Facebook Feature Request: Privacy and Tags

This is essentially the issue of the Friends of Friends post. In this case, I am not really interested in expanding the audience.

Say I publish a friends only post. Victor, my friend, makes a comment tagging Roberta, not my friend, and asks a question directed at her. She is not notified about the tag. Nor can she see the comment or post.

Therefore, in my mind, allowing the tag to be done is counterproductive. Facebook should warn Victor that Roberta cannot see it. Ideally it would be ahead of time and prevent it. Less acceptable, but I would be happier is after the fact having a “Roberta cannot see this” notice. (The “Who can see this?” thing is vague and not generally very helpful clarifying exactly who can see it.)

Troll Facebook Button

Sometimes I want to leave a comment but not actually enter the Facebook conversation. For that, I want a “Facebook Troll” comment browser extension.

The idea is that it could allow me to post the comment and automatically turn off notifications for that post.

Pretty sure replies would still notify me.

Ironically enough, the same feature would be useful for engagements, death announcements, marriages, and other posts where I just want to leave a comment but not have to deal with notifications about anyone else leaving a comment. So 90% of use cases could be a “Congrats!” button or a “Sorry for your loss.” button.

Buffer Feature Requests

Dual Window

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ have significantly different character number restrictions than Twitter. Naturally, Twitter limits posts to their notorious 140 characters. LinkedIn allows 700, and Google+ / Facebook allow about five thousand.

I like to post things with a quote from the articles I share that captures what I found most interesting about it. Generally, they fall between 200 to 200 characters. Too long for Twitter, which means I editorialize it to make it fit.

Something amazing about the Pocket tool to share to Buffer is it provides two different textareas. One for Facebook and one for everything else. Brilliant! So much so, that I am tempted to completely change my workflow to push anything I want to share to Pocket just so I can share it with Buffer in a way that makes sense. On Facebook the preview URL appears to Pocket rather than the actual destination which slightly bothers me because I’d prefer the source to get attribution.

Tumblr

It would be nice to be able to share to Tumblr through Buffer. It seems odd that Buffer would support App.net who has been dying for years and will finally be gone in 6 weeks yet not one of the larger social networks?

Facebook Comment Chat Box Pop-ups

Well, it came true for me. Facebook pushed to me the new feature of comment threads appearing in a chat box.

I hate the chat box on Facebook. I keep an open tab for messages for ongoing conversations specifically because that seems to suppress the chat box. I do not mind the notifications at the top right, but ruining screen real estate by blocking what I am reading that makes me have to close the box in order to finish? No thanks. That is an unnecessary interruption to what I was doing. It makes me more likely to ignore the message because I am determined to finish what I was doing.

The comments chat box keeps a count of how many unread have come through it. So, basically, in the top right I get a notification AND a second notification at the bottom for the. Same. Exact. Thing. Fortunately, it does appear if I check the chat box comments, then they simultaneously disappear from the top. But, if I make the mistake of checking new comments via the top in a new tab as is my normal operation, then I still have to read them in the chat box. Closing the chat box does not clear the unread.

Even when I have closed all the conversations, if I navigate to another page, then it returns and I have to close the open one just to be able to read the page. Again, my normal method of reading is to open notifications in new tabs. Then close the tab when I have consumed the new content. That basically opens a bunch of these chat boxes I have to close. Essentially, Facebook only wants us reading comments in these chat boxes and not by opening new tabs.

There is a “Hide this tab” option which asks if I want to also disable notifications for that post. I was initially confused and hit disable which means I no longer get anything about that conversation. I now hit keep. That does get me back to where I want to be with only having the single notification for comments. But, only for posts I have already handled. I will have to go through this process again for every single conversation on Facebook which is ridiculous. I may have to just not comment on anything new or post anything else until I have a permanent fix. OK, that is hyperbolic, but I will limit engagements with others until it is solved.

