Did Facebook Flub their Redesign?

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Though Facebook’s new design has only been pushed out to about 5% of the site’s 80 million users, it’s available to anyone who clicks on www.new.facebook.com. But a potential bug may make some users think twice about making the upgrade. But is it really a bug?

Web developer and entrepreneur Kyle Brady pinged me over the weekend to let me know about a possible bug he’d uncovered with the new Facebook design. Brady noticed after upgrading his account that his application page was suddenly cluttered with apps that he had never installed, or previously installed and subsequently uninstalled. According to Brady, he has had trouble trying to remove the apps now as well.

Curious, I logged into my Facebook app to see if I had any strange apps on my list as well. Surprisingly, there were. Facebook listed at least three applications that’d I’d previously removed and a couple that I can’t recall ever installing (though a year ago when the platform was just taking off, I was getting 20 or more emails requesting that I review a new Facebook app each week, so I did install and remove a ton of apps during those first couple of months). I didn’t have any problems removing them, though.

Brady recalls that there have long been rumors that Facebook never actually deletes any user data, it essentially just comments “deleted” stuff out so the rendering engine doesn’t display it. The reason, presumably, is that users are fickle and may change their mind later and want to reverse a decision.

Something printed on the Applications page on the new design seems to support that theory: “These are all the applications you’ve added or logged into in the past.” Of course, that also indicates that it’s not a bug, but a feature — the new apps page is a record of any app you added in the past, including applications you’ve removed. It doesn’t explain apps that you never installed (though I’m willing to concede that I may have installed some of the apps that “appeared” on my page briefly and just forgotten about it), and it would be sort of an odd feature — I removed those apps for a reason. But it is a potential explanation for the mysteriously appearing applications.

Have you noticed any applications appear that you didn’t add or had already removed since upgrading your Facebook account?

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  • http://anotherguy.us timothy.stiffler

    I was a bit confused by this blog because it made it seem like the “Boxes” tab in the new profiles is actually showing all of the previous applications. Now I understand though and can confirm that indeed in the Applications page (not the boxes tab) you can see “All Applications” which shows all past and present applications that have been installed.

    The “Bookmarks” page under Applications shows all currently used Applications, while “All Applications” shows just that, all applications I’ve previously and currently had installed. I’ve not seen any yet that I’ve not installed at all.

    This is extremely interesting though, because no doubt there will be some people complaining about privacy issues. It’s not that there is a privacy violation, just an addition of a new feature that will actually be pretty handy. I may just want to go back and install the app that I had previously uninstalled and blocked from requests that I forgot the name of. (Having that combo of ingredients will cause me to not find the app I want to install).

    Nice note, thanks.