A quiet revolution

Facebook made some changes this week which could potentially be some of the most significant ever made. And given its history of redesigns, that’s saying something.

And yet you probably haven’t heard about them. That’s because on the surface, the changes were quite minor. Essentially, Facebook has begun updating public Pages to match the redesign that was applied to personal profiles in January. You know, photos at the top, links on the side, etc.

But along the way they’re making another change.Page administrators can now switch from navigating Facebook as themselves to navigating it as one of their Pages. They can now ‘like’ other Pages as their Page, comment on them, and even see a News Feed of all the things said on the Pages their Page has liked.

This is great news for Page administrators, who can use this feature to see quickly when they’ve got new comments from readers. But it has the potential to really change the way Facebook feels. You see, until now, most of the conversation on Facebook has been between real people – people commenting as themselves on their friends’ activity and on the pages they like. Now, though, it’ll be possible to create a Page as a character, organisation or just a false name – Pages aren’t as carefully restricted as personal profiles – and go about commenting and liking just like a normal ‘real’ member does. That opens up the potential for useful things, like businesses commenting on the posts of people who say something about them, as often happens on Twitter. But it also has the potential for scams, or businesses leaving negative comments on each others’ pages, or the general reduction in politeness that can happen on the internet when people aren’t using their real names.

We’ll be interested to see how things pan out. Right now, we’re off to register a page called ‘Death’ and leave some scary messages around a few enemies’ profiles.

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