What’s Wrong With Facebook’s New Profiles

Facebook has released a new Facebook Profile. As usual, the changes seem pretty arbitrary, but Facebook appears to have moved in the direction of having a profile page that blends your professional life and your personal life, and I feel pretty strongly that this is a mistake.

Facebook offers this explanation of some core changes:

Your profile begins with a quick summary of who you are, giving friends an easy way to see where you live now, where you’re working and more. A collection of recently tagged photos also shows what you’ve been up to lately.

Give a more complete picture of how you spend your time, including your projects at work, the classes you take and other activities you enjoy (like hiking or reading). You can even include the friends who share your experiences.

What’s wrong with this picture?

I believe that many of us are still struggling to find the right balance between our Facebook profiles being highly personal and only for our trusted friends, versus being more professional and safe for our work colleagues to see. I’m also assuming that many of us, like me, are not tinkering under the hood with a fine-toothed comb to make sure our privacy settings are tweaked to perfection.

Given these factors, here are some problems with the new Facebook Profile:

  1. Tagged photos take center stage. While you can modify your privacy settings to control the tagging of photos and even untag yourself from other people’s photos, you are now having to “police” the images that show up front and center on your profile page, and they aren’t images that you’ve posted yourself. Before, they were hidden behind a tab and people had to seek them out if they were truly interested in your images, which was fine with me, because the photos that other people post of me and tag aren’t usually the ones I want to showcase.
  2. Work info gets pushed to the top. My Facebook profile is my personal account. The fact that I’m founder and owner of Mediaegg isn’t something I want to have at the top of my personal profile. I have a LinkedIn account that serves to showcase my professional work. If I wanted to present my work affiliation on my Facebook page, I’d also want to include that I’m also co-founder and owner of Conversify, but that isn’t an option.
  3. Educational info gets pushed to the top. I don’t want to showcase my educational details on Facebook. Again, that purpose is served via LinkedIn. I don’t mind that Facebook links me with former classmates via my high school affiliation, but I went to three colleges, none of which are important connections for me. I can’t remove the education data from the top summary of my profile page without deleting it entirely. There isn’t a “show my education in my profile” checkbox option like there is for gender.
  4. “Send message” button is to the right. Maybe this is just a matter of how my brain works, but having the link to send a message to someone when you are on their page should not be on the right-hand side. That link has been on the left-hand side of the page under a person’s profile photo forever. Now when I go to send a message to someone, it catches me off guard.
  5. “Friends in common” is gone. Or is it? I’m not entirely certain the “friends in common” feature is entirely gone, but I can’t find it. Ironically, for a service that is about connections, this very helpful feature is not where it used to be.

So, what do I like about the new profiles? I actually don’t mind that Facebook Pages now look different from Profiles — for the time being, at least.

Change can be good, and eventually we’ll all get used to the new Facebook Profiles. But it’s disconcerting when our social networks make assumptions about what we want to reveal or showcase, especially when the changes make it even harder for us to draw distinctions between our personal and professional presences online.

What do you think of the new Facebook Profiles?

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub. req.):