In a memo to its advertisers, Facebook quietly announced that it would change the phrase “Become A Fan” to “Like” in what, at times, seems like an ongoing effort to confuse and enrage its users. “Like” has had a very specific, while malleable, usage for Facebook users and changing it to gear towards advertisers and Fan Page subscriptions is deceptive.
Not only does the move seem like a confusing one for users, but it opens up their actions to the public, as becoming a fan of something is completely public to all who view your profile.
While the memo says that “users will understand the distinction through explicit social context, messaging and aesthetic differences”, we expect that the majority of users will only find out the difference between liking now and liking then when they “Like” something that suddenly bombards their feed with stories and advertisements.
The memo offers an example of how an ad for a page will look with the “language change”.
According to an article in Clikz on the change, the memo also points out that “Facebook users have been clicking the current ‘Like’ feature nearly twice as often as the ‘Become A Fan’ button”. The reason, it seems to us, is apparent – clicking “Like” was a quick and easy way to convey approval, support or other simple sentiment, not a way to commit to being a fan and subscribing to news updates in their News Feed for perpetuity.
“Like” offers a light-weight, consistent way for users to connect with the things they are passionate about. This lighter-weight action for connection to a Page on Facebook means that users will be making more connections across the site, including your Facebook Page.
Changing what Facebook has identified as a “lighter-weight action” into an action that has deeper implications is at the core of what we find deceptive here. Was there anything wrong with the language of “Become A Fan”?
With that language, it was clear that there was a separation from any time I might “Like” something. I would be connected to that Page and would receive updates in my News Feed. It would show up, publicly, to anyone and everyone that viewed my page on the Internet, as a result of the privacy changes to the site last December.
Were users clicking on “Become A Fan” less for a reason? Likely so – they didn’t want to subscribe to that particular content in their news feed and, if they understood the privacy implications, because they didn’t want to broadcast to the world what they saw as private thoughts and opinions.