The advent of the Facebook News Feed

In 2006, Facebook decided to add a News Feed to its service. Most MIT students can’t remember a time before the News Feed existed, but danah boyd (author of It’s Complicated, which we just read!) wrote an article at the time that was considered very on point. Check it out!*

Facebook says that the News Feed is here to say. This makes me sad. I understand why they want to provide it, i understand what users are tempted by it. But i also think that it is unhealthy, socially disruptive, and far worse for the users than the lurking employers ready to strike down upon thee with great vengeance for the mere presence of a red plastic cup.

I also think that it will be gamed. Given a new channel for identity performance, people will begin engaging in a new form of impression management. They already write wall posts to be seen – it will be taken to a new level. Their public displays of connection will take on new strength as they seek to make a performance out of the friending act. They will remove friendship statuses in the most dramatic fashion possible, announcing as far as possible about the evilness of the other person. Facebook News Feeds could make LJ drama look like child’s play.

It’s a pretty short – and very interesting – read that made me reflect a bit on what “normal” social media is today. It turns out that even 8 years ago, there was an rather different norm.

*Chris Peterson and Professor Schiappa who had us read this as part of CMS.400 last semester (along with a chapter of It’s Complicated), and talking about the book reminded me of this.


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