We've had the ability to make "Friends" on the site for a while now, but admittedly, there hasn't been much behind it. Friends could comment on each other's profile, and that's about it. But we've always believed that if we could provide a really compelling experience for friends dieting together, the site would be much more effective at helping you lose weight. Having the support of your friends and family can make all the difference when you are doing something as difficult as making a permanent lifestyle change.
So last night, we launched a new set of features that we hope will make it easier for friends and family to easily track each other's progress and support and motivate one another. Your My Home page now includes a News Feed which shows activity from your MyFitnessPal friends. If you become Friends with someone on MyFitnessPal, your News Feed will show:
- when they've lost weight so you can congratulate them!
- blog posts and message board topics they've posted so you can share your thoughts
- if they haven't logged onto the site in a while so you can motivate them to stay on track
- any status updates they want to share
- when they've "Completed their day"
As we were building the new features, one of our main concerns was privacy. So all of your activity is visible ONLY by your MyFitnessPal friends. If you are not friends with someone on the site, they will not be able to see your recent activity on your profile, and your updates will not appear in their news feed. The only small exception is that, if a friend comments on someone's status, you'll be able to see that one status item only, even if you are not friends with them. But the rest of their activity will remain private.
The idea is that your activity will only be shared with the people that you trust and want to support you. If you don't want someone to see your activity, just remove them from your friends list, or don't add them in the first place - it's that easy.
FOCUSED ON POSITIVE NEWS
We also wanted to make sure that the main focus of the News Feed was on sharing successes, not failures. So, for example, if you Complete Your Day and you are under your net calorie goal, we'll share that in your activity feed. But if you are over, nothing will appear at all. Activity updates will also be displayed if you lose weight - but if you gain weight, nothing will be shared, even with your friends. We didn't want people to worry about becoming friends with someone on the site and feeling "ashamed" if something negative got shared in their feed. Becoming friends with someone on the site should only be a positive experience.
We did make one exception to that rule: if you haven't logged onto the site for a while, we'll send an update out to your friends letting them know that you might need encouragement. Study after study has shown that continuing to keep a food diary is extremely effective at losing weight, and we strongly believe that if you track your meals and exercise on MyFitnessPal for long enough, you'll eventually reach your goals. So we felt it was important enough to help people stay on track that we should let their friends know when they might have fallen off the wagon.
MORE TO COME
We'll be watching to see how people are using the News Feed and, going forward, we'll definitely be fine-tuning it to make sure the right amount, and the right type of information is flowing through it.
So please, let us know what you think! As always, we love to hear your feedback.
Thanks, and hope you are all enjoying the site.
Mike & Al