Relax, enraged Facebook users, everything’s going to be OK

facebook-outrage-shutterstock

Prepare yourselves, people, it’s about to get ugly.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerbeg announced Thursday a slew of major changes to the popular social network. The updates – things like “Timeline,” which is a completely re-imagined version of the profile; and “Open Graph,” which allows users to share nearly any thing or activity in their life on their Wall – will profoundly alter the way people use the site. And while these changes are still weeks away for most users, I already know one thing for sure: Everyone is going to be mad.

Prior to the big f8 announcements, Facebook made a few alterations to the way Facebook works. First, they integrated the “Top News” and “Most Recent” sections of the News Feed so that everything appears on one page. Posts are now chosen algorithmically based upon user engagement, rather than appearing in chronological order. Next, they added the “ticker,” which appears along the right side of the page, and displays literally every activity a person does on the site.

Instantaneously, it seemed, a vocal majority of my friends erupted into an orgy of hate, spewing vitriol about every aspect of the new features in an endless stream of enraged posts. Pretty soon, my Top News, Most Recent news and the ticker were all packed with complaints about the changes.

“What in the hell is everyone so mad about?” I wondered. “Am I missing something here?”

I, for one, think the update to the News Feed is a much-needed changed. Long ago, I’d grown weary of clicking the “Most Recent” link every day, just to see what was going on with my friends at that moment. And the ticker, while it makes me feel a bit like everyone I know is constantly looking over my shoulder, is easy enough to ignore.

Essentially, it seems to me everyone is making much ado about nothing.

To be sure, there are good reasons to complain about Facebook. It’s privacy policies, while improved from years past, remain a concern – and the introduction of Timeline and Open Graph are sure to crack open a whole new barrel of problems. Users’ personal information is used to sell advertising, which packs Zuckerberg’s pockets full of cash. The site is regularly used by authorities – from employers to the FBI – to keep track of private citizen’s activities. And despite the fact that children under the age of 13 are officially banned from using the site, Consumer Reports estimates that around 7.5 million of them have a profile.

These are reasons to be angry with Facebook. A slight reorganization of a feature is not. And besides, if you really don’t like it, there’s always Google+.

Of course, this is far from the first time Facebook design changes resulted in user backlash. In fact, every design change, from the introduction of the News Feed in 2006 to the “Happening Now” feature that rolled out in June of this year, have caused an uproar loud enough to be heard from space. We now expect the anger, justified or not.

It is this inevitable bickering about a social network that makes me think I’ve missed the point of the outrage altogether; that complaining about life is as social an activity as it gets. People love their own righteous indignation. And nothing achieves that fuzzy feeling better than a group hate session about something to which everyone can relate. What else is a social network for, if not to lament our woes, and to feel happier because of it?

By now, the wizards at Facebook have surely figured this out. So it’s unlikely that the hullabaloo that resulted from this week’s changes caught the team in Palo Alto off guard. It’s even possible that they planned the whole thing, knowing what changes they had in store.

“One way to change something big is to get people really riled up about how you’ve changed something small,” writes Nicholas Thompson on the New Yorker. “Repaint the boat, and let them to argue about that. By the time they’ve realized that green is no worse than blue, they won’t have the energy to wonder whether it was a smart idea for you to set sail for Australia.”

So perhaps that’s what Facebook is doing — manipulating us to serve its own ends. And, if you ask me, that kind of blatant deception is something to get upset about.

[Image via Helder Almeida/Shutterstock]

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Smart Home

Will everything from lamps to fridges be spying on me? Yes, and I’m creeped out

With the debut of Panasonic’s HomeHawk lamp with built-in video camera, should we be concerned that everything -- from couches to dishwashers -- could soon be spying on us? Here’s why the answer to that question is yes.
Gaming

How you can share your best gaming moments with friends on the PS4

Check out Digital Trends' quick guide to everything you need to know to save your outstanding PlayStation 4 gameplay moments, share them online, and transfer them to your computer.
Social Media

Facebook explains its worst outage as 3 million users head to Telegram

Facebook, if you didn't already know it, suffered a bit of an issue on Wednesday, March 13. An issue that took down not only its social networking site, but also Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. On Thursday it offered an explanation.
Mobile

Hey Google, why did you kill off Allo, your best messaging app in years?

Allo, Google's messaging app, has shut down. I convinced my closest friends and family to switch to the app two-and-a-half years ago when it debuted, and we've been using it since. With its death, I'm feeling pain and sadness.
Product Review

With its gem-cut design, HP’s near-perfect Spectre x360 2-in-1 is a shining jewel

HP’s updated Spectre x360 13 is dubbed “gem-cut” for a reason. It looks like a gem cutter went to work on the chassis, and the result is glorious. It’s also fast, well-built, and lasts long on a charge. What else could you need?
Computing

Debunking Dark Mode: Here’s why it won’t improve your laptop’s battery life

Dark Mode is known to improve battery life for certain devices, like a smartphone with an OLED screen. Does that apply to laptops, as well? To find out we tested two laptops, one running Windows and one running MacOS.
Computing

In the age of Alexa and Siri, Cortana’s halo has grown dim

In a sea of voice assistants, Cortana has become almost irrelevant. The nearly five-year-old voice assistant is seeing little love from consumers, and here’s why it is dead.
Gaming

Logitech’s newest headsets sound as good as they look, but they’re not perfect

Logitech's G935 and G432 bring style and impressive sound to the table. They boast leatherette earpads, positional 3D sound, and 50mm drivers, Logitech has become a formidable adversary for competitors, but the company's new headsets aren't…
Gaming

EA is losing out on the true potential of Titanfall studio with ‘Apex Legends’

Apex Legends is a solid battle royale game, but one can’t shake the feeling that its creation was dictated by Respawn’s new owners: Electronic Arts. In the process, the studio’s soul could be lost.
Gaming

The 'Anthem' demo's crash landing raises more questions than answers

Bioware bravely allowed gamers to see a large chunk of 'Anthem' over two demo weekends, but it backfired. Lackluster missions, performance issues, and muddled messaging over micro-transactions leaves the game with an uphill battle.
Gaming

Apex Legends proves battle royale is no fad. In fact, it’s just getting started

Apex Legends came out of nowhere to take the top spot as battle royale in 2019, and it now looks as if it'll be the biggest game of the year. Its sudden success proves the battle royale fad still has plenty of life left in it.
Home Theater

Apple is arming up to redefine TV just like it did the phone

Curious about what Apple's answer to Netflix will be? Us too. So we combed through some patents, and looked at the landscape, to come up with a bold prediction: Apple's streaming service will be way bigger than anyone thinks.
Home Theater

How the headphone jack helps Samsung out-Apple the king

Samsung’s latest flagship phones and wearables unveiled at the Galaxy Unpacked event had plenty of exciting new tech. But one of the most useful features Samsung revealed is also the oldest: The mighty headphone jack.
Gaming

Age of Empires II thrives 20 years later. Here's what Anthem could learn from it

Age Of Empires II is approaching its 20th birthday. It has a loyal following that has grown over the past five years. New always-online games like Anthem would love to remain relevant for so long, but they have a problem. They're just not…