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10/6/2014
08:06 AM
Kristin Burnham
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Facebook: 10 New Changes That Matter

Over the summer, Facebook introduced a number of privacy settings, algorithm changes, buttons, and more. Here's an overview of all the new features and how they affect you.
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Facebook kicked off the summer of 2014 with a controversy that affected nearly 700,000 users. For one week in early 2012, the social network conducted an experiment to determine whether it could change the emotional state of some users by filtering the posts that showed up in their news feeds. (Spoiler alert: It could.) Many experts called Facebook's actions unethical.

Three months later, Facebook finally apologized in a blog post that addressed the incident and outlined plans for more structured research.

"It's clear now that there are things we should have done differently," wrote Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer. "For example, we should have considered other non-experimental ways to do this research. The research would have also benefited from more extensive review by a wider and more senior group of people. Last, in releasing the study, we failed to communicate clearly why and how we did it."

But in between the uproar over Facebook's emotion experiment and its belated apology was a summer filled with launches, algorithm tweaks, and privacy changes.

Facebook launched a few buttons: a Buy button, which is in beta, and a Save button, which bookmarks content for later, for example. It also dropped the chat feature from its main app; started tracking users' shopping and browsing habits; and cracked down on click-bait, like-gating, and other news feed spam.

Here's a closer look at 10 of this summer's most important Facebook changes and what they mean for you. First up, Messenger:

Facebook makes Messenger mandatory
Facebook's main app ditched its chat feature in July, when the social network began prompting users to download Messenger. The app's confusing permissions, however, caused a firestorm of misconceptions: Users blamed Facebook for intent to eavesdrop on conversations and snoop on text messages. Neither of these were true, of course, but that didn't prevent users from rating Messenger poorly in the app stores.

If you want to send and receive messages on your mobile device, Facebook requires you to download Messenger, which also lets you place phone calls -- including international ones over WiFi -- and send pictures and video. If you choose not to, you can still send and receive messages on the desktop version of Facebook.

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
10/27/2014 | 8:51:49 PM
Re: What are you waiting for?
@saliknaqi -- are you referring to the analytics?
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
10/27/2014 | 9:59:40 AM
Re: Correctly predicting.
There's some truth to that, Bill, although I admit to enjoying the exchanges I have with people who are more than acquaintances and less than good friends. Without Facebook, I wouldn't stay in touch with them because I hate talking on the phone since I spend so much time on the phone for work. By the time the work day's over, the last thing I want to do is chat (or even text) via phone or email. Little exchanges on FB work perfectly. That said, I do self-censor a lot on FB and there are many things I would tell these friends that I won't -- simply because of the platform.
David F. Carr
IW Pick
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
10/6/2014 | 8:53:09 PM
Re: Not so thankful for prioritization
I am with you, Lorna, would like a service that respects me enough to let me contol my own feed
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
10/6/2014 | 8:39:09 PM
What are you waiting for?
What do you want Facebook to launch next? Let's hear your ideas.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
10/6/2014 | 8:37:06 PM
Re: Not so thankful for prioritization
You and 1B other people. I will say that Facebook has done a good job of burying stupid memes people share repeatedly, so that's one thing their algorithm is good for. If those showed up in chronological order, I'd be annoyed.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
10/6/2014 | 8:35:29 PM
Re: Thankful for Saved
This is probably my favorite feature they've launched in a long time. Lots of good content that friends share (and from pages I subscribe to). It's such an easy way to flag a story to read later.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/6/2014 | 11:24:22 AM
Not so thankful for prioritization
Why can't Facebook offer a "don't mess with my feed" option where posts show up from all friends, in strict chronological order based on when they were added (not comments)? Is that so much to ask?
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
10/6/2014 | 11:03:43 AM
Thankful for Saved
Didn't realize Facebook had created a Saved feature -- but am delighted. Previously, I shared certain items with "Me Only," which was a really clunky way of ensuring I'd captured a particular URL. I knew I'd eventually find it on my Facebook page but it could take a while to locate it, especially if I didn't remember much about it! 
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