Social media changes get a mixed reaction

There have been a few changes on the major social media sites lately. One that has had a lot of people up in arms and raging against the machine involves the Twitter timeline.

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

You see Twitter traditionally has given people an unfiltered timeline, so that everything you see appears in chronological order and nothing is hidden. It is great for media companies and those that want to keep up with the news.

Twitter recently announced they were going to change this and that they would use an algorithm to determine which tweets to show you. So it would be more like Facebook, which is often criticised for hiding content from people.

Rather than go the whole hog, Twitter have done two things. Firstly the algorithm only affects the first few tweets in your Twitter timeline. Secondly, there is a setting which you can use to turn it on or off. New Twitter users will find this is enabled by default, but existing Twitter users will need to go in and manually enable the new setting.

So everyone is happy.

I mentioned the new Google+ before. When the new G+ was first announced, there was again a lot of backlash from faithful G+ users. It was and still is in beta, which means it is still optional. Additionally (and happily) Google have continued to roll out regular updates (in the form of bug fixes and improvements) and genuinely appear to be listening to feedback. While it hasn’t yet swayed everyone’s opinion in favour of the new design, it is heading in the right direction. If you haven’t tried it yet, it might be time to take a look.

Lastly, Facebook has made a fundamental (if a somewhat small) change. They have a new Like button.

Obviously, I am not just talking about a new look for the old thumbs up icon, although it does look a bit different.

You can still ‘Like’ things as before, but you also now have new options. Embracing emoji (little smiley faces and such like), you can now give a more nuanced reaction to any post on Facebook. The new options are Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry. All you have to do is hover over the new button on desktop, or hold down the button on mobile and the additional options will pop up for you to choose.

This means you can finally react in a way that is appropriate for each post. So no more ‘liking’ posts about road accidents, or your best friend going through a rough patch. Instead you can show that you are angry, or sad or something else. Perhaps Like is the wrong name for the button and we should instead now be calling it the Reaction button?

It seems to be an ailment of modern times (or perhaps it has always been this way) that change is seen as something bad. We hold our favourite social networks so dearly and don’t like our worlds turned upside down. Our reactions are often very vocal as a result. When in truth the changes we hate so much are often beneficial and we soon forget what life was like without them.