Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Get Ready for Facebook Riot #297

Judging by the lack of outrage and backlash that normally accompanies a major Facebook feature launch, I’m guessing that most of my friends haven’t noticed the new “relationship analysis” feature that showed up this morning. Notice the new link that appears under my friend Debbie’s Facebook profile photo, inviting me to “View You and Debbie”:

Clicking this link shows me a full page of information on who our mutual friends are, the Pages we both “Like,” anything we’ve posted on each other’s Walls, any photos in which we’ve both been tagged (Facebook will even display one of these photos prominently in the top-left corner, like a profile photo), comments we’ve made on each other’s status updates, and more. It’s basically a clickable summary of all my Facebook interactions with Debbie Sem.

And it goes further. There’s a “Browse Friendships” link in the top-right corner that allows me to view this relational summary between two other people – Debbie and her mom, for example. In fact, we now have access to a set of search boxes that lets people search for and see all of the interactions between any two people they're friends with on Facebook.

Clearly, this new feature doesn’t override Facebook’s privacy features, meaning that whatever content is posted utilizing any sort of privacy setting, will still only be viewable according to those settings. And it’s important to remember that anyone you’re not connected to (friends with) on Facebook does not have the ability to view your Facebook interactions with another person.

So, while I don’t think it’s necessarily a hot new stalking tool, it does provide an easy way to analyze relationships between the people you know. For business people utilizing Facebook as a more social version of LinkedIn, having that sort of relational information at-a-glance could prove extremely useful.

My guess is that we’ll see a solid week or two of protest, and then there will be a collective resignment to this new level of transparency.

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