Believe it or not, I am angry enough right now that I felt tempted not to use asterisks in this post's title. The simple fact is that last night something happened that not only reduces my enjoyment of Facebook, but makes the site very nearly useless. Worse yet, the problem has not yet been corrected. To say I am unhappy with a site with which I have often been unhappy is an understatement.
Before you can understand why I am angry, I suppose I should explain a bit about how Facebook works. The home page of Facebook consists of a news feed, basically a feed of posts from one's friends. One can use various filters on his or her news feed to view certain posts. The basic news feed consists pretty much of what Facebook believes to be the most popular posts, but one can filter the news feed so one sees the most recent posts from newest to oldest or, if one has lists of various friends set up, one can filter the news feed so he or she sees posts from certain friends. Last night my Most Recent filter and every other filter disappeared from my news feed. Worse yet, my news feed is, from my perspective, a chaotic mess. The posts are not in any sort of chronological order. Worse yet, I might see posts from people with whom I rarely associate, but not those from people with whom I associate regularly. Concluding it was a bug, I messaged Facebook immediately.
Anyhow, I did a bit of research today and it seems that the problem of my missing news feed filters could be related to a new feature which, for whatever reason, Facebook has chosen to test on me. The feature is called "Happening Now" and, in theory, is supposed to work like a Twitter feed in updating posts by the minute. It rests in the upper right hand corner of the page, where once there were adverts. Now the problem with "Happening Now" is that it is entirely unnecessary. The Most Recent filter on the news feed does the exact same thing, with the advantage of using the whole page and thus being easier to see. Worse yet, the "Now Happening" feature doesn't work properly--it does not show posts in chronological order as Twitter does. Whether it was a glitch in installing the "Happening Now" feature on my page that robbed me of my news feed filters or the news feed filters were meant to be removed does not matter. It was an uneven trade. The "Happening Now" feature is useless to me. My news feed filters were what I relied upon to make sense of the many posts from my friends on Facebook.
In the below screen shots you can see what I mean. Below is my Facebook homepage with my news feed as it was and should still be. You'll notice filtered through my Close Friends list (the personal details are blurred for privacy reasons). You'll notice that across from the words news feed are the words Top News and Close Friends (it says that because the news feed is being filtered through my "Close Friends" list). This is where the filters are. I could click on Close Friends and a drop down menu would appear, which could take me to Most Recent (posts from all my friends) to yet other filters. The pictures of people (blurred though they are) are the friends on my "Close Friends" list and it is only their posts who would show in my news feed with that filter on.
Below is a screenshot of my home page as it is now. You will notice that where on the other screenshot it said "Close Friends," meaning the filter for the "Close Friends" list was on, there is absolutely nothing. Not Most Recent. Not Pages or Games. Nothing. That's right, there are no filters at all. If I had not had to blur the posts for privacy reasons, you could also see they are not in chronological order.
Sadly, the problem has not been corrected well over twenty four hours later. Worse yet, I fear it will not be given the concern Facebook shows for its users. Whether this is a glitch which has made my news feed filters disappear or whether Facebook intends to do away with the news feed filters, my Facebook account has been rendered almost useless in that I cannot sort through the posts with any inefficiency. The fact is that most Facebook users have the need to filter the posts on their news feed. Only those with very few friends (satm under 100) would not have to. I have around 450 friends on Facebook and I know others who have far, far more. If Facebook intends to replace the filters with this useless "Happening Now" feature (a possibility given their past decisions--can we say "PUT THE STATUS BACK AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE!!!!"), then I rather suspect that a year from now we will be speaking of Facebook the same way we do MySpace now. Quite simply, I believe this time Facebook has really f***ed up.