1. The Facebook is Following Me

    brian on 2007.11.12
    at 02:14 pm

    This morning I went to get doughnuts at a local bakery. After I was done enjoying them, I went to to review the place, since I had read good reviews there and wanted to reciprocate.

    When I was done with the review and hit publish, I got a strange AJAXian popup crawl up on the bottom right corner of my browser window, in a familiar light-grey and blue hue.

    Yelp has sent this story to your Facebook profile.

    Oh, really? And how does Yelp know I have a Facebook profile, and when did they ask me if I was interested in allowing this in the first place?

    I headed to Facebook directly.

    At the top of the page, there was a notification in my news feed that Yelp wanted to send the story to Facebook. So it seems it had not yet made it on my page. There was a learn more link, so I did:

    You do all sorts of interesting things on the internet […]
    There’s no reason that actions like these wouldn’t be as interesting to your friends as the fact that you added a new photo album to Facebook. This is why we’ve created a mechanism by which other websites can, with your permission, publish stories into your Mini-Feed, and potentially into the News Feeds of your friends.

    Oh, really? The good news I found was this:

    If you are logged in to Facebook and take an action on an affiliated site, the website will alert you that it has a story it would like to send to your Facebook profile. You can then choose to take the following actions…

    Which include opting out of sending the story right then and there. Every time a site wishes to send a story, it must ask you first. In fact, there are two layers of privacy here, you can set a global Yes or No on Facebook for the sites that can send data, plus, you’ll always be notified by the affiliate site the moment they are about to send the story (which can then actually be detained by Facebook for your second approval if you so choose). So there are lots of controls to this possibly very cool and/or very invasive new feature.

    My take: Facebook may have another news feed fiasco on its hands. I was pretty startled by the unanticipated popup telling me some random site I was just on was reporting my actions to Facebook. My reaction was, in fact…

    Excuse me?

    Without letting me know ahead of time that this affiliate site program had begun, I had a strong sense of Big Brother. How did this site know I had a profile? Why is Facebook following me around the Internet? I’m thinking others may have a similar reactions.

    The second connection to the News Feed drama is that it is still a very cool feature – but the initial release was a communications failure!

    Posted in: Web


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