Why We Hate it When Facebook Changes

facebook changesAs any avid user of social media knows, changes to the interface of popular social media platforms are inevitably met with outrage in the form of angry status updates, tweets, and blog posts.

Perhaps the largest offender of this crime against social media humanity is Facebook, the largest social media network. Facebook seems to be constantly changing in drastic ways, prompting widespread user dissatisfaction. However, Facebook remains the most widely used social media website. This begs the question: If we continue to use Facebook despite change after change, why the outrage?

A History of Facebook Anger

Buzzfeed created a useful timeline of Facebook change and backlash, of course beginning with the advent of the Timeline profile in late 2011-early 2012. This infographic shows that since its birth in 2004, nearly every major change to the format of Facebook has caused a negative reaction.

2006: Facebook introduces the Newsfeed. Users respond with the call for “A Day Without Facebook” boycott.

2008: The profile page becomes tabbed, and Facebook adds the chat function. The fifth most popular Facebook group is one protesting the redesign, and 400,000 users sign the “Petition Against the New Facebook.”

2009: Facebook again changes page layout, with a mere 6% approval rating. 1.7 million users sign the “Petition Against the New Facebook.”

2010: Protest erupts on Twitter when the font size of the Newsfeed changes.

2011: Chat is redesigned; users call it ugly and turn to Twitter.

2012: Timeline is implemented with a whopping 79% of users wishing they could opt-out.

So Really, Why Do We Hate It?

Other reports on Facebook changes have shown that 86% of users react negatively. In fact, the only group reported to have a majority in support of Facebook changes was IT workers. Despite the outcry, Facebook still managed to reach a record 1 billion users in October of 2012. Clearly the changes made to Facebook are not that terrible, so why do users respond poorly to change?

ZDNet reports two possible reasons: the re-learning process and psychological insecurity. Studies find that initial changes lead to a re-learning process, which brings up images of elementary and high school. While Generation Y users tend to be adaptable to change and view it as exciting, Generation X users have a more difficult time with the re-learning process, which can cause them to regress to negative feelings about their experiences in school.

Studies also find that people feel insecure when it comes to technology. Psychologically, changes to technology increase those feelings of insecurity. But not to fear, Facebook users. Change is inevitable, and when the next change to Facebook causes you to feel angry and hurt, remember that this too shall pass.

What reactions have you seen to social media changes? Does your business Page roll with the punches?

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Elizabeth K

Elizabeth Kent is a recent graduate with an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Brandeis University. She earned her B.A. from Smith College with a major in the Study of Women and Gender and a minor in Jewish Studies. Elizabeth recently relocated from the Boston area back to Western Massachusetts, where she spends her free time volunteering with a local non-profit organization. Elizabeth has worked as a writing tutor, archival intern, research assistant, and retail associate. Her interests include studying pop culture, kittens, and making meals with as little cooking as possible.

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