Facebook has recently launched its ‘trending news’ feature front and centre of your timelines, which in my opinion, works to silence opinion rather than stimulate it.
The new feature gives me unprecedented access to what my friends are reading online, albeit in the gated community of apps released by newspapers and online news sites.
I am wholly opposed to sharing what I have read on Facebook, not because I don’t want people to know what I’m consuming online, it is just that I don’t feel comfortable sharing my consumption in that context.
Context is everything
Sharing with the world that you have read an article online is a statement, no matter how seemingly insignificant
These social apps also like Facebook gather their data from when you open the page, not from when you have finished reading a page. That means they can generate their lovely figures via a game of ‘how many people can we make click the link’.
The influence of the tag line, exclaiming that 5 of your friends have read the news story is often enough for you to have a look yourself, and subsequently the process snowballs.
What we need is an ‘ironically’ button. i.e
‘James read “The Daily Mail” — ironically
Also, thanks to Facebook’s recent change to allow information to be shared to ‘subscribers’, anyone can access information on the stories you choose to read by default.
My biggest problem with the system is that it becomes more than sharing. Sharing an article is used as a tool of social status. Like choosing the all the information on your status, you are representing your personal online brand. Facebook is already looking like it’s going to move into EPOS systems UK-wide, with plans for a phone on the way and technology for contactless payments in place — it could gain access to pretty much as much consumer data as it liked!
As social sharing trends escalate there has been a similar impact on the importance of information privacy in your professional life.
It is now widely accepted that employers have the power to terminate your employment if you choose to post derogatory views. Fair enough.
Also, third party is not good for growth. Having to allow ‘apps’ from all the news sites access to your Facebook profile is not something that I have any inclination in doing. I hate Facebook apps. You are advised to keep an eye out on what information an app asks for when you authorise it but most terms are meaningless. Authorising ‘personal information’ from your profile might as well be giving the developer your username, password and urine sample.
Slowly, my Facebook posts are drying up as I vet what is shared more closely than ever before.
Now, if like me, you read the news to keep up to date with the latest and greatest, you do so invariably end up using the information gleaned from newspapers and websites in your opinion. By sharing the exact same source with your entire group of friends, that’s not going to end up a very interesting conversation at all.
The Future of Facebook — The Face Library
I am worried Facebook will turn into more of a media consumption diary for advertisers to harvest rather than a sharing site.
James read an extract from the Times — he was mystified by some of the long words. He looked them up online.
James watched The One Show on BBC iPlayer — with indifference
James logged off of Facebook — he checked it on his phone 7 minutes later, and again 4 minutes after that.
See, not very interesting.
By all means read news online, please read it all — but just stop clogging up my timeline with news stories about reality TV stars, I’m struggling to find my funny cat videos!
James Duval is a tech freak who writes about emerging brands and online culture.