I tried to disable this new feature in the user interface, but naturally Facebook is on to us and did not provide a way to do so. They want us to have to become used to it before we are given the ability to restore our now bad habits. People turned off chat back when they introduced it. The help page on it is full of people complaining about this new feature.

F.B.Purity has not yet caught up to this feature. The “Hide Chat Box” gets rid of the Messenger box not the comment one.

Crowdsourcing Bias Identification

Zittrain’s set of tweets was interesting reading.

Lots more on it: best1, 2, 3.

There is an interesting plug-in called Media Bias/Fact Check which will help show how a news site skews. Before you rush off to use it, you should like I did review their methodology to ensure you can reasonably trust it.

My one issue with it is a crowdsourcing component where each site they review has a PollDaddy widget. PollDaddy like any other similar thing tries to prevent multiple voting, but that security relies on cookies, so if I wanted to skew the poll and say make Snopes appear extreme right, it is not all that difficult to vote, delete the cookie, vote, delete, etc. A possible example is MBFC marks Palmer Report as “left center” while the poll shows Extreme Left=76, Left=36, Left Center=44, Least Biased=26, Extreme Right=2. There appears to be some disagreement between those polled and the reviewers. The polls are not pulled into the plug-in database and instead used by humans to review whether they should revisit a prior determination. So MBFC cannot be directly manipulated through the polls.

Back around 2003 spam was really, really bad. Work had not yet devised an anti-spam solution, so I turned to an interesting client plug-in where users marked messages as spam. If enough users marked a message as spam, then the sender was blacklisted and anything from them sent to a junk folder. The dark side to this model? Some people interpreted “spam” as any email they did not want to receive. Several email lists or legitimate advertisers with easy and functional unsubscribe tools were blacklisted. It was easier for people to hit spam than do the right thing.

The wisdom of crowds has very narrow applications.

But a look at recent cases and new research suggests that open-innovation models succeed only when carefully designed for a particular task and when the incentives are tailored to attract the most effective collaborators.

So I appreciate that MBFC has a firewall between the crowdsourcing and their reviews. But, that also means their method is very, very labor intensive. Sites will be very slow to be added.

Facebook is talking about removing fake news. Some are calling for them to so something like MBFC and help users understand what they are reading. Back in May they removed their editors who were in charge of doing essentially the MBFC of thing of reviewing and ensuring what ended up in Trending was good material and writing summaries. These editors were accused of bias. When Facebook replaced them, fake news immediately started showing up in Trending. Removing fake news could help, but how they go about it could be interesting. Their editor debacle could push them in the algorithm route, but their algorithm debacle could push them back toward editors. Maybe some mix of the two?

Friends of Friends

Occasionally friends will see something they like and tag another friend in a comment. In general, I have a privacy level of Friends on my posts. Non-mutual friends are not able to see these tags. I knew about and disliked these options:

  1. Leave it alone. The friend’s friend has no idea the post exists unless someone says something off Facebook.
  2. Tell my friend. Maybe if the friend is technical they get it right away. Otherwise, I may have to spend lots of time explaining privacy.
  3. Make the privacy level Public. Then anyone can see it. I have considered this acceptable a few times because I would not mind it being public so I did change the privacy level. My use of Friends is a safe, conservative default. There are probably things set to Friends that I would not mind being Public, but I have not bothered to make it so.
  4. Friend the tagged person. That seems creepy and weird as a solution to allowing someoto view a post.

I just realized there might be another option. Setting these posts with non-mutual friends tagged in a comment  could be the compromise I need. Changing the privacy level to FoF which would allow their friend to see it while also not making the post public. Given my number of friends, this probably is a giant number of people, but not as bad as public.

A better idea of how many and who are in my Friends of Friends might be nice. The easy way to look at them is a search for “People who I may know.” Getting a count from this is tougher.

