Facebook Pushes Profile Out To All, Users Revolt

People who haven't yet chosen to upgrade to the new profile layout will lose their choice in a couple of days. Notes on top of their home pages announce that migration will happen in a few days.

People who haven’t yet chosen to upgrade to the new profile layout will lose that right to choose in a couple of days. Today on top of the home page of Facebook, these individuals were greeted with a note, starting with a bold headline saying, “Coming Soon: Your New Profile.”

The note continues, “In the next few days you’ll be upgraded to the new profile, which offers more ways to show and tell your story.” Facebook’s official blog also contains a post about the forced migration to the layouts:

Last month, we introduced the new profile, which now makes it even easier for you to tell your story and learn about your friends. For the month of December, we gave people the option to upgrade to the new profile early, and hundreds of millions of you made the switch. Starting today, we’ll be rolling out the new profile to everyone.

I’m calling this a communications malfunction. At no point during the initial rollout of the new layouts did Facebook tell anyone outside the company that the profiles would become mandatory.

Rolling out new features in stages can be a great strategy, but that works best when well communicated. Remember how the official Facebook announcement of the profile layouts consisted of a video that only showed, but didn’t really tell the new features? Users have had to figure them out on their own.

During the last month, a friend who’d chosen the profile upgrade have asked me about how to revert to the previous layout — actually, this was via a thread on my wall. Others had chimed in to the effect that they didn’t like the new features either. And plenty of similar gripes about the new forced migration appear in the comments section following Facebook’s blog post today.

An early commenter aptly responded, “Get a dislike button. NOT a new profile,” and received 738 likes as of this writing, although they’re listed as “votes” instead of “likes.”

Why do you suppose Facebook is forcing a migration to the new profile layout? What purpose could the phase-in have served in this case? Was this intended to mollify the people who tend to complain every time a new change comes out?