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A View from Brad King

Social Networking Site Faces User Revolt over New Service

Facebook.com, a social networking site for college students, has unveiled a new syndication product–and upset its user base.

  • September 8, 2006

Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook are designed to bring people together. You can make new friends, track down old friends, and post news and information on your life. That’s the big draw.

Or so it would seem.

The last few weeks have been tough for the Facebook developers, who released a series of syndication tools that allow people to sign up for “News Feed,” whereby people can receive automatic updates whenever someone adds to their page. It’s a tool one would think the social networking community would accept with open arms.

Not so much. Just two days after the feed were released, according to this Reuters article, life for Facebook developers got complicated.

By late on Wednesday, more than 500,000 of Facebook’s 9.5 million members had signed an online petition calling for the company to back off a feature called “News Feed” that instantly notifies members when friends update their own sites.

And these weren’t mild protests. Users were genuinely outraged that it was suddenly possible to find out so much information about others on the networking site–despite the fact that others can only find out as much information as the individual posts about themselves on the website.

“News Feed is just too creepy, too stalker-esque, and a feature that has to go,” reads the petition of the newly formed “Students against Facebook News Feed.” 

As of today, Facebook developers were still working on a solution to their growing problem.

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