The architects of a social networking Web site wildly popular with college students aren’t about to undo recent changes that have brought the site under fire.
The creators of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Hughes, defended the remodeling of the Web site during a mediated online chat room press conference Thursday, claiming it is up to the user to decide what their peers see.
Facebook, which boasts 9.5 million users, according to the creators, received harsh feedback after introducing “News Feed,” a feature that allows users to see what their friends recently updated on their profiles.
Many students lament the stalker-like feel of the new site.
“I hate it,” said Christie Allen, a sophomore speech communication major. “It’s ridiculous, intrusive and Facebook was already creepy enough.”
In an effort to quiet the uproar and introduce new ideas, Zuckerberg and Hughes participated in the Web chat.
Hughes said there has actually been an increase in the amount of usage since the debut of News Feed and Zuckerberg still believes the new facet is something that should stick around.
“It makes Facebook a lot more efficient for seeing what’s going on around you,” he said.
While admitting some mistakes, Zuckerberg said new privacy controls leave it up to the user to decide what is seen.
“We messed (introducing News Feed) up,” Zuckerberg said. “We definitely should have given more granular controls before launching everything.”
Hughes also believes they could have introduced the new feature better.
“We should have done a better job talking to our users about what these features were when we launched them,” Hughes said.
Despite the fact that News Feed brought bad press to Facebook for the first time, Zuckerberg said he doesn’t care how the Web site is perceived.
“What matters is how responsive we are being to the people who matter to us the most: Our users,” he said.
The other hot topic during the conference was Facebook’s plan to expand its network by allowing users who aren’t in a university.
Zuckerberg and Hughes don’t believe this would make their Web site the same as another networking Web site, Myspace.
“(Myspace) seems to be trying to be a media portal where you connect with a lot of people you don’t know,” Hughes said. “We’re aiming to be a social utility where you rebuild the real-life social networks that you already have.”
Allen wasn’t happy when she found out non-students might be entering the Facebook network.
“I like Facebook better because it’s not like Myspace,” she said. “I like the fact that it’s only students.”
The Facebook creators wouldn’t reveal what else was in the works for the Web site, but before the next change, Zuckerberg said he would use this experience to help the transition.
“The one thing I learned is that we need to do a better job informing our users of what we’re going to be doing on the site.”
Staff writer Jack Genadek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.