The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Fury over Facebook feed fires up students

Earlier this week, the Internet behemoth Facebook introduced the latest in a long line of features for its users.

But its News Feeds, alerts about the recent Facebook actions of users’ friends, have drawn sharp criticism from some and mixed reviews from many others.

The new feature allows users to see instantly whether friends have joined a group, posted a message on someone’s wall or put up photos.

Students Against Facebook News Feeds, a group protesting the new move, had more than 705,000 members as of Thursday with more than 14,000 wall posts on the group’s Facebook home page. There’s also a call to boycott the site on Tuesday, a week after the feature first went online.

SMU junior chemistry major Lauren Leahy said she wasn’t sure about Facebook’s new move.

“While I understand the intentions of revamping the Facebook, it feels too much like a digital private eye,” she said. And while Leahy acknowledged that the information wasn’t anything that wasn’t available before, she thought that “the method in which they’re displaying it — I think that’s going too far.”

But Facebook creators are defending the new technology.

In a form letter sent to users who e-mailed in complaints, a representative who signed his name only as Brendan said that, “We introduced News Feed and Mini-Feed because we wanted to make it easier than ever before to see interesting, relevant pieces of information from the world around you.”

The representative went on to defend Facebook’s respect for privacy, saying that “What is important to remember with all of these features is that we are not allowing anyone to see anything that they wouldn’t normally be allowed to see.”

He also added that it’s easy to disable the new features.

“If you select the ‘X’ button to the right of any of your own stories, that content will no longer be visible to anyone viewing your Mini-Feed,” he said. Senior computer science and math major thought that the News Feed was a good idea, but that it gave users more responsibilities.

“It gives people the opportunity to get a lot of information,” he said, “but they’ve also put tools in so you can control what other people see.”

“It’s a really powerful tool, it’s just all in the control of the user,” he went on to explain. “If the user is irresponsible, the program can work against them and come back to haunt them,” he said.

Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of the Palo Alto, Calif., based company, said Thursday that it “failed to communicate to our users actively what it actually meant for them.” He also said the site was working on giving users more privacy options, like letting users block entire categories from feeds but still letting friends observe changes by visiting their profile page. Under the current system, users have to remove an action each time it’s performed.

Senior advertising major Jessica Janosko thought that such a privacy measure was necessary.

“I know that if you don’t want it on the News Feed you can just take it off — technically you can, if you want to.

But I think there should be an overall opt-out,” she said. Other than that, she said, her objections were minimal.

“Stuff that’s always been private is still private,” she said. “But it kind of takes a little bit of the fun out of Facebooking and finding out stuff — everything’s there.”

More to Discover