Long ago, all the way back in the ’90s, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram. Back then we had America On Line, mostly known as AOL. Even before text messaging, AOL pioneered Instant Messenger, better known as AIM, to communicate with your friends, family and coworkers. Now fast forward to 2015, the Facebook status update has completely replaced AIM’s bread and butter.
Since Facebook is now the preferred way to communicate with the world around you, the social media giant is bringing back one of the staples of early instant messaging: Away messages. Only now, Facebook will be calling it a “sidebar status.”
“People were having a difficult time staying in touch with their friends and seeing what they’re doing on a daily basis,” Sue Young, a Facebook product manager, said in an interview. The idea behind the sidebar status, she said, is that “small things would make people feel connected in a big way.” She added: “Now when I visit the sidebar, I can get an instant pulse of what all my friends are doing.”
To access the sidebar from within the Facebook app, all you need to do is swipe right at any point. When viewing the sidebar, you can view all of your friends list, with the friends you interact with most displayed at the top. The sidebar status will be located next to the person’s profile picture, and could even include an icon or fun graphic opposite of the profile picture.
The sidebar status is only viewable there – it’s not in anyone’s News Feed or on your profile. Your status will also only be displayed for 12 hours, or until you update it. Even better, you can set your privacy settings so you can restrict certain individuals from seeing your updates.
Starting today, Facebook users in Australia and Taiwan are lucky enough to test it out. Are you jealous? Will you use the sidebar status? Let me know what you think by posting in the comments below.