Protest about Facebook design changes like it’s 2006

I suspect you won’t be able to move on the internet shortly for people in a blind panic that Facebook is making changes to the news feed…

Facebook is making some design changes. There are howls of outrage, and vows to quit the service. It was ever thus. My favourite bit of editing the Guardian’s book about Facebook — “Facebook: The rise and rise of a social media giant” — was discovering this 2006 article by Mark Sweney about the furore that had greeted the original introduction of the news feed.

“The founder of social networking website Facebook has admitted he ‘messed up’ by launching a service that reveals users’ online activities to other members. Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg faced revolt from hundreds of thousands of users who labelled the service ‘spooky and stalker-esque’.”

It is almost impossible to imagine Facebook now without some kind of news feed, but at the time it was a massive shift in functionality. Zuckerberg’s open letter of apology about the way it was introduced from 2006 is still available to read online.

Savefacebook.com from 2006

The Wayback Machine preserves SaveFacebook.com from 2006

A lot of the other signs of protest at the changes have gone into the web’s memory hole. In 2006 a group set up the website savefacebook.com campaigning to get the news feed removed from Facebook. According to this WebMonkey piece, one of the people behind it, Kyoshi Martinez, summarised the objections in a blog post, but this has also bitten the electronic dust. You can find the original Facebook group petitioning against news feed though — “Students against Facebook News Feed (Official Petition to Facebook)” — although it has been swamped with spam, and the last proper message is about complaints of a subsequent Facebook redesign in 2008.

After the 2006 protest campaign, Tracy Samantha Schmidt in Time magazine asked: “Was the Facebook revolt the sign of growing revolutionary activism among the Internet generation?”

I’d guess probably not. Just the first skirmish in the seemingly endless war on Facebook re-designs.

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