More on Facebook’s “Happening Now”

What’s “Happening Now?”

As we wrote about a few posts back, Facebook is currently test-marketing a new feature called “Happening Now” that functions much like a Twitter feed. Embedded on the right side of your profile page, Happening Now provides a real-time feed of your friends’ activities—things they are “liking,” web pages or videos they are sharing, comments they are making, etc.

Nothing Good

The problem is, those in the small test market group seem to hate it! Major complaints include that it is redundant with your existing main page news feed, that it has done away with reminders of upcoming events (some people have even missed events because they didn’t get the reminder they normally would have), and that it provides way too much information, cluttering up the profile page and generally making it busier than it needs to be.

Nothing Good at All

Our earlier post received a couple comments from test subjects who both hate the new feature. And a discussion page on Facebook itself is full of exclusively negative comments, such as this one: “I just got it on my account today and it’s HORRIBLE. I’ve emailed them to complain. There doesn’t appear to be any way to remove it. It’s annoying, and on top of it, you no longer see birthdays and events. Crappy move on Facebook’s part.”

What’s Happening Next?

While it’s not clear that the negativity has reached any sort of critical mass, the absence of anything positive has to be a concern for Facebook. While initial articles about the feature did note its redundancy with the main news feed, and suggested final rollout would focus more on likes and shares, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will Facebook respond to users’ feedback and provide a way to opt out? Will they bring back event reminders on profile pages? Will they scrap Happening Now altogether?

We Want to Hear from You

If you’re part of the test group, we want to know what you think about Happening Now. Good? Bad? Horrible? Indifferent? And whether you’ve experience it or not, how responsive should companies like Facebook be to user criticism? Amid reports of a steady drain of users in recent months and an already shaky reputation on privacy, could a major misstep push even more people out the door and open the way for another platform to take over as the new social media giant? Might Facebook go the way of MySpace or Friendster?