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Almost Better September 7, 2006

Posted by eric22222 in General.

Currently listening to: “Daring Daylight Escape” by Caedmon’s Call

To be perfectly frank, I’m not posting out of an overflowing desire to tell the world my opinions. This is more of a post to say “I’m not dead.” I’ve been sick since late Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday being the worst of it. I apologize if I seemed uninterested in talking to you over this past week. I assure you, it won’t last much longer. This sickness did give me a greater appreciation for my new major. In architecture, I’d have to play catch-up for the remainder of the semester. Computer science seems much more forgiving. I’m actually learning quite a bit in my one CS class. I’ve already made several C programs, though we haven’t gotten far at all. Things are looking up.

I almost broke down and started posting the new Zach Amazing episodes today, but I resisted. I’ve already promised myself I won’t post them until the first season is done. I’m more than halfway done with rewriting the old episodes. I want to make sure there’s nothing I need to change before I post them, though.

In accordance with my resolution of substance in all posts, I thought of something to post about: the “new” Facebook. For those that don’t know about Facebook, it’s a social networking site similar to MySpace. It was originally open only to college students, but now includes high schoolers and alum. It allows you to enter things like favorite movies and books, a short description of oneself, and even class schedules. You can link to other people from there, seeing a list of everyone who is in your class, likes the same book as you, or lives in the same dorm.

Recently, Facebook added a feature known as the Feed. It alerts you to all the updates your friends have recently made. Until then, anyone wanting know what had changed about a person’s profile would need to spend hours scanning each friends’ profile and pictures, looking for any updates. The Feed doesn’t change the availablility of information, just how public it is. Commenting on a picture, for example, could easily pass under the radar of “old” Facebook, but is broadcasted to all your friends under this new system.

The response was immediate and, for the most part, negative. People feel Facebook suddenly became “creepy,” even Orwellian. I for one, don’t feel as though much has changed. All the information could be found before, but now no one has to spend hours researching changes (and I know people that did that). For those people, they can have their lives back. For those that didn’t have time to do that much sleuthing, they now have access to as much information as the Facebook addicts.

But, so that you can see for yourself how this works, I’ll give you an example of the feed. I don’t want you to form your opinion based on mine:

  • Michael commented on a blog post of mine
  • 13 of my friends joined the group “Students against Facebook News Feed”
  • Jason wished Justin a happy birthday
  • Ysterday at 6:03 PM, Casey reported that he had an upset stomach
  • Audrey added some photos of the Look Rock devo

See, all of this information was already available. Now we know about it. Me? I’m not creeped out by it. I think it’s cool. For those that don’t want their private information posted on the internet, why did you join Facebook in the first place?



1. jon sharp - September 9, 2006

I don’t quite agree. One could find out your social security number or credit card number through a bit of sleuthing. It is quite different to have this information volunteered to others without their knowing.
The purpose of facebook is for social networking…connecting with new friends and reconnecting with old ones. Granted all the information that the new Facebook Feed publishes could have been accessed earlier. I don’t think it is appropriate to share every move someone makes in the Facebook world. Facebook is about social networking..not stalking.

2. Justin - September 9, 2006

I’m with Eric on this one. My recent post was on how the feed feature had a flaw that would allow violation of a user’s privacy settings. This has been fixed now. Speaking as someone that knows a little bit more about computers than your average user, its a great thing for load balancing. Instead of looking at several different profiles to get that kind of information (server having to serve up all those pages), the information is now presented to the user in one aggregated request.

Was Facebook a little premature in launching the Feed and Mini-Feed? Yes, but within a day, they had the privacy flaws fixed and users have control over items that they appear in the news feed. You have the choice to forgive them and continue using, or don’t forgive them and delete your account. Pretty simple. It’s only a stalker’s paradise if you are friends with a stalker.

Orkut (google’s social networking site) shows the last 5 people that accessed your profile. In turn, it will show other people when you access their profile (if you make their last five). They have the option to turn it off. If you do, you no longer get to see the last 5 people to access your profile. Since a lot of the social networking sites tend to add features found in others, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Facebook added a feature like that in the near future.

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