“Facebook, America’s number two social network behind MySpace,” are the first few words of a story 10 years ago on tech news site Mashable.
It seems improbable today, but this ranking was indeed reality on Sept. 5, 2006. But beyond pointing out that Facebook was the second biggest social network, this particular news story was notable for focusing on the News Feed, Facebook’s newest feature at the time.
Today, the News Feed is the main way through which users interact with the social network and catch up on the newest photos, life updates, news articles, and cat videos their connections have shared. But at the time, it was controversial—so controversial that headlines quickly took a different turn.
“Facebook Users Revolt, Facebook Replies,” read TechCrunch’s follow up story about the new feature. “New Facebook Features Have Members in an Uproar,” said the Wall Street Journal. “In Online Social Club, Sharing Is the Point Until It Goes Too Far,” echoed the Washington Post.
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And finally came Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s response in a Facebook post: “Calm down. Breathe. We hear you.” (His irritation at the backlash is hard to miss here). Just a couple of days later, Facebook added some tweaks to let users more easily control what information is shared in the News Feed. As Zuckerberg explained, the News Feed already conformed to their privacy settings, though the new features helped them directly control that.
As with practically every other feature Facebook (or most other popular social media company) has since introduced, the hysteria eventually subsided and the world moved on—until the next uproar over a new feature, that is.
Take a look at the headlines about the introduction of the News Feed via Techmeme, an aggregator of the top daily news about the tech industry, here and here.