On Tuesday morning the popular social networking site unrolled a new feature dubbed the "News Feed" that allows users to track their friends' Facebook movements by the minute. For many of Facebook's 8-million plus student users, it was too much. Within 24 hours, hundreds of thousands of students nationwide organized themselves to protest the new feature. Ironically, they're using Facebook to do it.
The feature in question appears on the user's home page and looks like a glitzy laundry list. It chronicles every action a user's friends have recently taken on Facebook. These include the mundane: Sally befriended Joan, the boring: Tim now likes The Daily Show, and the juicy: John and Beth broke up. And in case it matters, each action is time-stamped to the minute.
I've been invited (yes, I'm on Facebook) to multiple pro-and-anti-news feed groups. But I'm passing on the anti-groups and not giving a damn about the "intrusiveness" of the news feed. It's not really a "stalking" service, as you only see updates from people who've digitally affirmed your friendship. If it was a stalking service, it wouldn't even be a good one, as the updates are all about activity in the digital world—if you want to wait in the shadows for Cute Girl X, it hardly helps to know she joined the group "Stephen Colbert is the Best NU Alumnus Ever."
Even if this particular revolt isn't that important, it's pretty heartening that Gen Y (or "Gen Facebook," if you can stand it) can rise to anger so quickly over privacy issues. The makers of YoungPeopleForNSAWiretaps.org might want to hold off on their launch date.