RSS
Is Facebook ruining sharing?
While some find Facebook's new, automatic "Seamless Sharing" feature invasive and wrong, others consider it the wave of the digital future
 
Mark Zuckerberg's most recent Facebook upgrade "Seamless Sharing" requires users in some cases to install an app before clicking through to an outside link.
Mark Zuckerberg's most recent Facebook upgrade "Seamless Sharing" requires users in some cases to install an app before clicking through to an outside link.
Lea Suzuki/San Francisco Chronicle/Corbis

Facebook has rolled out a new feature called "Seamless Sharing" that's polarizing the tech world. The service makes it easy for third party websites, say Spotify or The Washington Post, to automatically post links and updates about what you're reading, listening to, and watching in the news feeds of your Facebook friends. You may have noticed it when you clicked on a friend's link to a news article and were prompted to install an app for the publication rather than being taken to the article itself. Some find the potential for frictionless "Seamless Sharing exciting and revolutionary. Others say it's an invasive move that actually ruins the act of sharing. Does it?

Most definitely: This is "totally ruining sharing," says Molly Wood at CNET. It's all part of a grand plan for Facebook and publishers to get the authority to automatically share everything you're reading, watching, buying, or listening to. This is supposed to be "frictionless sharing," but now you need to download an app just to read an article your friend recommended. Sharing shouldn't be this hard nor should it happen passively without a user's awareness. Facebook needs to fix this, or I'm headed to Google Plus.
"How Facebook is ruining sharing"

And it's wrong in other ways too: With this development, Facebook is fundamentally violating "the relationship between the web and its users," and essentially operating like a computer virus, says Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb. When you click on a link, it doesn't take you where it says it will — it's "manipulative and user-hostile." Meanwhile, more and more data about our activities is being collected. I don't know why anyone thought this would be a good idea, but I suspect "Facebook is built by arrogant young people living charmed lives [who are] sure they know what's best for the rest of us."
"Why Facebook's seamless sharing is wrong"

Nah, it's "freaky" but also exciting and revolutionary: Mark Zuckerberg is "building a new media company… where the media comes to us," says Robert Scoble at Scobleizer. That's way more interesting than the "boring old model" in which you choose to visit a website yourself. Facebook promises that up to 60 automatic sharing apps like The Washington Post's will be available. Of course, users may have to change their behavior as they adjust to this "freaky" revolution. "I already have, for instance, I don’t listen to Lady Gaga on Spotify, I only listen to bands on Spotify that I want you to see."
"The Facebook freaky line"

It will just take some getting used to: We're going to have to adjust to this huge, "brilliant" change, but once we do, "we'll be able to dance across the web from one piece of great content to the next, sharing it all effortlessly, and only having to stop when something deserves to be struck from the record," says Josh Constine at TechCrunch. App developers will need to cooperate and offer an easy means of "unsharing" an embarrassing song or mediocre news article. Once we figure this all out, it will be great — a "golden age" where sharing is easy and automatic.
"Facebook and the age of curation through unsharing"

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week