be excited by this change. Are you one of them?