Feeds

Facebook mods controversial 'stalker-friendly' feature

About face

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

User protests have forced social network site Facebook to radically re-design its controversial News Feed feature, which critics argue is a Godsend for stalkers.

As originally launched earlier this week, News Feed appears automatically on every user's home page, updating members about recent Facebook activities by that person's friends. For example, Facebook would automatically notify users whenever a photo is posted by friends or they split up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The feature is designed to make it easier for friends to keep up to date with each other. But many users are unhappy that the feature was pushed upon them. At the heart of the controversy was the idea that casual acquaintances, maintained through the Facebook network, would find out about changes to user's circumstances indiscriminately.

Facebook has expanded beyond its college student base to rack up 9.5m members, mainly in the US, leaving it second behind only MySpace in the social network site market. More than 500,000 of these users signed an online petition calling on Facebook to scrap News Feed. Faceback has responded to this welter of criticism by giving users far more control over the information they share, something it now admits it ought to have done in the first place.

Mea culpa

"We really messed this one up. When we launched News Feed and Mini-Feed we were trying to provide you with a stream of information about your social world. Instead, we did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them," site founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a message responding to the protests.

Zuckerberg admits that the new features undermined Facebook's goal of creating an environment where people could share whatever information they wanted, under privacy settings designed to help people choose who they wanted to share information with.

"Somehow we missed this point with [News] Feed and we didn’t build in the proper privacy controls right away. This was a big mistake on our part, and I’m sorry for it," he writes.

Zuckerberg has pledged to build better privacy control into News Feed as a concession to critics. A new privacy page will allow users to choose which types of stories go into their friends' News Feeds as well as the type of actions Facebook will never let any other person know about.

Whether these actions go far enough to stem the tide of criticism against Facebook isn't immediately clear. Critics were calling for News Feed to be scrapped entirely and may well push Facebook further in that direction before the criticism dies down. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.