What fresh chaos will Facebook bring in the new year? How will it contend with a new political dynamic? Will Zuckerberg stick to his “no more annual challenges” pledge? To kick things off, the world’s biggest social network is making some changes to Pages including the retirement of “likes.”
On Wednesday, Facebook announced a wide range of changes to its Pages feature. The category allows businesses, publications, artists, and public figures to create a space on the main Facebook platform in order to interact with and update fans. Today’s overhaul brings the experience of running a Page a bit closer to that of a standard profile. There are some cosmetic and UI tweaks, but the headlining difference rolling out to users is that the “Like” function is going away.
The company explained that this decision is really just a bit of housekeeping. In the past, users could choose whether to follow a Page that they’ve liked. For example, your best buddy from high school might have asked you to like their band’s Page years ago. You did it to make them feel good but later unfollowed so you didn’t have to see all their updates. Now the band has a like from someone who isn’t really into the Page. Not anymore. Users who liked and follow a page transfer over to followers in the new system, but those phantom likes are dead.
“For a stronger indicator of the number of people who would like to see your Page’s posts in their feed, using followers is a better signal,” Facebook explained. An FAQ has more details for any Page proprietors who are confused by their numbers seemingly dropping overnight.
Other areas of the redesign include the addition of a customizable newsfeed for Page admins, the ability to host Q&As with followers, finer control over admin access, and improved spam filters.
The user-level view is that Pages are being given a bigger incentive to engage in a more social experience. The redesign boosts comments coming from Page admins and pushes them to have more interactions with followers. From a big picture perspective, we could see Facebook putting more emphasis on small businesses as it engages in a war of words with Apple and fends off an antitrust suit from the FTC.
Facebook’s public messaging in opposition to Apple’s privacy policies has been focused on claims that harming the social network’s ability to use invasive data collection to target ads will harm small businesses just trying to get by in a changing world. With Facebook’s data locked inside a black box, it’s impossible to fact check its claims, but expect to see more faux-populist talking points as the federal government pursues its case.
If Facebook really wanted to create a better user experience and build goodwill, it would kill every damn Like button on every platform it owns and refocus on a chronological feed. As it is, Facebook just low-key NARC’d that you never liked your friend’s band, anyway.