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What Do Facebook's Changes Mean to You?

We explain the main adjustments to the popular social network.

Newsfeed and Ticker

Another update, which is probably already live on your account, is a change from the familiar Newsfeed to a two-pronged approach. With the new system, the main Newsfeed only show posts that Facebook thinks are important. If you disagree with Facebook's estimation, you can click on a box in the corner and let the system know you disagree — theoretically, it will learn your preferences over time. Those who don't log on to Facebook frequently will really benefit from this Newsfeed arrangement, since your friends' most significant posts since your last visit are boosted to the top of the list. Under the old system, they might be buried several pages down.

And what happens to everything the system doesn't feature in the Newsfeed? It goes into a separate Ticker along the right side of the page, which displays every update of any kind from all your friends as they occur. If you see something interesting in the Ticker, hold your cursor over the item and it will expand into a full-size story. It's not a bad system, though I did find one problem when dealing with the Ticker: the column is narrow, and it's tough clicking on the little slider to scroll down and see older postings. The simple solution is to use a mouse with a scroll wheel. That way, instead of trying to click on a skinny little slice of screen, you just leave your cursor anywhere over the column and scroll up and down by spinning the wheel.

PROS: The most relevant recent news is prominently displayed.

CONS: The narrow Ticker column can be hard to navigate.

New Applications

So we have your Facebook life organized into a personal Timeline, a Newsfeed with top stories and a Ticker with everything that's going on. We're also getting a new way to add information to those locations, and that's where you want to be vigilant. Facebook has given developers the tools to create applications that not only track your online activity, but display it in your Timeline, Newsfeed and Ticker. A prime example is the new Spotify app, which lets you listen to music and lists the songs you've chosen in the Ticker for all your friends to see. Those who've also signed up for Spotify can click on the item and start listening along with you, which is kind of intriguing. And the app can also provide some interesting overview information to help you discover new music. For example, it can tell you that six of your friends listened to a new Sheryl Crow album this week.


Next: More music sharing and security. >>

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