Facebook Chat – If it wasn't broke, why did they “fix” it?

facebook_logoI’m sure most of you have, by now, noticed that Facebook has integrated their update on the chat feature. Instead of that small pop out box, we get a whole new sidebar full of friends, complete with their names and thumbnails of their profile pictures. The symbols used to indicate whether a friend is online or offline are pretty much the same; a green dot for Online, a gray dot for Online but Inactive, and nothing for those who are offline. It seems pretty functional – but take a minute to actually use it and you’ll be spitting out some profanities at the update’s sheer silliness.

First and foremost, why do they even list people who are offline? It’s a total waste of space – completely unnecessary and horrifyingly annoying. After all, if we have something to say to people who aren’t online, we can just go to their pages and send them a message. The chat box is for live chatting, and to have people listed there who aren’t even online to begin with makes no sense whatsoever.

Another thing that you have no doubt noticed is that a huge chunk of the friend list is missing. Zoom your browser out and you’ll find some of them. The list is actually arranged alphabetically – so if you’re named Zaphod, then you can pretty much kiss your online social life goodbye because nobody’s going to see you on their lists. Unless, of course, your friends will specifically remember you and decide to search for your name on the search bar at the bottom, then and only then will they see if you’re online. What this new process takes away is the chance to reconnect with people who aren’t necessarily in your thoughts but happen to be online. This happened to be one of the best things about Facebook, so why they scrapped it is just beyond me. The funny thing is that they could have easily remedied this problem by adding a scrollbar and to simply list those who are online at the top. And, if you zoom in enough on your browser, a scroll bar actually appears, but the list will still be incomplete and you’ll still be limited to those few people that you, according to FB, “interact with most frequently”, arranged alphabetically.

Also, because the new Facebook chat update “dynamically” determines who we interact with most frequently, we no longer get to see our friends organized into groups. Before, the only ones in the chat list were those who were online and online but inactive. Their names would be listed beneath their respective groups, and we had the option of making ourselves visible or invisible to these groups. You can still limit your availability to these groups, but you don’t get to choose who appears on your sidebar. Apparently, Facebook’s system knows better than you about who you want to talk to. This is exactly similar to how they know what you want to see in your newsfeed better than you do.

At the end of the day (and after trying out the [sacrcasm]new and improved[/sarcasm] chat feature), one simply can’t help but ask, “What was wrong with the old version, anyway?”

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