Facebook seems a bit neurotic about the news feed. Last March they made it a Twitter-like stream of everything by default. Then in October they switched back to using an algorithm to determine what stuff you see from friends. Now the company is asking users what they think.
In a survey Facebook is asking some users to tell them how they “feel” about the news feed. One question ask “How have the following affected how you feel about your Facebook experience?” Users are asked to respond to “trouble keeping up with all the posts in my News Feed” with “made me feel a lot worse” to “made me feel a lot better.”
Normally a survey would just ask if people like something or not. But Facebook seems concerned with causing stress and guilt to users by throwing too much information at them. I guess some users, feeling overwhelmed, may just give up on the news feed altogether (this is common with Google Reader, where people fall so far behind that they just give up).
Facebook is trying to solve a big problem – personalized news – that hasn’t really been solved by anyone yet. Asking users what they think isn’t likely to give them the answers they want.
A lot of the questions also deal with privacy and user confusion over what information about them gets published for others to see. Too many privacy options combined with frequent changes to how Facebook deals with privacy is clearly leaving users confused and frustrated.
The pure Twitter approach is at least understandable – you see everything from everyone you follow, and if there’s too much info you just stop following people. And accounts are either public or private. Simple and easy to understand. Facebook should just do the simple thing that works. In my opinon.
Here’s the survey: