Yesterday Mark Zuckerburg announced a number of interesting upcoming changes to Facebook in his post Improving Your Ability to Share and Connect which are excerpted below
What's New Today
Starting today, we are announcing new profiles for public figures and organizations. Once called Pages, these new profiles will now begin looking and functioning just like user profiles. Just as you connect with friends on Facebook, you can now connect and communicate with celebrities, musicians, politicians and organizations. These folks will now be able to share status updates, videos, photos or anything else they want, in the same way your friends can already. You'll be able to keep up with all of their activity in your News Feed. This means that you can find out that Oprah is reading a book backstage before a show, CNN posted a breaking story or U2 is working on a new song, just as you would see that your friend uploaded new photos from her trip to Europe.
We're also going to make some changes to the home page. The new home page will let you see everything that's shared by your friends and connections as it happens. It will also provide you more control by letting you choose exactly who you see among the people and things you are connected to. You can decide you no longer want to get updates from your old friend from high school who you rarely talk to, or you can filter the stream to only see updates about your family members. And now, if you want, you can read what President Obama is saying on the same page as your best friend. You can find out what it is your mother, your high school classmate or President Obama are doing, thinking and sharing right now just by logging into Facebook.
We'll begin rolling out the new home page next week, so please check out our home page tour to see the new design and let us know what you think about it. This is an exciting move for us and we have more coming, so keep an eye on the blog for more updates about upcoming products.
One thing you can say about Facebook, is that they are quick to adopt new features from hot startups once its been shown that those features have legs. Most recently, it has borrowed ideas such as the ability to post inline comments or indicate you like an item in our news feed from FriendFeed and with yesterday's announcement it looks like the company agrees that Assymetrical follow is a core Web 2.0 pattern as popularized by Twitter.
Facebook initially decided to segregate celebrities and brands from regular users with their Pages feature. Given the success that MySpace has had both from a user experience and monetization perspective from integrating brands into their social graph and treating them equally as users, I'm surprised that it took Facebook this long and that when they did it seemed this was more inspired by Twitter's success than MySpace's.
I expect this to significantly change the dynamic of Facebook especially since many people have already indicated they are fans of various brands on the site. So there are many people who will be exposed to this functionality right off the bat. What will happen when the site I used to visit to see what's going on with members of my extended family, former coworkers and high school friends becomes just as likely to be filled with marketing messages from Windows Mobile and 50 Cent because I've indicated interest in these brands?
Already, my news feed now has stuff like
which repeats a lot of the mistakes of the FriendFeed user interface such as too much space being dedicated to content I may be marginally interested in and putting people I have no interest in right in my face.
Twitter doesn't have these problems due to their core design being different. People only get 140 characters to make their point so I get more content on the page instead of half the screen being dedicated to a single update. Also I don't see @replies from people I'm not following so "me too" comments in response to content from popular users doesn't clutter my experience unless it comes from mutual friends and even then I can disable that feature.
As Facebook continues to grow, the legacy of their existing features will make it harder and harder for them to adapt to new trends. As someone who works on bringing new social features to decade old applications with pre-existing usage patterns and hundreds of millions of users as part of his day job, I know first hand how difficult things are going to get for them.
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