If the Internet is a Democracy, why Don't we Use it?
This article from The Guardian, discusses the latest uproar about Facebook. As most of you probably know, Facebook has once again changed. This time, it’s our (OUR news feed, Facebook. Not the news feed) newsfeed. Supposedly, it should be more individually tailored, at least, that’s what they say; "News Feed picks stories that we think you'll enjoy based on a variety of factors including how many friends have liked and commented on it and how likely you are to interact with that story," said Facebook's Raylene Yung, an engineer at Facebook HQ.
As the article quite rightly says, what makes this different is that “Facebook didn't prepare the users. Previously, users have been warned of changes to the site by explanations on their homepages. This time the changes were revealed in a hard-to-find blogpost. The users didn't get involved. Facebook broke the unwritten internet rule of transparency.”
Needless to say (you’ve probably received an invite or 6), there are many groups popping up all over Facebook, demanding they change it back. You know – it’s the same thing that happens each and every time something changes. Remember in Spring when Facebook announced it would change it’s terms of service? The place exploded! So Facebook did ‘the right thing’, and tried to calm the storm by letting users choose their own set of rules called the Facebook Principles and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Good for them! They responded to the protest, and really opened up to an unprecedented level.
But, only 600,000 voted.
Right now, there is a group, Millions Against Facebook’s New Layout & Terms of Service which was formed in July 2008 as a response to the initial layout changes, but has become a general discontent group. There are just under 2.5 million members. 2.5 million. That’s quite a lot. There are many, many other groups solely dedicated to (hating) the new news feed changes. Some boasting over a million.
There’s no doubt that Facebook did wrong; they should have given notice, reason, and allowed for feedback before the changes were made. But can we really blame them given our history? 600,000 votes?