Posted by: Jack Brown | September 26, 2011

The Real Problem With Facebook’s New “Ticker”

I will be posting less and less on Facebook until some changes are made to their new feature, the constantly-updating real-time news feed function called the “Ticker.” It seems that every single post, comment, and “like” I make on Facebook is now broadcast to my friends list regardless of my desires. Facebook presents this as an issue of privacy, their stock line is “We aren’t putting anything in the Ticker that isn’t already public on Facebook.” What they don’t understand is that it’s not a privacy issue really. It’s more of a comfort and control issue, where I believe I should have more say over how my interactions on Facebook are broadcast and displayed.

For example, suppose I have a second cousin once removed who lives in Nebraska. If I post something on his wall, it may well be public, but I think I have a reasonable expectation that the only people who will bother to read that post will be his other friends and family. I don’t expect every single one of my friends to pop by a total stranger’s page and read what I wrote. In the past when faced with situations like this, where I didn’t mind something being public but I also didn’t see a need for it to be shared with my friends, I would simply delete the “Posted to so-and-so’s Wall” that would appear on my profile and it was done with. But now, as I’ve already tested out, that apparently doesn’t work with the Ticker.

Another issue, one that is not as bothersome for me but certainly comes to mind, is that the Ticker broadcasts to the world, “Hey, so-and-so’s on Facebook RIGHT NOW!” Certainly there are times when we all would like to be on Facebook, but not have it broadcast to the world that we’re currently online. After all, Facebook gives us the opportunity to “hide” in the Chat feature, shouldn’t we be able to do the same for the Ticker as well?

Facebook tells me I shouldn’t post things I don’t want made public. That’s true. But I also think that I should have the ability to decide if something I post is transmitted to my entire friends list or not (and immediately, to boot). Facebook doesn’t seem to understand that just because something is publicly available doesn’t mean it needs to be broadcast to every corner of the earth. And for that reason, I will be using Facebook less and less until changes are made.

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Responses

  1. The fact that I, of a liberal bent, may try to discuss liberal issues on someone else’s post, and that my complete world of FB friends, avowed conservatives included, can see is stifling.

    We’re reduced to happy birthdays, comments on the weather, and quotations. Blah.

    • Absolutely. Highly sensitive issues like politics and spirituality really figure into this dilemma. If I post on someone’s wall, “I’m praying for you,” I can only imagine the response it provokes on my atheist friends’ faces as they watch it on the Ticker.

      Some folks will probably think, “Oh come on, are you saying you’re ashamed of prayer?” Absolutely not. But some of my friendships are built on the understanding that I do not ram my faith down their throat. Yes, we dialogue, but anything that threatens to put distance between them and me is worrisome. Such relationships are often tenuous at best, and I’ve seen things less innocuous than Facebook come between them.

  2. I like the new facebook. Really fun! Everything was public before just not on the facebook page. I like that you can make your facebook page just what you want to read and what you don’t. Like for instance you can have persons status a lot or a little and without any games or with. You can make it just what you want. Your friends will do the same. It will just take time. That’s the down part.


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