Facebook users are cranky, but developers like what they see

@CNNMoneyTech September 22, 2011: 4:11 PM ET
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a wave of Facebook changes at f8.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a wave of Facebook changes at f8.

SAN FRANCISCO (CNNMoney) -- Facebook's 750 million members are livid about the flurry of changes the site rolled out this week. But another key community -- Facebook's network of third-party developers -- is taking a wait-and-see approach.

Several thousand Facebook developers gathered in San Francisco on Thursday for f8, Facebook's annual strategy conference. The event traditionally brings with it a batch of new site features, and Facebook quickly unveiled two biggies: a radically redesigned News Feed and a personal "timeline" to replace users' profile pages.

Facebook users blasted back hard against the new News Feed, which began rolling out earlier this week. But Kevin Rose, who founded Digg and is now at work on a new startup called Milk, said that reaction is inevitable to any new changes made to a site with a large and passionate audience. He expects this blow-up to follow the traditional cycle: A volcanic freak out, followed by gradual acceptance.

"the fb news ticker reminds me of the hate when the news feed launched," he tweeted, referring to negative reaction Facebook's members had when the feature first launched in 2006. "Everyone will love/accept it in a few days... watch."

Sean Parker, an early Facebook adviser who still holds an ownership stake in the company, used Facbeook's new "subscribe" feature to blast off a series of notes sympathizing with the cranky users. He called Facebook's new lists functionality "still too painful to use," and said the site's initial stab at automatically sorting "friends" lists into smaller subsets shows that Facebook is doing "a piss poor job of making these decisions on our behalf."

But Parker also said he thinks the changes were necessary and will eventually please users: "Lest anyone misinterpret my ranting, I'm incredibly happy with where the product is headed and this is a proud moment to be an owner and friend of the company. Regardless of whether you're exhilarated or aggravated by the recent changes, there's a lot more good things coming down the pipe."

In his keynote speech at f8, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled new ways for users to share information -- and for content creators to gather fresh intel on what is beings shared. Facebook is expanding its vocabulary beyond "Like" to add verbs: Users will soon be able to "watch" a movie or "read" a book.

Michael Marina, a partner at digital creative agency Famous Interactive, is looking forward to those "active" buttons.

"Clients always come to us and say 'we want as many Facebook fans as possible,'" he said. "This is going to change the game because it's going to add context to what it is that you're liking. Some of the new ad formats and social recommendations are going to be big."

Facebook also unveiled changes to the permissions process users go through when they install new apps. The new version will let users control in more detail what information their apps share with others.

That's a change game companies especially like. A previous change to Facebook's app system killed off many of the updates games used to send to players' news feeds. Now, users can choose to add those updates back in. Want to tell the world you bought a virtual cow? With the new system, the game can broadcast the message for you.

"We'll actually really be able to unleash a new level of peoples' social interaction within that game," said Kristian Segerstrale, CEO social gaming company Playfish, which is owned by Electronic Arts (ERTS). "When we are able to use new features of the open graph, those interactions become automatic through the stream." To top of page

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