As Facebook continues to roll out the full version of its new user profiles, it’s becoming clear that their primary goal isn’t, as they said in May, to simply create a cleaner user experience and allow developers to have more meaningful engagement points with users. It’s more about highlighting new content relevant to the user and fostering conversations about that content. And the result is that the Facebook home page looks an awful lot like the exponentially smaller activity stream aggregation service called Friendfeed.
The new site will likely launch publicly on Monday. Until then, anyone can log in at www.new.facebook.com to see the new profile. The biggest visual change people will see on the home page – the combination of status updates, wall posts and news feed items into a single content stream. On the profile page status updates and other mini-feed items are also combined, and users are shown a big text box at the top encouraging them to update their status. For more details on the updates, see Inside Facebook and All Facebook.
This is just the beginning of the news for Facebook this week as they prepare for their second developer conference on Wednesday. The company is clearly looking to fine tune the Facebook experience to spur growth, particularly in the U.S. and other mature markets where they still trail MySpace.
Many of the changes seem designed to put the year-old application platform on the backburner more than anything. Facebook has had to fight an ongoing privacy, spam and competitive battle with its more aggressive third party developers, using algorithmic and policy tools.
But it’s also clear that they like what they see at Friendfeed, which expertly combined the idea of an activity stream that was first popularized by Facebook with the microblogging trend introduced by Twitter. Users constantly add content that their friends read and comment on, which creates yet new content. The virtuous page-view creating cycle continues.
Facebook still silos most of this information, although they are more than happy to have users bring in third party data to the Facebook feed. This week facebook will also launch their Facebook Connect product, which is designed to let users get that data back out of Facebook.