Facebook has 70 million members, so if the owners change something about it the users don't like, the angry virtual mob that appears outside the window with digital pitchforks and torches is something to behold. Facebook's attempt to share information about user's purchases through a utility they called Beacon didn't go down too well, for instance, and the ensuing outcry included just about everything except calls for a guillotine outside Facebook's office. So Facebook is cautious now, and even though they've announced they're going to dramatically change the appearance of their website in June, they're quick to point out that it's only on a test basis. We'll go slow. Very beta. Nothing written in stone. Opt-in. Please don't shove me in my locker again.
"We're cognizant that change is difficult for users," said Mark Slee, a product manager for Facebook.
The new profile page creates a tab for feeds, including current status or recent activities. It also includes tabs for basic information, such as e-mail address; photos; and applications, the programs created by outside developers such as games and online music players. Users can also design and add their own tabs.
Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook's vice president of product marketing, said the new design reflects the way Facebook users are producing and sharing more information about themselves. They're also increasingly interested in keeping up with their friends' latest activities. The new look also clears some of the clutter that had started to accumulate on some profiles.
"People are telling narratives of their lives and we want to make it easy for them," he said.
That narrative often involves foam-at-the-mouth rage at Facebook, so good luck, guys. Web developers will get a crack at the new interface this week. Regular users can start stockpiling tar and feathers for June delivery.