I recently crossed 1,000 friends on Facebook. Am I actually friends with a thousand people? No. Not even close. If I were using Facebook to only be in contact with people I consider myself at least somewhat close to, I’d probably have more like 100 friends. Maybe less.
For a long time I haven’t cared about using Facebook in this restricted way because I’ve basically been using it like Twitter — which is to say, with the assumption that just about everything is public (and I have a filter for the few things I don’t want public). The problem I’ve been encountering though is a massive amount of quasi-spam.
Many of the people that I follow that I don’t really know seem to love to auto-suggest that I become a fan of some bullshit page that they’re in some way affiliated with. Most of these things they’re suggesting I’ve never even heard of. I ignore every single one of these every time. Yet, they keep coming, every day. More and more.
Had I not accepted them as friends, they wouldn’t be able to bombard me with this shit. But I did. And so they can.
Yes, that’s my own fault, but it has me thinking about Facebook at a high level. As the company continues to move to make more of its users’ data available to the public, I think it’s time to simply allow people to follow other people without the need for reciprocation.
This way people would be free to follow me, but if I don’t follow them back, they can’t send me requests for things like signing up for their page.
Yes, it’s basically the same model Twitter has. (You can follow me, but unless I follow you, you can’t DM me.) But it would be potentially more useful with Facebook because of all the different things you can do (beyond just messaging) on that service.
Yes, I know that this is why Facebook created Pages. But, aside from brands that want to use these, this model is crap.
Why should I have to actively stay on top of two different profiles (my profile and a fan page, or whatnot) when I should just need one unified source of the information I want to put on Facebook?
Obviously, I understand that implementing this is infinitely harder than I’m making it out to be due to the nearly 500 million users that already are on the service and have their social graph intact. But I’d love to see this happen.
And I think this could solve some of the privacy issues that Facebook seems to encounter on monthly basis now.
One big problem, as I see it, is that Facebook’s privacy settings are entirely too convoluted. I think I’m a pretty savvy guy, and I can’t figure out what all the different settings mean.
At a high level, if you had privacy settings for Followers vs. Friends, I think this would make things much easier to understand. You could still have all the detailed privacy filters for groups and whatnot, but that would only be for more power users. Having one key Followers vs. Friends batch of settings would simplify things greatly.
The Friends stuff would be mostly private by default. The Followers stuff, could then be entirely public by default — just as Facebook now clearly wants most stuff to be.
Again, it’s all easier said than done, but doesn’t that sound a billion times better than the privacy clusterfuck system Facebook currently has in place? I think so.