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Sunday, September 25, 2011


For as much as he's invested in sharing, though, Zuckerberg seems clueless about the motivation behind the act. Why do you share a story, video, or photo? Because you want your friends to see it. And why do you want your friends to see it? Because you think they'll get a kick out of it. I know this sounds obvious, but it's somehow eluded Zuckerberg that sharing is fundamentally about choosing. You experience a huge number of things every day, but you choose to tell your friends about only a fraction of them, because most of what you do isn't worth mentioning.
--Farhad Manjoo (Slate), Not Sharing Is Caring: Facebook's terrible plan to get us to share everything we do on the Web

Now and again (by which I mean all the time), a website will ask me if I'd like to log on with my Facebook account. I almost invariably way no. Maybe this is a little paranoid of me, but I mostly don't link things to Facebook. I'm afraid that it will broadcast what I'm looking at, what I'm buying, what I'm reading, without letting me vet first which things get shared. And that makes me uncomfortable. I'm a fairly open person in a lot of ways, but I really don't want to share indiscriminately. If I'm going to provide too much information, I want it to be because I chose to overshare. And I don't really want to be shared with indiscriminately, either. Pick. Choose. Think. I am, in fact, quite a fan of this type of discrimination. Don't be the one who forwards emails without any thought to whether or not I'll actually get anything (useful information, pleasure, etc) from reading the message you're sending. Don't be the one who replies all when replying to one will do.

Mark Zuckerberg and the team over at Facebook do not agree with me.
This last week, my flist was all abuzz about the new "ticker" on Facebook, a combination of annoyance at being forced to get that level of information about people (as far as I know, it can't be turned off, and what filtering if possible involves a lot of work on the user's part) and scrolling privacy violation (things that were not publicized on the wall or the news feed suddenly being tickered). I don't like it, but I'm mostly just ignoring it. I'll probably ask some friends what they're seeing about me in their tickers, just so I know. My instinct is that it's like a reply-all button, built into the Facebook interface. Great.

These two articles are not about the ticker. Not directly, anyway -- one of them does mention it, and suggests that the ticker is a lead-up to the next thing we'll probably hate at Facebook, "real-time" updates from various Facebook-enabled apps and websites. Or, in layman's terms, an even easier way to overshare.

In the old world of Facebook, I would have to click that I "liked" a song for it to show up on my Facebook profile page. That's something you have to think about: "OK, I really like this song, and I really want all of my friends to know that I'm listening to it right now." Now, sharing is both passive and automatic. It's a choice you make in advance -- one time -- and never again.

--John Sutter (CNN), With 'real-time' apps, Facebook is always watching (CNN)

This is a nightmare, but not for the reasons you might suspect. I don't hate this new model because of its lack of "privacy," or due to Facebook's clear financial interest in collecting my personal information. Zuckerberg stressed that these apps require users' consent to start auto-sharing; for me, that's enough privacy protection. And I don't begrudge Facebook making tons of money from what people do on its site—if people enjoy Facebook enough to keep coming back, the site should be free to make as much money as it can get. 
My problem with "frictionless sharing" is much more basic: Facebook is killing taste.
Manjoo (Slate), Not Sharing...

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