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Facebook revolt: Not all friends are equal

? What's Google's algorithm for ferreting out "racism" in Portuguese? |


| Online reviews, a couple of links ?

September 06, 2006

Facebook revolt: Not all friends are equal

Stephen Baker

The revolt against Facebook's new news feed feature is growing by the thousands, minute by minute. A boycott is scheduled for Sept. 12. (ex Frank Gruber) CEO Mark Zuckerman is probably right: For many, it's probably a nice feature to have feeds on what friends are up to.

The trouble is that all "friends" are not equal. Think about your various address lists. You have a huge one for email, another one on your cell phone, and a third for instant chat. And if you're in a social network, that's a fourth. Each group of friends and contacts has its own levels of protocol and intimacy. I would be horrified if all of my e-mail contacts started popping up in chat. I'm betting that the Facebook revolters wouldn't mind their news going to a certain number of handpicked friends. But others are friends on a different level. Facebook has some tweaking to do.

09:42 AM


What's worse is when these "just met" casual acquaintances can track you. In a virtual world like Second Life this has proven problematic (and has resulted in "alts" just so that people can maintain some anonymity). Of greater interest is that with some of the RFID tech out there making its way into businesscards, this could be a bigger issue than developers realize. Imagine being handed a businesscard that was a tracer. Or giving one to someone you just met that could be linked back to your location. Uncomfortable thought.

This is one of those times when I'm happy to say I often use the word "acquaintance" instead of "friend".

Posted by: csven at September 6, 2006 01:43 PM

Agreed with your comments about each medium having a different set of social rules. What i would like is some kind of unifying format where i control where those rules are used and with whom. One place i am starting to see this is at

Posted by: David at September 6, 2006 01:57 PM

For non-facebook users who want to find discussion of this new feature (and can't look at the discussion in the facebook groups) there is activity at the Facebook discussion room

Posted by: Richard Price at September 6, 2006 02:03 PM

Steve, and others for that matter -

I just started a group called "Students *For* The New Facebook".

For one, as best I can tell, no one else has, which is surprising.

Secondly, I actually think, as you note here, that current facebookers just don't see how beneficial this can be on a site like Facebook.

Of course, I was only able to invite 60 people (I'm in no way an avid facebooker), so no telling if it'll spread.

Maybe you can help get the word out.

Posted by: Michael Haydel at September 6, 2006 04:29 PM

the "groups" Facebooks folks are forming grow funnier by the hour. A sampling from my profile: Facebook Facelift Sucks; Mini-feeds are awesome; I hate Facebook's News Feed and I miss the old Facebook; facebook is now creepy; We ? Facebook's "Feed"

The great thing about the newsfeed from my perspective is that it exposes anything I might be looking to know about my interns, the only group of people I know on Facebook. Two of them are flirting like crazy by posting on their walls, for example. Another turned down an invitation to a dinner for a somewhat radical political student group. (Who knew?) Yet another had a friend who identified her in some seriously boisterous photographs, and since her name was on them, she turned up in my feed. This information was always there before, but I would have had to go looking for it. Now, I just log on. But man, someone should tell the interns I'm watching.

Posted by: Jessi Hempel at September 6, 2006 05:00 PM

Here is a live counter of the number of people who have joined the "Students against Facebook News Feed" group on Facebook..... 300,000 and climbing

Posted by: Steve at September 6, 2006 05:41 PM

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