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Frictionless Sharing on Facebook: TMI

Frictionless sharing

causes Facebook friend fatigue. We all know that everything we consume is not worth sharing. Facebook introduced frictionless sharing in fall 2011 with several Open Graph apps that automatically share what you’re reading (e.g., Washington Post, the first on the scene, Digg Social Reader, Huffington Post), watching (Netflix), or listening to (Spotify, Soundcloud, etc.). paper coffee filtersWith social reader apps, content you may merely sample or dislike is broadcast to your friends. Friction can be good. It occurs between thought and action. Friction is a filter.

Many users don’t realize they’ve opted in. Considering the original content publishers’ goal of getting added exposure and user data, the apps are well-designed, opt-in gating content. Otherwise, the user has to search for the article their friend auto-shared the old fashioned way. That is just a lot more work, and we’re all so very busy, so users acquiesce and opt-in to seamlessly get to the story about Snooki’s baby weight. Frictionless sharing apps, like Facebook itself, spread because if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Social Reader Apps

Washington Post Social Reader Facebook App

After opting in, you’re giving unpaid endorsements to news sources, and in exchange (a pretty one-sided exchange), they get your information: “If you read a story through the Washington Post Social Reader, the company gets your name, profile picture, gender, user ID, friends list, the networks you’ve joined and anything you’ve posted publicly. Under the default setting, it can also post every article you read through the app, the people you’ve liked and more…” –sfgate.com

Touted advantages of frictionless sharing apps:

1. You don’t have to leave Facebook to access content (because tabbed browsing is so cumbersome)

2. The app uses your likes, interests, and what you and your friends are reading to tailor the news delivered to you (encouraging tunnel vision)

3. Music sharing apps like Spotify let friends easily discover your music and judge you for it

4. People will think you’re smart because you found hidden objects in Gardens of Time

If you actually want to share content in a universally clickable way, take the extra seven seconds and post the link in a regular status update. Many of us don’t use social reader apps. It’s likely that more tech savvy folks are averse to superfluous apps that coercively track users or uncontrollably overshare.

Remember the point of sharing: to expose more people to valuable content. If you constantly post everything you come across it diminishes the value of all of your posts. When you really want to cry wolf, how will I tell the difference between that post and the Snooki article?

Don’t be a pawn for convenience. Post real links, at least for news. Or give up and let the wolf eat the sheep – maybe that is our digital thanatos (death wish), passive aggressively annoying one another into oblivion.

  • Totally agree! I honestly think readers like that are one of the worst ideas ever. I don’t want to auto-endorse links I see…what if I was checking out something someone against my beliefs said? It would look like I’d agree with them!