New Facebook Mixes More Ads With Content

Dennis Faas's picture

A new Facebook redesign rolls out today, with the changes intended to boost advertising on the site. Many still wonder if it's an attempt to imitate rival service Twitter, having failed in a bid to buy the firm.

Facebook's last major redesign came just eight months ago when it introduced a cleaner look designed to cut down on clutter on pages. Though it drew some complaints at first, most users seemed to get used to it quickly enough. The latest revamp takes that process a step further.

There's a much greater emphasis on the News Feed, the list of news about your Facebook friends including status message, new photographs, and wall discussions. This list now appears much more prominently and details appear more quickly than before. Though the site bills it as being updated in real time, you will still need to refresh the page to see any changes. (Source:

The redesign also makes it much easier to filter news in the feeder. For example, you may have former school colleagues who you want to stay in touch with, but aren't interested in their latest news or thoughts.

What's On Your Mind?

There's also a subtle change to the wording of the status update feature. Instead of asking "What are you doing?", the prompt now reads "What's on your mind?" It's a subtle change, but one that gets across the idea that users should update their status more often and use it as a conversation-starter. This is, of course, remarkably reminiscent of Twitter, a rival site which consists almost solely of 'status updates'.

Because only a limited number of items can appear in the news feed at any one time, Facebook has also added a highlights section below it. This is billed as featuring "photos, notes and other content you probably don't want to miss," and its content appears to be determined by your friends behavior. For example, it will list the events attended by the largest number of your friends, or the pictures which have attracted the most comments.

Facebook Adds Ads In Your Face

This highlights section also has a hidden surprise: advertising. Unlike the previous design, where ads appeared to the side of the page, they are now built directly into the highlights section. That's already caused complaints, with the Washington Post saying, "With only a narrow column to work with, the stories don't stand out. And with so little real-estate, sponsored items (which are basically just ads) are more irritating." (Source:

Given that a senior Facebook exec recently noted the firm could make a billion dollars a year from advertising but didn't want to drive away users, it will be interesting to see whether users consider such integrated ads a step too far.

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