Commentary

Keep Your Close Friends, Even Closer!

Too Much?

While admiring how cool my profile picture was, a fellow co-worker called my attention to the change of Facebook's interface. Being on Facebook for much of my online life, I didn't notice much until I refreshed the page to see a brand new feature, little text! "Now check this out," he said. "Go to a friend's page, any friend. Under any comment between you and your friend, click see friendship. It's pretty creepy man."

I was soon looking at every form of communication between myself and my friend: posts, comments, pictures, videos, events, mutual friends, even friendships between you or your friend, or your friend and other mutual friends! That's just too many friends.

At First

I was scared. This crosses borderline creepy for sure. What were these people thinking? Can they openly share this information between people so publicly?

Of course, you have to all be friends to see the relationships, but I know people with the sole aim of having as many Facebook friends as possible, and for these "social butterflies" to have such extensive creeping capabilities, well, I'm a bit jealous. Despite some ethical questioning, Facebook's friendship browser covers close to everything everyone wants to know about everyone.

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If you have a good analytical sense, you could pretty much fill in the gaps between certain friendships, and that is a wonderful tool isn't it? Facebook went from micro-creeping (separate profiles), to macro-creeping (whole interactions between multiple profiles). There are no new capabilities here, just massive amounts of easy to reach information in front of your eyes. How remarkably resourceful, and remarkably creepy!

He wants to be friends!

The Dark Places of Our Minds

Despite the infinite amount of valuable information one can gather from such a utility, I'm leaning on a traditional sense of privacy. I don't think this is a good idea at all. In fact, this only motivates Facebook users to spend even more time on the site, searching through their friends' relationships with others, and being incredibly nosy. I don't like what this is providing people because the only use I see out of this can only relate to where someone was last night, or how a couple's status really reflects how they're doing. Of course, one could present the argument that academics could use this feature to show the research they're sharing, or the conferences they're attending, but I've learned academics don't really use Facebook, and I don't think that they will because of this new feature. This new feature is vastly a social networking thing, which makes sense, but when is knowing so much about people too much?

Explore this Article on WTF?

As seen from the disapproval shared by many of the commentators of the linked article, I wonder if this may be a potential downfall of Facebook. I think it reasonable from historical evidence that the bigger an empire gets, the harder it becomes to maintain the happiness of everyone within. Though Facebook will be popular for a very long time, it's good to see that I'm not alone here.

I just hope that future applications similar to Twitter will break farther away from social networking, and closer to information sharing. After all, though we humans are definitely social beings, we are also knowledge seekers. Focus on one over the other changes the definition of human a bit, and I'm seeing a trend towards digital socializing. I just hope that the desire for learning can be integrated in some way that combats the demand for mindless social interests. Twitter has been a good step towards that, but as always, people will always abuse power.

Next blog post: Twitter posting, and is there a limit to consecutive posts?

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