Facebook has redesigned its user profile page, pushing more personal info and photos to the top in an effort to make it "even easier for you to tell your story and learn about your friends."
The new-look page was unveiled on Sunday evening, just before Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared on the venerable TV news magazine 60 Minutes here in the US. Zuckerberg flaunted the redesign during his interview with CBS newswoman Leslie Stahl, before dancing around questions about privacy, the founding of Facebook, and whether he plans to conquer the entire internet.
With the profile redesign, Facebook puts your basic biographical information front and center, including where you're from, where you went to school, and where you work – the kind of stuff you'd apparently unload when you "meet someone in a bar." Then, just below this biographical info, there's a horizontal row of recent photos posted by you or your friends. "People love photos," Zuckerberg told Stahl.
There's also a new section on the left-hand side of the page that lets you list the most important people in your life. And you can now tap a tool that describes your "connection" to any one of your Facebook "friends."
"You can see all the things you have in common with that person," Zuckerberg said. "It gives you an amazing connection with that person in a way that the current version of the profile just doesn't do."
Stahl argued that the new profile encourages users to reveal more about themselves, and she gave Zuckerberg the requisite grilling over Facebook's treatment of privacy. As he did last month at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, Zuckerberg played the we're-only-human card. "Do we get it right all the time? No," he said. "But it's something that we take really seriously, and every day, we come to work and try to do a great job on this...
"It's an important thing for everyone to just be thinking about. I mean privacy and making sure that people have control over their information is one of the most fundamental things on the internet."
Indeed it is.
Zuckerberg appeared reasonably comfortable during the interview and not completely detached from the conversation. He must be taking some sort of Bill Gatesian public speaking course. The classic Zuckerberg does reappear on occasion, but in recent months, his public appearances have been relatively painless. When Stahl asked about Google, he didn't say "Is that a question?" He gave the sort of meaningless answer you'd expect from the CEO of a major American corporation. "I do think there are areas where the companies compete," he said. "But then there are all these things where we just don't compete at all."
At this point, Stahl asked him – twice – if he wanted to conquer the entire internet. And twice, he dodged the question. "Think about it like this: People, if they can use a product of any category – photos, groups, music, tv – either by themselves or with their friends, I think most of the time, it's with their friends," he said, echoing more talk from Web 2.0. "The answer is that we want to help a lot of people build these products."
Yes, he also fielded questions about The Social Network, the absolutely cracking Hollywood film from director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin that depicts the founding of Facebook – and takes a few liberties along the way. In The New Yorker this fall, Zuckerberg vowed not to see the film, but on opening day, he changed his mind and took the entire company. "I actually thought it was pretty fun," he said, ever-so-briefly forcing a smile.
Asked what he thought, he complimented the filmmakers on their wardrobe choices. "I think they got every single T-shirt that they had the Mark Zuckerberg character wearing right," he said. "I think I actually owned those T-Shirts. And they got the sandals right and all that." Like his fictional alter ego, the real Zuckerberg had a habit of wearing open-toed adidas sandals and socks – even in the dead of winter.
But he took issue with the notion that he created Facebook just to get girls, pointing out that he's had the same girlfriend since before founding the site. And he complained about the depiction of his relationship with fellow Harvard classmates Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the crew-rowing identical twins who claim that Zuckerberg sabotaged their social networking project – Harvard Connection, later renamed ConnectU – and ripped off their idea. In 2008, the twins settled a lawsuit aimed at Zuckerberg for a reported $65m, and now, they're looking for more, claiming that Facebook hid the true value of the company when the suit was settled.
The twins claim that Zuckerberg "pre-meditatively sandbagged" them. And Zuckerberg IMs from 2004 bear this out. But Zuckerberg doesn't see why the movie even bothered with the Winklevi. "I probably spent less than two weeks of my time worried about this lawsuit at all," he said. "This has never been a big deal to Facebook or its evolution."
Asked if he felt any remorse, he said: "After all this time, I feel bad that they still feel bad about it." ®