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Facebook Upgrades To Keep In Line With Google+

Social networks are big business today, as we all know from the well documented story of Facebook co-creator and 14th richest person in the world, Mark Zuckerberg. With the launch of Facebook’s main competitor, Google+, in July this year, some updates to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ were surely close behind.

So low and behold, people were greeted with a revised and updated Facebook layout last week, but with such sweeping changes will people be put off? Some of the main differences and new introductions were:

  • Changes to the news feed mean that you now see ‘top stories’ above the most recent ones, with a button on the top right of the feed to change to most recent instead.
  • Facebook now features a ‘subscribe’ button in addition to the ‘friend’ option. It’s very similar to the way Twitter works, and ‘circles’ within Google+. It allows you to follow someone and see their public posts without them returning the favour.
  • Currently in testing is a ‘smart list’ feature, that groups your friends into categories, much like the ‘circles’ in Google+. It’s not clear how they are going to make this work, but it will enable you to see all posts within a certain category like ‘work’ or ‘school friends’.
  • A separate feed in the top right of the homepage has been added that lists all comments, pics, status updates and other information from all of your friends, and constantly ticks over with new information, much like the stream on Twitter.

We have also been given a glimpse of future layout changes by Digg founder Kevin Rose, who seems to have pre-release access to the new profile. He was kind enough to post a picture of it on his page, so this is what the future profile will look like:

With all updates like this there is a certain backlash, but it usually dies down after a week or two as people settle in to the changes. However, with the privacy issues they faced earlier in the year where your details were displayed to others automatically, combined with other problems and these new changes, could it signal a move away from Facebook?

When the last round of changes was made several years back, there was little alternative for users who didn’t like them. Myspace was on the way out and other networks had so few members as not to be worth it, but Google+ certainly represents a good alternative. Despite the best efforts of the Facebook team to compete with Google+, you have to ask, will the changes ultimately end up pushing more people towards it?


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