Facebook users protest new features

Candace Hilton logged onto a computer in Coleman Library Tuesday afternoon to check her Facebook account and was shocked at what appeared on the screen.

Like many students at Florida A&M University, Hilton, 20, was disturbed by the newest features on the Web site.

Facebook, the social network which links millions of high school and college students across the country, has received a large amount of national criticism since its addition of “news feeds” and “mini-feeds” earlier this week.

“This is just way too much,” said Hilton, a third-year elementary education student from Orlando. “Facebook has gone too far.”

News feeds, which appear at a user’s homepage, provide users with headlines generated by activities such as changes in a person’s relationship status and the posting of messages on other users’ walls.

The mini-feed feature, which appears on a user’s profile, is similar except it focuses only on the user’s activities.

Each user’s mini-feed shows recent changes to their profile and content.

This feature enables members of the same social network to see when a user has accepted or declined friend requests and invitations to events or groups.

To most Facebook users, this function is nothing more than an invasion of privacy. Friends Clifton Addison and Cirilo Manego, both 20, said the site is beginning to expose too much personal information. They said they fail to see the logic behind these new features.

“If I wanted everyone to know when I wrote something on Cliff’s wall, I would send a message to everyone saying ‘look at what I wrote on Cliff’s wall,'” said Manego, a third-year pre-physical therapy student from New Orleans.

Some students are concerned the feature will encourage “stalker-like” tendencies among Facebook users.

“(Facebook) used to put out a lot of personal information before the news feeds but at least it was controllable,” said Addison, a third-year political science student from Miami. “Now it’s just crazy.”

FAMU students are not the only people angered by Facebook’s facelift.

Since Tuesday, more than 400 anti-news feed groups have been created on the site, one of the most popular being a global group titled “Students Against Facebook News Feeds.”

The group’s membership jumped from 599,442 to 600,125 in five minutes and the numbers continued to rise.

Mark Zuckeburg, Facebook’s founder, advised users to calm down in a blog posted Tuesday.

He said that while the site’s moderators are aware of the users’ response, they think news feeds and mini-feeds are great products.

“We’re not oblivious of the Facebook groups popping up about this,” the blog stated. “And we agree, stalking isn’t cool; but being able to know what’s going on in your friends’ lives is. This is information people used to dig for on a daily basis, nicely reorganized and summarized so people can learn about the people they care about.”

Zurckerburg said while the features may have changed, the privacy options remain the same. Still, users are unimpressed with Facebook’s response.

While some anti-news feed users quietly accept the new features, others are taking a stand. Some Facebook users have united to boycott the social network in an initiative they are calling “a day without Facebook.”

According to a new Web site, www.daywithoutfacebook.blog.com, this initiative calls for all Facebook users to boycott the network Sept. 12.

“It is becoming blatantly apparent that the powers that run Facebook are no longer in it for the community or the users,” the blog stated.

“While we have all appreciated Facebook, it is not a necessary part of our lives and it is not the only way we can keep track of our friends.”

“Do we want to replace Facebook? No, but it would be nice to have the organization be responsive to the concerns of the vast majority of its users,” the blog continued.

As of yesterday, approximately 87,966 users have signed petitions against the news and mini- feeds at www.petitiononline.com.