The six biggest changes to Facebook (and how to undo them)

Ch-ch-ch-changes. Today’s Facebook looks a lot different than yesterday's -- and as usual, many people don't like the new look. Fortunately, some of the changes can be undone.

Notice anything different about Facebook lately? Yes, they’ve done it again.

Kicked out of their complacency by the emergence of Google+, the social media mavens have unveiled an unprecedented number of changes to coincide with the annual F8 developers conference.

Some changes (like Facebook subscriptions) were announced a few days ago, some have just been foisted upon an unsuspecting public. And, as happens every time Facebook tweaks something, many people are hating on them big time.

Here are the half dozen biggest changes – and what, if anything, you can do to get your old Facebook back.

Tick tick ticker: Want to know what all of your friends are doing every single moment of every day on Facebook? A new ticker in the top right corner of your news feed gives you a Twitter-like stream that details every activity by all of your peeps – and makes you wonder if any of your friends actually have a life. 

Hate the ticker? You’re not alone. The SumTips blog offers a few semi-geeky ways to turn it off in Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, mostly via the AdBlock Plus extension.

Talk talk talker: Feeling constrained by Facebook’s arbitrary 500-character limit on posts? You now have 10 times more space to bore fascinate your friends with your obnoxious keen observations and lameass brilliant opinions. And if any of your friends do go on for 5,000 characters, well, that’s why Facebook invented the 'unfriend' feature.

All news, all the time: Surprised by the sudden appearance of all these semi-strangers at the top of your news feed? I know I was. Facebook has combined its old “Most Recent” and “Top Stories” feeds into one, flagging the “Top” stories with a little blue triangle in the left corner.

If you don’t like what Facebook’s choices for Top Stories, you can click the blue triangle and Facebook’s inscrutable EdgeRank algorithms will stop flagging stories similar to it as “Top”.

[img_assist|nid=205845|title=Facebook now filters news feed based on your friends lists (Go Bears!)|desc=|link=none|align=none|width=585|height=391]

Here’s the best part: Click on a friends list on the left side of your page to see only those posts from, say, close friends, work pals, or your old college chums. For the first time, those friends lists are actually useful.

The floating bar: No, sadly, this is not a poolside hangout at St. Barts. Facebook has anchored the navigation bar to the top of your screen, so your notifications, messages, requests, etc. are always accessible, no matter how far down the page you scroll. Don’t like it? Chrome users can sink the floating bar by installing the Unannoying Facebook extension.

The little stuff: Then there are the small tweaks. Photos are now a scosh larger. You can still “poke” people, but you’ve got to find the poke button first. (Go to that friend’s profile and click the button at the top right corner with the little gear on it. Worth the trouble? Probably not.)

Want to wish all of your aging friends a happy birthday? You can now click on the birthday box on the right side of your profile and add greetings inside a single dialog, instead of having to visit each profile individually. (For those special occasions when sending a Facebook greeting just isn’t impersonal enough.)

Want to send a new friend request? You can no longer send an obsequious message along with it, apologizing for that time you spilled guacamole dip all over their prom dress. (Sorry, Terri.) And no, you can’t do anything about that.

Much bigger stuff: Today Facebook is also likely to reveal a new music service based on Spotify, as well as new ways to share content with your Facebook posse. I’m sure many of you out there will hate that, too. But that is a topic for another day.

What’s your favorite (or most hated) new Facebook feature? Post your comment below or ping me on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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