As we’ve all heard some of our friends say, “Who even uses Facebook anymore?” Of course, part of Facebook’s staying power (I’ve been on it for 9 years now–I got a Facebook account about the same time I made my first AIM account in middle school, HazelEyedFieldHockeyGal, if that says anything…) is its ability to change throughout the years. Going from a Harvard-only social networking site to the place you could “poke” your crush. It added the News-feed and then a timeline, and then a Cover-Photo design and everything in between. Good or bad, it’s kept us interested, sometimes angered, and often addicted.
Now, in 2017, it’s launched three new features. I’m here to report them all to you now, including Facebook’s as of yesterday new update… it’s own version of Netflix. Feel free to leave your love-or-hate thoughts below–if you’re a Facebook user, I’m sure you’ve got ‘em.
1. Facebook Stories
When I first saw Instagram’s new stories feature, I laughed at it. I mean, my friends and I were already posting 24-hour-lifespan video segments of anything exciting (and let’s be honest, less-than-so) going on in our lives to Snapchat, and now we were meant to take time out of our day to either recreate or personalize new videos and pics for our Instagram stories?
It was so ludicrous it somehow worked (to the credit of my friends who, despite barely having enough time to sleep at night, still have the time to post videos of their Tuesday night tacos and margaritas to both Snapchat and Instagram, god-forbid someone miss it).
And now, here to jump headfirst…or, dead-last…into the race, is the very pioneer of social media: Facebook.
Facebook Stories, launched in April ‘17 on both desktop and messenger, is your opportunity to post your fun night out on Facebook, as well (because who doesn’t have the time?).
So far, the new update has been so unsuccessful that after it’s initial release, Facebook changed the embarrassingly-blank area beside your story to grey-ed out pictures of your friends, with the cleverly-deceiving caption, “So-and-so hasn’t added to his story recently” (“recently” also potentially meaning “at all”).
I’ll keep somewhat quiet about my own intuition regarding whether or not Facebook stories will catch on. I mean, I’ve been wrong before. Comment below with your thoughts: Is there any unique benefit to Facebook’s stories? (Besides letting your dad, who doesn’t have access to your Snapchat account, see how much fun you had last Saturday! Cue the “how-are-you-doing?” chat Sunday afternoon.)
2. Facebook Comment Bubbles
As of August ‘17, Facebook has updated it’s design, both on mobile and desktop, so that your comments look more like text messages and your NewsFeed looks more like your Messenger app. The new design is partially meant to “[make it] feel more like a back and forth between two people,” explains Paddy Underwood, a Facebook product manager.
Undoubtedly, there will be varying degrees of emotions towards the new design, as there always is with the Facebook community (with 1/4 of the worldwide population on Facebook, what can you expect if not a little disagreement?).
Although the layout invites a certain level of personalization and comfort while commenting on someone’s post (which might encourage some people to forget to distinguish their prose between their best friend’s messages on the Messenger app, and a complete stranger’s political post), it also separates the comments into distinct bubbles, making it easier to track who is replying to who, or what. It also makes it easier to reply to an individual’s comment-bubble by clicking “Reply” below.
3. Facebook Watch
At first glance, you’re going to think that now Facebook is ripping off Netflix and Youtube, similarly to how they ripped off Snapchat (and actually, once I typed that, I realized this does have a certain resemblance to Youtube…).
But let’s give it a chance, Facebookers. Facebook Watch is essentially an organized platform to find videos and shows that are unique to Facebook.
I say ‘organized’ because I do understand that you can find videos this very minute on your News Feed, but usually, you just get lucky when you scroll to that hilarious cat video–and once it’s lost to the hole that is your News Feed, it’s pretty hard to find again.
While Netflix is focused on the individual (and for that, I’m grateful) with sections labelled “Top Picks For You” (so considerate), Facebook Watch is more community-oriented, with sections like “What Friends Are Watching,” “What’s Making People Laugh,” (distinguished as shows where people have used the “haha” reaction), and “Most Talked About.”
Below the videos, you can find people’s comments and reactions.
“We think Facebook Watch will be home to a wide range of shows, from reality to comedy to live sports,” says Daniel Danker, a Facebook Director of Product. “To help inspire creators and seed the ecosystem, we’ve also funded some shows that are examples of community-oriented and episodic video series.”
Granted, I can’t say how well the Facebook-funded video series will do, considering they’re competing against the high-quality of HBO and Netflix original shows, but I do think Facebook Watch is unique in that it offers a place to see what your friends and family are watching and to comment in real-time on the videos they like (or hate). Plus, Facebook’s original shows offer the chance to get involved (and perhaps famous for 3.2 seconds?) as a mere Facebook member. For example, Returning the Favor is a show hosted by Mike Rowe, and the candidates are nominated by Mike’s fans on Facebook.
You can find Watch on your mobile device, desktop, and as a TV app.
So, let us know your thoughts–Facebook Watch. Sink or swim?
*The Facebook comments and stories pictures are from my personal account, which is why I’ve blurred out my friend’s profile pictures and the rest of my newsfeed… I’ve also added the red line underneath my story (just in case, for some reason, you couldn’t see it).
Check out our other posts about Facebook.