Bring Back Old Facebook

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 6:54 PM | Filed under

Whenever Facebook makes a major update, usually to the layout, I notice many people joining "Bring Back the Old Facebook" groups on Facebook. I feel that these people's protests are usually a bit hasty, and that they haven't given the new layouts a good chance. Some of Facebook's changes over the years have been good. I'm a fan of the combination of the Wall and Mini-Feed on everybody's profiles, because everything is tied together more chronologically. (What you did and what people wrote to you used to be in separate lists on your profile.)

But I've been a user on Facebook for nearly four years, and I have had enough time to think about the various changes that have been made to the site. And in some ways, I want them to bring back the old Facebook.

Now, it seems much more difficult to find people on Facebook. There used to be a great feature where you could list your classes, and then see who else was also taking those classes. It was a great way to find classmates if you needed to discuss something for a class. Or if you didn't know your friend's name, you could just browse through your classmates. Facebook removed this feature when they introduced applications. They said that somebody would certainly create an app for it, but without a default standard, it's no good. Recently, I was trying to find one of my classmates on Facebook, but I wasn't sure how to spell his last name. I guessed a half dozen times before I finally got it right.

Facebook has also removed most of the advanced search options. You can search for somebody by name, and narrow it down by school or location, but that's about it. I'm pretty certain you used to be able to narrow search results down by age, religion, relationship status, etc. Now, you can't filter results like this. It makes it harder to find the sort of people you might be looking for. That's not a good thing for the most popular social networking site.

In your profile, you used to be able to click on something in your favorites lists—such as a movie title. Then, Facebook would take you to the search results for that movie, and it would show all your friends who also listed that movie. Then, it would show other people in your network, too. It was fun to see who liked the same shows, movies, and books as I did. (Now, instead, it's more likely to take you to search results listing fan pages for the movie or book, made by random users.) Facebook even had a sort of game on the site about favorites. It was called the Friend Game, and it would present you with somebody's favorite movie, song, quotation, or something else, and you had to guess whose favorite it was. That was a fun game; it's too bad it's gone now.

I'm sure I'm not the only one to complain about this last point: There is too much clutter on Facebook now. Ever since the introduction of applications and fan pages, it seems that some certain percentage of my friends seems determined to join every application, become a fan of every possible silly thing, and fill my News Feed with irrelevant stories. It's a neat idea that someone playing a zoo game could ask their friends to feed it while they're away from the computer for a few days, but I just don't care about some stupid digital baby tiger. There used to be the option in the News Feed to have certain types of stories appear less frequently—like I could have pictures of my friends appear less often—but there is no option like this anymore.

Over time, Facebook seems to have become a bit easier to use, and more people are on it than ever. It's just a shame that Facebook has removed such great social networking features.