Facebook CEO: "Change Can Be Difficult"

Facebook.com founder Mark Zuckerberg smiles at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., in this Feb. 5, 2007, file photo. Facebook Inc. has avoided the acquisition frenzy that's gobbled up MySpace.com, YouTube and other startups, and the company is now striving to become a general portal like Yahoo, not just a social networking site for college students. AP Photo

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has caught on to the fact that a sizeable handful of his 100-million-plus users say they aren't too thrilled with the site's new redesign. But he won't change anything, as Facebook occasionally has in the face of user revolt.

A post on the company blog, authored by Zuckerberg, wrote that the site's new focus--which emphasizes the sharing of media and information -- is "an important step for us."

"In the last four years, we've built new products that help people share more, such as photos, videos, groups, events, wall posts, status updates and so on," the post read. "As people share more, sometimes we need to change the site to accommodate how much information people are posting."

Some Facebook users freaked out over its News Feed in 2006, and its Beacon advertising program last year. But the concerns voiced there dealt with privacy, not user interface. That was something that could've resulted in much more PR damage than a design that a slim percentage of users vehemently dislike (and which most, it seems, don't really care much about).

"Many people disliked News Feed at first because it changed their home page and how they shared information," Zuckerberg's post read. ("How they share information" is putting it lightly.) "Now it's one of the most important parts of Facebook. We think the new design can have the same effect." He added the company had gone through months of a "feedback" stage and that the final product was shaped largely in part by users' input.

In response to some Facebook users who asked if they could have the option to use the old design instead of the new one, Zuckerberg said it wasn't possible for technical reasons. "It's tempting to say that we should just support both designs, but this isn't as simple as it sounds," he wrote. "Supporting two versions is a huge amount of work for our small team, and it would mean that going forward we would have to build everything twice. If we did that then neither version would get our full attention."

Facebook's team isn't exactly tiny -- they have said they hope to hit 800 employees by the end of 2008 - -but running two Web sites that run the same property differently probably is a pain in the neck. Kind of analogous to Microsoft's dealing with those holdouts who are still using Windows 98.

And as for the members who have banded together to form Facebook groups protesting the new design (a bit meta, yes), Zuckerberg claims he's not offended. "We appreciate the thousands of you who have written in to give us feedback," the post read. "Even if you're joining a group to express things you don't like about the new design, you're giving us important feedback and you're sharing your voice, which is what Facebook is all about."

By Caroline McCarthy
  • CBSNews

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