Facebook certainly aren’t afraid to rock the boat when it comes to updating their services. The company has come under fire a few times in the past couple of years after updating the user interface with little warning. The now-default ‘Time-line’ interface sparked user outcry – mostly through Facebook itself, ironically – with hundreds of thousands of Facebook users complaining that the new UI was ugly, functioned poorly or introduced features that they didn’t feel should be available by default.
Another raft of changes have been put in place by Facebook recently – but whether or not this latest batch is positively received has yet to be seen. If we had to guess, though, our gut feeling would be that the latest updates will be no more favourably-received than the last batch. We’ve summarised the updates below, so you can see exactly what has changed and how this is likely to affect your Facebook experience, as a personal or a business user.
The main change to be implemented lately by Facebook has been subject to considerable criticism – and has been since its unannounced release. Users that opt to display their e-mail addresses on their profiles, allowing friends and family members to send messages to the user outside of Facebook, were outraged to find that Facebook had without warning removed their e-mail addresses from their profiles.
In their place, Facebook announced that each user would now have their own Facebook-oriented e-mail address – firstname.lastname@example.org, for example – which would be displayed on a user’s profile instead. E-mails directed to these new facbook.com addresses are delivered directly to a user’s Facebook messaging inbox. This has essentially removed the possibility of corresponding with your Facebook contacts outside Facebook, unless you already know their external e-mail addresses. Users can opt to remove their @facebook.com e-mail address from their profile and list their original address instead, but this is made far from clear in Facebook’s brief explanation to users of the implications of this latest update.
Quite apart from user outcry over these changes being put in place with no prior warning and no opt-out measures, the new Facebook e-mail addresses have also come under fire amid speculation that the feature is too similar to Google’s heavily-criticised Buzz service.
Removal of Facebook Credits Currency
One other update that has been announced (though not yet implemented) is the removal of the Facebook ‘Credits’ currency. Credits were originally implemented as a three-year experiment, testing the feasibility of users exchanging real-world currency for greater access to social games and so on.
Although this practice is set to continue, the Credits themselves will be phased out by the end of the year – instead, users’ Facebook accounts will most likely have a registered payment card, which will be attached to a user’s profile and charged directly when a paid service is purchased or used. This is essentially the model used by iTunes and similar online services, and according to Techcrunch, could be just the first step in Facebook’s foray into online payment.
With so many users happily entrusting their card details to Facebook by purchasing apps through Facebook’s own App store, it’s possible that Facebook might be heading for a future as a competitor to PayPal. If users are already happy for Facebook to handle a transaction with their payment cards, it would only be a short jump for Facebook to start offering users the ability to pay on e-commerce sites through their Facebook accounts.
As Facebook continue to implement updates left, right and centre, it seems that only time will tell whether or not the changes will improve Facebook’s services to users, or whether ongoing user frustration will push more users to jump ship.