New look Facebook Most locals say redesign won’t affect them

Madeline Leitch, 17, of Sullivan’s Island, said she is not concerned about the changes to Facebook, which she has used for about four years. “I don’t really think it will bother me.”

Facebook announced Thursday that it is redesigning its look — bigger pictures, a sharper appearance and more options for users who are fond of particular topics.

The new design represents the biggest change to Facebook’s News Feed in nearly two years. It eventually could show users more advertisements, and its new specialized feeds have been compared to different sections of a newspaper.

The changes already have rolled out to some users, and will launch on mobile platforms in the next few weeks.

Without having seen it yet, local Facebook users still don’t know what to think about the new News Feed.

Beth Hilleke of Charleston is glad to hear that photo displays will be changing, but is waiting to see exactly how.

“If they change the photo display algorithm such that it displays the whole picture instead of just the middle portion of it (at least on the iPad), I’d be happy,” she wrote in response to a query by The Post and Courier on Facebook. “Seeing only the middle of some pictures is a bit unpleasant/unfortunate, shall we say?”

One teen said she relies on other social media and is not worried about the Facebook redesign.

“I’m not that concerned with changes,”said Madeline Leitch, 17, of Sullivan’s Island. “I don’t really think it will bother me.”

The teen said Facebook is just one mode of social media she uses to keep up with friends. She also texts and uses Snapchat, a photo messaging app, she said.

While the main News Feed page still will rank posts according to Facebook’s formula for calculating what users want to see based on their past likes and those of their friends, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said users also will be able to switch to a specialized stream, like the sections of a newspaper.

Previous News Feed revisions on Facebook have sparked a backlash from users who did not like change.

“The switch to Timeline nearly drove me away a couple years ago,” said Andy Wilson of Goose Creek of the 2011 change. “I survived that, so I think I can survive this. Then again, if I don’t like it, I’m sure I can live without Facebook.”

Many others apparently feel the same way. A survey this year by the Pew Research Center revealed that 61 percent of users had taken a sabbatical from the social network, sometimes for months at a time, and 20 percent had deactivated their account entirely.

Facebook executives said the company believes the new design responds to users’ requests. It will look the same on all kinds of screens, from desktop computers to tablets and smartphones, said Facebook executive Chris Cox. It most resembles what Facebook now looks like on mobile devices.

Some analysts have warned that Facebook must be careful not to alienate users by showing too many ads, but the company’s use of “Sponsored Stories” already has allowed it to build a sizable mobile advertising business, expected to exceed $1 billion annually, or more than a quarter of Facebook’s overall advertising revenues.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.