User protests have forced social network site Facebook to radically re-design its controversial News Feed feature, which critics argue is a Godsend for stalkers. As originally launched earlier this week, News Feed appears automatically on every user"s home page, updating members about recent Facebook activities by that person"s friends. For example, Facebook would automatically notify users whenever a photo is posted by friends or they split up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The feature is designed to make it easier for friends to keep up to date with each other. But many users are unhappy that the feature was pushed upon them. At the heart of the controversy was the idea that casual acquaintances, maintained through the Facebook network, would find out about changes to user"s circumstances indiscriminately.
Facebook has expanded beyond its college student base to rack up 9.5m members, mainly in the US, leaving it second behind only MySpace in the social network site market. More than 500,000 of these users signed an online petition calling on Facebook to scrap News Feed. Faceback has responded to this welter of criticism by giving users far more control over the information they share, something it now admits it ought to have done in the first place.