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Dealing with the new Facebook

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Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio. Readers may send questions to evtrib@datadoctors.com.

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Posted: Friday, September 23, 2011 1:47 pm | Updated: 12:43 am, Sat Oct 29, 2011.

Q: Is there any way to turn off the “new” Facebook and go back to the old way?

A: In general, we humans hate change, especially when it comes to something that we use regularly.

One of the downsides of popular technology platforms is that when you make a change, you are bound to upset a huge number of people (just ask Microsoft).

With 800 million users now on Facebook, if 10 percent get ticked off when they make a change, that’s 80 million angry users (though I think this overhaul has upset more).

Facebook making dramatic changes to its interface is actually nothing new; the former interface that everyone seems to want back was blasted by users when it first made its appearance as well.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the user is not the actual “customer” on Facebook (we don’t pay them to use the network, but advertisers do) so often times, changes are made to improve value to the advertisers.

Before I go into the ways that you can use Facebook without some of the new features, I think everyone should at least attempt to understand and use the changes; they could actually improve your interactions with your network.

One of the goals of the redesign was to help users with one of the problems we all face: missed content that is important to us, not Facebook. The average Facebook user has 130 friends, making it virtually impossible to see what all your friends are posting unless you live your entire day on Facebook.

The updated interface has actually made it easier to be off of the network for longer periods of time without having to scroll down a long list of posts to see what you missed.

The old interface by default only showed you posts from those with whom you had interacted in the past two weeks. Unless you changed this setting, many of your friends would simply drift off your news stream as if they had stopped posting anything at all.

Facebook realized this was not the optimum setting for everyone, so they are attempting to give users more control over what they see (combined, of course, with their automated processes) which seems to be the impetus for the current changes.

By splitting what are deemed as important posts with a real-time “ticker” for current activity, you have the ability to see what has happened with what is happening (what do you expect from a company full of “multitaskers”?).

The critical part of the updates is that they give users a much more detailed set of tools for determining what shows up on the news feed — and if you don’t use them, Facebook will determine what you see. By selecting “Top Stories” (top left portion of any post) you will help Facebook’s automated system understand what type of content is important to you.

By clicking on the options arrow (float your mouse over the top right corner of any post), you can hide a story, change what you see from that user or unsubscribe altogether from that user so their posts no longer show up on your news feed or on your ticker.

One of the biggest complaints seems to be the new Twitter-like ticker on the right side of the screen, which I actually really like (but to each his own!).

You can reduce how much of the screen the ticker takes by dragging the divider at the bottom so your list of online friends takes most of the sidebar or click the “hide sidebar” icon in the bottom right corner.

If you really want the minimalist view, you can also use the stripped-down mobile interface on your computer by going to http://m.facebook.com.

If you use Google’s Chrome browser, you can also add the “Hide Facebook SideBar Ticker” extension by going here: http://goo.gl/uDzwf

• Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio

Readers may send questions to evtrib@datadoctors.com

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Ken Colburn
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  • E-mail: evtrib@datadoctors.com
  • Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio
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