Green featured in MarketWatch article about Facebook's redesign: adding digital "living rooms"

Published May 6, 2019

Dr. Melanie Green, a professor in the Department of Communication, was featured in the recent MarketWatch article “Mark Zuckerberg wants people to join Facebook groups, but critics say it’s another way to collect your most intimate data,” by Quentin Fottrell.

The article discusses the unveiling of Facebook’s redesign, in which online groups or digital “living rooms” will be integrated into the platform.  “Now we’re focused on building the digital equivalent of the living room, where you can interact in all the ways you’d want privately,” says Mark Zuckerberg, “We’ve redesigned Facebook to make communities as central as friends.”

By removing the iconic blue banner at the top of the page, Facebook hopes to invite users to have more group conversations and to reduce abusive content as a response.  This redesign is intended to encourage users to reveal even more personal beliefs and details from their lives.

Despite Zuckerberg’s enthusiasm and confidence about the platform’s future, privacy advocates and communications experts are skeptical about the site’s redesign.  Critics argue that by encouraging groups of people to share their passions and interests online, advertisers are gaining valuable data, even more than is gained now, from these “private” conversations.

On the other hand, Melanie Green and others see Facebook’s redesign as a positive and genuine effort from the platform to encourage improved conversations among users.  Green mentioned that the #DeleteFacebook hashtag went viral in response to privacy scandals and caused some people to leave Facebook, post less frequently, or share less personal information.  “Therefore, people may be seeing less content from their personal friends,” says Dr. Green.

The question remains, should you trust Facebook’s redesign?  “We regularly hear from people who tell us that groups are now a central part of their Facebook experience,” a Facebook spokesman said, “They are an everyday resource for people to connect over things they care about – a place to exchange new recipes, learn what’s happening in their neighborhood or to simply bond over a love of dogs.”  “They are also a place where people share life events, like moving, parenthood or new careers.”  Users have to decide whether having more intimate and meaningful conversations is worth the possibility of advertisers spectating those conversations.

Read the full article here.