[Air-l] Facebook protests

Nicole Ellison nellison at msu.edu
Thu Sep 7 07:38:39 PDT 2006

Hi Nancy, 
I'm not sure this qualifies as "more thought out" but I think you've on to
something. Yesterday my colleague Cliff Lampe and I spoke with a reporter
from the Wall Street Journal
_promo_left) and this was a slant to the story they wrote: the fact that
facebook users were upset not only about the feature itself, but also the
fact that it seemed to be implemented without any feedback from users. Which
seems to be the case, as this quote from the article suggests: "Ms. Deitch
said Facebook's feedback from users comes in the form of emails to its
customer-service email address, which the company's product-development team
reviews weekly. But the company typically doesn't solicit feedback by
showing features to users before launching them."
Because these social network sites are built on user-supplied content, users
feel more ownership over the site as a whole (compared to, say, a news
portal or e-commerce site). It may be that the reaction to this change might
prompt deeper, better user research on the part of these sites (which I
agree is needed).
Following up on the earlier conversation: My sense from speaking with
students is that they dislike the feature not because it is pulling already
available information, but because it is displaying profile changes that
otherwise would be hard to identify. If I have 150 friends on the site, I
won't typically notice when someone de-friends me. But this feature puts
this info in my face, so to speak.  As the old saying goes: there are some
things better left unsaid. This feature is articulating information we don't
necessarily want to hear. 

  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Nicole Ellison, PhD
Dept. of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media
Michigan State University
nellison at msu.edu

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