Imagine being Facebook for just one user

Facebook for real by Christoph Aigner
facebook_for_real by Christoph Aigner licenced under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Being Facebook can’t be easy. People complain whenever you make a change. Users are upset when you ask permission to get your job done. No matter what you try, your customers groan about how you decide what will show up in their News Feeds.

I’m sure I could do a better job than Facebook’s algorithms, so follow me as I step into the social network’s shoes.

I slip on my new sneakers and, before I can take a step, Mary comes to visit.

Forty-year-old Mary is one of my 829 million daily visitors.  She’s coming to look at pictures and videos from her 200 friends and 70 companies she “likes.”

I want to keep Mary happy. I want her to come back. I need to show her what she wants.

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Facebook Follow doesn’t follow its own definition

Banksy in Boston by Chris Devers licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Banksy in Boston by Chris Devers licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen was upset yesterday about Facebook’s Follow function, which lets users see other people’s posts without becoming their friends. Rosen wrote a short Facebook post about how journalists and other “content creators” can’t tell which of their followers see their posts. “Facebook decides that. How is a mystery,” explains Rosen. “Relevance. Algorithm. Beyond that, you’re left clueless.”

More than 180,000 people follow Rosen on Facebook. Following is not the same as an email subscription, where each subscriber gets every message sent. Delivery of each post is at the mercy of the social network’s algorithms, so Rosen’s posts aren’t shown to all of his 180,000+ followers.

Facebook “busted” a deal with content creators, says Rosen. It’s a deal that he once understood to be:

“You don’t whine about working and producing for free, we give your stuff distribution to the people who have elected to receive it.”

I can’t confirm that such a deal was ever made, but here is an interesting entry from Facebook’s answer to the question, “What does it mean to follow someone?

Straight from the horse's mouth
Straight from the horse’s mouth

That looks like a subscription to me. Facebook’s definition doesn’t include a qualifier before “their posts.” It doesn’t say “some of their posts” or “many of their posts” or “a selection of their posts.” It says that I will see the posts of the people I’ve decided to follow.

What do you think? Did Facebook break its deal with you when you chose to Follow someone? Do you want to see every post from every person you Follow?


Facebook app, sans Messenger, can already read your text messages

Facebook’s mobile apps will soon stop supporting chat, and you’ll have to install and use its Messenger app if you want to continue messaging with your Facebook friends.

Some people are upset about this because they simply don’t like the new app, don’t want to be forced to bounce between two programs, or don’t like the messaging app’s required permissions.

Well, if you have Facebook’s current Android app, you already have given it permission to read all of your text messages, take a look at who has been calling you, and use GPS to track your location.

Below is a comparison of the the permissions required by Facebook and Facebook Messenger to access to your device’s location, text messaging, and phone information.

Compare the permissions that Facebook's two Android apps require.
Compare the permissions that Facebook’s two Android apps require.

The New York Times’ Molly Wood does a good job explaining how Facebook’s Apple apps ask for permissions as they are needed.

It’s important to understand that if you rely on apps and devices to connect you to other people, communities and organizations, those apps will require permissions to act on your behalf. You can easily uninstall the apps.

Purported Paul George X-ray possibly 18 months old

One day after Indiana Pacers star Paul George broke his right leg during a USA Basketball Showcase scrimmage, NBA Central tweeted this photo of what it said was an X-ray of George’s leg.

As I write this post, that image has been retweeted more than 15,000 times.

It looks extremely similar to this image I found (through this page on imgfave) that was taken on February 27, 2013 and posted on Flickr in a group called Nasty XRAY. Continue reading