Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 6, 2011
by now most of you that are on Facebook have probably seen your version of the image you see in this post asking you if you want to allow people to subscribe to things you have to say there or not. It’s kind of a strange thing because I’m trying to figure out why anyone would want to subscribe to the different things some of us have to say. But it turned out to be a bigger issue than I initially thought.
One of the major issues I’ve always had when it comes to Facebook is that little news stream they have there. You basically always had two options. The first option was Facebook automatically making the determination as to what it considered newsworthy from all of the people you’re connected with and giving you that stuff from the newest of the oldest. The second option was your being able to click telling it you wanted everything that anyone you followed posted on Facebook, once again from the newest to the oldest.
Neither option has ever been all that good. I don’t think anybody ever liked the fact that Facebook was going to try to tell them what was news for people they were connected with. At the same time the other option might never allow you to see certain posts and certain people if you happen not to be on Facebook at the same time. Because I keep such strange hours I missed a lot of things that people I knew were saying. A couple of times what was really news wasn’t ever shared with me and if some people hadn’t been paying attention to other things I said I’d never found out about it; that just doesn’t cut it.
So Facebook came up with the subscribe thing. What it allows people to do is go through their list and decide who they want to make sure they see whatever it is they have to post. That means if you’re following 500 people but you really only want to see what 15 of them have to say you can select those 15 without anybody else knowing that you’re not following them as closely. Also, those 15 people don’t know that you’re following them unless you tell them. The problem with that is that now Facebook is open it up so that a person can follow anybody they see fit the following without that person knowing they’re being followed.
For most of us that’s not going to pose a problem, but for some people it is. For instance, how many women are suddenly going to be followed by stalkers who don’t have to go through the game of asking someone to “friend” them, thus giving them the option to block somebody? Facebook doesn’t take this into consideration; instead, what they’re trying to do is get around the limit that they created of how many people someone is allowed to have as a friend with this new option of being able to follow a stream and comment on it. This means that it will be easier for some of these people to follow celebrities, who probably created Facebook accounts only to communicate with their friends, and now suddenly has to worry once again about what they say on Facebook because they never know who’s listening.
Frankly that’s scary. Personally I don’t see this going to affect me that much, but I don’t always bring these things up because I’m worried about how they’re going to affect me. Still, I wonder if I’m being selfish to those friends of mine who want to keep up with me and block some of the noise of all these other people they’re connected with that they don’t know us well. It’s a double edged sword of the little modicum of control that one has with their Facebook account. While I would love to have my friends have the ability to add me to their list, I love the had the ability to know who’s following me and us block certain people if I needed to do so. It’s possible that there, but I haven’t read anywhere that it’s an option.
Luckily, Facebook hasn’t made me have to make a decision yet. So every time I pop on to Facebook I immediately see the image you see above. I get ignored for a while, but I know based on history that at some point I’m going to have to make a decision or they’re going to make it for me, and we both know the decision they’re going to make. But I’m just not sure which direction I want to go yet.
For those of you that are on Facebook, since it makes no sense to ask someone who’s not on Facebook their opinion, what do you think? What have you done? I’d really like to know, and thanks upfront for your response.