Sunday, September 23, 2012

Facebook is moving away from "passive sharing"

I'm sure you've seen it around on Facebook.  So-called passive sharing (also known as frictionless sharing) is when a Facebook application shares your activity, specially reading an article or watching a video, with all your friends automatically.  It was announced at F8 2011, and has been touted as a new way to share your activities.

At 2012 Online News Association, Liz Heron tweeted that Andy Mitchell from Facebook said passive sharing is something that Facebook is moving away from.  A good riddance.

I've been against the idea of passive sharing from user perspective as I wrote earlier.  But I came to discover that it also created some legal problems for app developers as well.

Meet the Video Privacy Protection Act.  It is a piece of legislation that specifically prohibits video rental companies from disclosing video titles rented by any customer without written consent.  Court has recently hinted that this VPPA will be applicable to sharing what customer has watched on Facebook.  Remember all those status updates from SocialCam, Hulu and Viddy about your friends watching video clips?  Now we don't see them any more and there is a reason why.

Although today's social media users seem to share more than ever before, there is still a line where acceptable info to share ends and unacceptable info to share begins.  What Facebook did with passive sharing was that Facebook decided what was acceptable to share on user's behalf.  In other words, there is no user control.  Even though it's user information, user is not consulted before making the information public.  No wonder users avoided passive sharing apps.

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