Facebook’s Frictionless Sharing Is Bad For You

Wed, Feb 1, 2012

Articles, Facebook, Rants, Social Media

The term “slippery slope” gets thrown around a lot these days, but I feel that I’ve finally found a situation where it can be justly used. Facebook’s increasingly automatic sharing of users content is a troubling development for social media, and for more than the fact that you can now see just how many times your significant other listens to the Insane Clown Posse. If this trend continues, it will have a large negative effect on social sharing, and the way that we browse the internet. Here are the reasons why:

1) The Open Graph will Get You Accustomed to Sharing Everything, and That’s a Bad Thing

For Facebook to continue to grow, two things need to happen: More people need to share more information, and that information must be sold to advertisers with increasingly targeted precision. Since more information shared means more data available to sell, priority number one for Facebook is to increase the amount of information shared at any cost. Problem is, there is a maximum extent to which people will share information, that is unless there is a system put in place that automates sharing without a prompt from the user.



Enter frictionless sharing, the natural followup to the prompted sharing from previous Facebook applications. Instead of having the option to share new content as it’s created, you agree for the app to post to your news ticker at the start of the authentication process. Now Facebook users don’t have to spend any time sharing their activities, they just need to focus on reading articles and finding new music on Spotify. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does get people in the habit of sharing all the details of their personal life on Facebook without thinking twice. First comes music, then news articles, then something else after that. Before you know it, letting an application post to your timeline is commonplace, and you no longer think about the kind of content you are sharing with your friends and, even worse, with advertisers.

2) Facebook Sharing Will Either Embarrass You or Cause You To Change Your Browsing Habits

One of the great ironies about the internet is that it’s extremely public, yet also extremely private. Frictionless sharing blurs the differences between those two facets, and the results are not pretty. Imagine if every google search you did was shared with your friends. How many of your daily searches would you be comfortable sharing, and how many people do you think would be offended if they saw them come up in their news feed? When the choice to share is not in the user’s hands, the choice becomes either to throw caution to the wind, or to self-censor your internet habits, both of which do great harm to the user.

3) Advertisers Will Have Even More Data About You.

Facebook advertisers already have a creepily large amount of personal data about you, but imagine how much more they would have if every part of your internet behavior was aggregated into one place. With the current frictionless sharing model, Facebook’s reach could even extend beyond the internet and into the real world. Imagine if Spotify replaced iTunes for a majority of music listeners, or if a service like Google wallet had Facebook integration. Online advertisers would get to look into people’s actual lives and personal habits, and the self-censoring of frictionless sharing could occur in all aspects of our day to day lives. Even if we live in an increasingly smaller and more social world, there needs to be some places without interference or surveillance, if only for people to have the privacy to listen to Katy Perry’s latest single on repeat.

Let me know what you think about Frictionless sharing, I’m always interested in hearing what other people have to say on controversial topics such as this. Sound off in the comments if you want your opinion heard.




Mr.  David Benson is a social media analyst and coffeephile. He currently lives in New York City and works as an analyst for Mashwork, a social media analytics company.

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  1. Welcome to the Cultural Singularity - October 19, 2012

    […] viewed and disseminated by all. Add to this the idea of frictionless sharing, popularized by Facebook’s open graph, and you see the direction that culture is going: the effort of expression will be removed and all […]

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