Facebook’s New Look Won’t Fix Its Problems
The social media behemoth got a re-vamped interface to go with the same old fake content.
I got an alert that I was being invited to try Facebook Beta or Facebook’s revamped user interface. There is a choice between a light and a dark interface. I wonder what happens if I want greyscale? Jokes aside, re-designs can always be a bit jarring. We get used to the way an interface looks. We know where everything is located. It’s a bit like -re-organizing your room. It might look better but you never remember where anything is.
Facebook, and Twitter as well, is still refusing to take down an altered political video. One that shows Nancy Pelosi famously riping the State of the Union address in two except at the wrong point in the speech. This type of content could affect anyone no matter which side of the aisle your politics sit. A new interface won’t combat fake or misleading content. It won’t address the mounting privacy concerns. And really it’s not meant too.
In a way, Facebook’s problems, and Twitter’s and all the others, are design problems. Design isn’t about making a website look pretty. It’s about making a site, an app, or a piece of clothing or a building structurally sound. It’s about solving real-world problems.
Design starts at the drawing board. Does the project have good bones, to begin with? Facebook is putting on new makeup but that doesn’t change the structure. Embedded in that structure are the problems. This is the case with many or even most of the social media platforms in use today. Privacy never factored into the original ideation of Facebook. No were thoughts given to having verifiable content. These are very hard to reverse-engineer. You would have to build new principles and values into the structure.
It may be too late for a drastic re-design of such a dominant social media platform. Other platforms are eyeing Facebook’s users. I got a crash-course in TikTok over the weekend. I’m not convinced it can take over. But young people are flocking to it.
New interface or not I will continue to use Facebook. It’s connected me with people all over the world. It’s hard to leave. And I wonder when or if the day will come when we all move on to another platform. Will that platform have similar problems or ones we can not even imagine?
One of my mentors, Red Burns is famous amongst her students for hoping, “That you don’t see the world as a market, but rather a place that people live in- you are designing for people- not machines.” There are people for which privacy is not important and others who demand. There are fantastical content and storytelling and other stories which must be grounded in an accepted truth. Somewhere along the way, Facebook and the other platforms forgot they were designing for people. They forgot they were building for people. Let’s hope the next wave of social media platforms remember.