Facebook’s new pop-out image viewer

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Sometimes Facebook launches new features that must seem like trifles to its development team but then cause the constituency of more than 500m users a world of pain.

One of the tiny hassles of Facebook is viewing photo albums and then not being able to return easily to the profile on which you started – which will only get worse as the community grows, more photos are added and tagging becomes more widespread.

Knowing this and having launched a pop-out window for displaying videos, Facebook must have thought that the obvious choice would be to treat photos in the same way.

Launched yesterday, the pop-out photo gallery allows the user to browse photos, like and comment on them (oh, and see adverts), while the original profile is retained underneath.

It’s a nice little piece of functionality, but it has not been popular – most complaints have been about incompatibility with various browsers. That does need fixing.

Others have moaned about change. But you know what… whenever Facebook changes anything, there’s a tide of people who rebel, set up protest groups and call for boycotts. And after a couple of weeks they realise that Facebook was right all along and they get on with it.

Facebook’s smart move this time is asking people for their feedback. There’s a feature feedback form and the ability to switch back to the old Facebook image viewer. That should allow those who hate change to gag themselves and provide Facebook with useful information on the popularity of the feature.