Talking tech since 2003

Facebook recently introduced the new and improved “Like” feature which is replacing the “Become a Fan” option that people came to know and love.  These changes are affecting both individual profiles, as well as fan pages.  Below is Facebook’s description of the changes;

There’s a new type of Page for general topics and all kinds of “unofficial” but important things. Now you can see what people are saying about stuff that matters to you – whether that’s cooking or a political movement or even your pets.

Your profile is now organized into categories and will link directly to Official and Community Pages about your interests. Now you can express yourself more fully on your profile, and your friends can learn more about you by simply clicking on your interests.

Firstly, if you haven’t viewed your own profile since the change, doing so will bring you to a page offering to link your listed activities, favorite movies, favorite music, etc to pages.  For example, in my Facebook profile, I listed that I was a fan of the movie “16 Blocks”.  With the change, Facebook suggested that I link the fan-page for the film to my profile.  Likewise, Facebook suggested that I link my musical interests, geographical information, and activities to my profile as well.

Additionally, Facebook seems to have eliminated the “fanning” concept of pages (“XYZ has become a fan of…”), and seems to have transitioned more to the “like” concept, as part of what they are calling “Community Pages”.

I feel that Facebook’s transition over is both positive and negative.  This being, as Facebook has grown more and more popular, fan pages have began to flood the site.  For example, despite Facebook profiles having fields for favorite films and bands, producers, record labels, and companies have been creating “fan pages” as well.  In my mind, and in the minds of many other Facebook users, this has created a sense of duplicate instances.  Because of this, I feel that the profile linking is a great change in the sense that it makes what used to be separate features of Facebook (listing something in a profile, and the use of fan pages), and combined them into one much more concise and unified feature.  Ultimately, I feel that this change will make it easier to view information, as things will be more centralized and easier to navigate.

However, I am not very fond of Facebook’s changing of the “fan” terminology to the “like” terminology.  Socially, many people perceive the word “like” to relate to someones physical or emotion liking of another person.  Because of this, when someone “likes” the fan page for a person (e.g. a politician, industry leader, etc.), the definition of “like” has the potential to be brought into play.  This being said, I feel that the contexts of the words have become a bit confused, and that this confusion is fueled by the current implementation of “liking” statuses and photos.

All in all, I think the changes are a great step forward for Facebook.  One of the reasons that I feel MySpace began to become unpopular was because of the site’s general lack of informational organization; something that Facebook has had a cutting edge in since the beginning, and is obviously showing improvements and focusing on.  I am especially impressed with the integration of Wikipedia information into Facebook pages, as it further simplifies a users experience, ease of navigation and access to information.  While I would prefer Facebook revert back to the “fan” terminology as apposed to the “like” terminology, it’s not something that would cause me to stop using Facebook, and is something that I doubt the vast majority of users will care deeply about.

What are your thoughts about Facebook’s changes?  Are they good?  Bad?  Could you care less?  Share your opinion and let us know in the comments.

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