The only thing constant is (Facebook) change.

It seems likes these days the only thing constant about our favorite social networking tool is confusion when it comes to navigating. Once you finally figure out where your profile and news feed are, it moves! We feel your pain. And we’re here to outline a few of these new changes and what they mean for your online privacy.

We talked to Great Day Houston this morning about the recent changes. View the video here, or read our recap below.


The New Subscribe Button

Before this change, you could only see information from the people you were friends with, and limited info from the people you weren’t friends with. With the new Subscribe Button, located at the top right-hand corner of a profile, you can now 1.) “subscribe” to the updates of people  you are NOT friends with, and 2.)  cater the types of updates you see from those you ARE friends with. Confused? Let’s break it down:

If you ARE friends with someone, you can now ADD or REMOVE information from your news feed such as:

  • Life Events (Wedding, Move, School, Job)
  • Status Updates
  • Photos + Videos
  • Games
  • Comments + Likes
So no longer do you have to have Farmville or Words With Friends clog your stream.  You can now block a certain friend’s game activity, or a certain cousin’s constant photo updates of every second of her newborns first week. The friend is not notified of this change, and you can always change it back.
If you are NOT friends with someone, you can now “subscribe” to their PUBLIC updates, and THEY can subscribe to YOURS. We know, right? Scary. But, what’s a public update? Good question.
A public update occurs in one of 2 ways:
  • You can set ALL your updates to default to public in the Privacy Settings, OR
  • Upon sending an update, you have the option to make it public (even if your default is “Friends Only”)

By default, your updates are “Friends Only.” So you’d either have to go into your settings and make ALL of your updates Public, OR each time you make a post, you have the option of making it public.

Smart Lists

Lists are nothing new to Facebook. They debuted in 2007 and a miniscule amount of people used them. Who wants to go through 500 friends and categorize them to lists? Speculatively in reaction to Google’s social network that debuted last month Google+, Facebook has made it easier to create these lists they call Smart Lists.

Smart lists have 4 categories:

  • City
  • School
  • Work
  • Family
Your Smart Lists are created for you. Go to your Home screen (or News Feed) and you can view them on the left hand side. Clicking on one of these lists brings up updates from only those in that list.
Facebook also suggests people for 2 more lists: Close Friends and Acquaintances, in an effort to help you manage updates going to the people you want it to. As always, you can create any lists that you want, and as you share your post, you can choose which lists see that post. (See graphic). Only want close friends to see a personal update? Choose “Close Friends” from the drop down when you make a post.

Top News

Top news is also a change that isn’t necessarily new. A few years back, Facebook introduced Top News, stories that are non-chronological that appear at the top of your news feed. It’s basically Facebook guessing at what posts would be of interest and relevant to you. What IS new is the little blue triangle that appears to indicate that it is a Top Story, AND you can now teach Facebook what to put here. (See Graphic). It also allows you to in-line unsubscribe from certain updates, and control what level of information you recieve: All Updates, Most Updates, or Only Important.


A few more changes

You’ll also notice Bigger Photos in your stream and on your wall, a welcomed change, in our opinion, from the tiny photos updates in previous versions.

Has the News Ticker on the Home page caused you to have seizures yet? An ongoing running account of ALL your friends’ activities, and even some you are not friends with, now shows up on your Home page. DO NOT stare directly at the News Ticker. Vertigo may ensue.

If you’ve been hearing about the new Timeline, you probably waste too much time on the internet. We kid. But really. Timeline is coming to Facebook in the next few weeks, and will attempt to better account for your entire life on Facebook since joining. Think: a baby book for EVERY year of your life. Photos, Status updates, Life Changes, will all now be viewable by viewing a “snapshot in time” the timeline. Let’s see, what were we doing 1 year ago today? Does anyone care? Do we care? You better, because it’s coming!


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What do you think?