A recent change in the format of a popular student Web site has caused national stir, with students deeming the site too ""stalker-friendly,"" and revisions are expected to take effect today, the site's creator said yesterday.
Facebook.com, a profile site aimed at college and high school students, introduced a sidebar called ""News Feed"" that gives users the ability to view any comments, groups or photos their friends have commented on or appeared in, a feature that bothers hundreds of thousands of student users.
Michael Gordon, a nutritional sciences freshman, said the changed Facebook is an invasion of privacy.
""(Facebook) shouldn't be about showing what you tell other people,"" Gordon said. ""You shouldn't be forced to have a Web log of your activities on your own page.""
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, said privacy remains central to the site, but he acknowledged the company misstepped and ""failed to communicate to our users actively what it actually meant for them,"" according to The Associated Press.
Zuckerberg said Facebook is working on giving users additional privacy options.
The safeguards, expected today, will let users block entire categories from feeds, such as changes to the groups they belong to, while still allowing people to observe such changes by visiting the profile page, according to The Associated Press. Previously, users had to remove items one at a time from their personal feeds.
Since Facebook's change Tuesday, student-created groups have sprung up, such as ""Facebook just got sketch,"" ""I MISS THE OLD FACEBOOK"" and ""THIS NEW FACEBOOK SET-UP SUCKS!!!"" which have more than 3,000 members. The group ""Students against Facebook News Feed (Official Petition to Facebook),"" has nearly 650,000 members, with others following suit.
Stephanie White, a marketing sophomore who is a member of the official petition group, said the news feed makes the site looked cluttered and is ""a little creepy.""
Gordon said while the site creators were trying to be helpful, they interfered with the ultimate goal of Facebook: friendship.
""If my ex-girlfriend went on my Facebook and saw I was talking to a bunch of girls, she could be nosy and start looking at their profiles and see everything they do,"" Gordon said. ""It's not anyone else's business.""
Another feature of the news feed is a relationship tracker, which shows all users when their friends have begun, ended or escalated their relationship with a significant other.
I already thought Facebook was creepy, but this brings it to a whole new level of stalker
- Kevin Mack,
""I don't think that information should leave the pages of the couples involved,"" said Kevin Mack, a pre-business freshman who was disappointed in Facebook's makeover.
White said she doesn't believe that it's the sudden change in Facebook that is upsetting everyone, but rather what the changes entail.
""I think they just wanted to make it more cutting edge,"" White said. ""When they added photos last year, everyone loved it. But now they're adding information that's already there. It's over the top.""
Mack said he is more uncomfortable using the new Facebook as a means of staying in touch with friends than before.
""It's too easy to track what people are up to,"" Mack said. ""I already thought Facebook was creepy, but this brings it to a whole new level of stalker friendliness.""