For someone who doesn't have a Facebook account, I've sure been Facebook-obsessed this week. I've been on the edge of my seat watiting to find out what changes, if any, Facebook's developers would make after many users freaked out
about their new News Feed and Mini-Feed features
. All told, the largest anti-News-Feed group gained more than 700,000 members in about three days, almost 10 percent of Facebook's entire membership, and numbers like that can't be ignored. Today Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a blog post announcing changes
that give users more control over what information their friends will see in the News Feed and Mini-Feed. The blog post is almost comically humble, beginning with, "We really messed this one up." He goes on to say, "Somehow we missed this point with Feed and we didn't build in the proper privacy controls right away. This was a big mistake on our part, and I'm sorry for it. But apologizing isn't enough. I wanted to make sure we did something about it, and quickly. So we have been coding nonstop for two days to get you better privacy controls. This new privacy page will allow you to choose which types of stories go into your Mini-Feed and your friends' News Feeds, and it also lists the type of actions Facebook will never let any other person know about." He also thanks all of the vocal users and points out, somewhat indirectly, that it was the News Feed itself that enabled millions of users to find those anti-News-Feed groups in the first place.
I'm glad that this is the route Facebook took. The Feed is ultimately a very useful tool and really sets the site apart from MySpace by putting the emphasis on the user and not pageviews. This granular control of what information is shown in the Feed probably should have been included from the beginning, but Facebook's experience will serve as a learning tool for it and many web sites to come. Hopefully.