I have seen others use a Friends of Friends permission but not often. It is not in the main list of permissions which are Public, Friends, and Only Me. Going into More Options there is Friends Except Acquaintances, Custom, and the giant number of lists I once created when I was more serious about ensuring my posts were targeted to my various friends.1 It turned out Friends of Friends can be used by going into More Options > Custom > and typing in “Share with: These people or lists” the name “Friends of Friends.”

Of course, it also leads to Facebook worrying that I know what I am doing:

Ezra, it looks like someone who isn’t your friend recently liked one of your posts. We want to make sure you know who can see the things you post. To learn more, check out Privacy Basics.

1. The so many lists were difficult to maintain as I would have to seriously consider who should be in which lists and make sure that people were placed in the correct ones. That was hard enough when it was about 300 friends and a couple dozen lists. With almost 900 friends and about 50 groups, it is too complicated to maintain. I’d need to consolidate the lists to make it viable, but I have not been so willing.

TED Talk: Don’t like clickbait? Don’t click

Fake clickbait like The Onion is good. ALWAYS click on The Onion. I don’t care if you dislike their fake news stories. I enjoy them. 🙂

The algorithms choose which stories we see. If you dislike what you see, then you need to change what you click. My Facebook feed? It is chock full of science, soccer, TED talks, baby photos, wedding photos, and of late Star Wars. I rather like my feed, but it took discipline not to send messages about my interest in fear mongering, gossip, and hate. Tough, I know. But the results were so worth it. I’m no longer thinking of declaring bankruptcy on Facebook.

As Twitter and other social media succumb to algorithms to display stories, apparently I am going to have to use the same discipline avoiding clickbait elsewhere. I wonder about the mental discipline required to achieve and maintain the Internet experience I desire. Hopefully in achieving it I develop good habits I can maintain.

Anyway, Sally Kohn discusses how to get the social media we want by being smart on what we click.

 

Facebook Ads

FACEBOOK(LET) Back

I hide ads all the time as an attempt to improve my experience. (I also have gone through the Ad Preferences page to ensure I get what I want.) When I hide them, Facebook Ads offers a link titled “Why don’t you want to see this?” with various options clearly missing an obvious one. They have:

  • It’s not relevant to me
  • I keep seeing this
  • It’s offensive or inappropriate
  • It’s spam
  • Something else

The missing option is:

  • I already have it.

For example, I keep seeing an ads for a software package I already have. Over and over and over. I could mark “I keep seeing this.” But, really after the third or fourth time six months ago, I did try it, so persistence is probably warranted. Really, 50 times seeing it later, it seems pointless getting an ad for something I’ve had for months.

Photo from goiabarea on Flickr.

 

Almost Foiled by Facebook

A coworker asked me how long a certain song was playing in the lobby. I responded that I posted about it on Facebook and can find out from that.

Only I could not find it. I went to my page and hit End until I was too far back in time. Then I used the browser search to look for keywords. Nothing. More keywords. Other songs I about which I recalled getting lots of comments. Nothing.

Then I remembered Facebook defaults to showing Highlights. I had to change it to All Stories and do it again. That worked.

It is like they do not want us to be able to find anything.

Graph Search is okay. What would really be nice is being able to find that specific status update I want to reference. Maybe I need to go find a more archivist centric social network?

Face Recognition Obfuscation

Parents of young children posts lots and lots of photos on Facebook. Tags in the photos of their children are of either or both parents. Children under thirteen are not allowed on the site. Babies lack the motor control to operate a camera or computer. So expecting children to have their own identities on Facebook are probably unrealistic.

Now that Facebook attempts to identify photos of people automatically, boy is it confused with these parents. Underneath photos of a friend’s child, Facebook had the “Want to tag <parent’s name>? Yes No.” Um, no.

Those of wanting to go anonymous on Facebook and prevent suggestions for friends tagging you in photos, the solution is to create a photo bank of someone else you tag as yourself. Facebook will not know to tag you when a friend uploads a photo of you. Of course, you will want to prevent friends from tagging you too.