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Facebook Adds A Stalking Feature – Thoughts about the web

Facebook Adds A Stalking Feature

Facebook recently became a stalkers’ paradise. The so-called “close friends” group appeared. In fact, it might have appeared earlier, it’s just that now facebook started giving you suggestions to add friends to your “close friends” list. What it does is simple – you get a notification (the red number at the top) every time a close friend of yours posts something. Of course your friend does not have to confirm the “close friendship” and is not notified about it.
So now, when a stalker want to track everything you write, he just adds you as “close friend” and gets notified on each post by his “victims”. Good for the stalker. In fact, a similar feature is under development in welshare, but the button is called “Stalk”. No euphemisms. (And you will be able to stalk twitter users you don’t follow. Pretty mean, I know)

But the main problem is not stalkers. The problem is that facebook are driving this in a very bad direction. Namely, that your close friends are your online close friends. That’s greatly asocial. Normally people that see/talk to each other more than once a week need something to talk about and discuss. You probably know the awkwardness when each conversation is ended with “yeah, I saw that on facebook when you posted it”. Interaction with close friends is happening in the real world, that’s why they are “close friends”. In a way, they should be exempt from the broadcast nature of social networks – they are privileged to learn things first hand. Yes, go ahead and share your experience with your 500 friends, but tell it with more details in person to your close friends. That’s social. In fact, welshare also has “close friends”, but the purpose is exactly the opposite (and it is still in progress) – you may choose not to see any update by your close friends, because you like to get updated in person.

There’s another thing that bothers me here – facebook might have gotten this right, people may really be needing this feature. So in 5 years they will barely be talking to each other, they won’t send a chat “Hey, let me tell you what happened yesterday”, and when they meet in person they’ll know all the stories. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against online communication, and I’m not against the broadcasting nature of social networks. But facebook is imposing an asocial behaviour on us, and that’s bad.

 

10 comments

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    • Ivelina on May 7, 2012 at 12:18 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks for clearing what this feature is for. In fact usually when FB adds new feature we get this small tutorial telling us what the feature does. I think I didn’t get explanation what the close friends feature is about so ignored it. Until I read your post.

    I think this feature is great. It’s not anti-social at all. But it does depend on what your friends post and what you talk about with them. For example I like to discuss things my friends post with them. So the feature is great for me. I’ll never miss what my friends post and I’ll always be able to discuss it with them. I won’t get into situation where friend asks me “Hey did you read the article I posted yesterday?” and I have missed that so I have to search his timeline to find out what it was so we can talk about it.

    Of course if your friends only post things like “I just ate pizza.”. Then I agree with you, this feature is bad for your communication.

    • Mathias on May 30, 2013 at 4:02 pm
    • Reply

    Despite your criticism, I don’t see anything wrong with the “Close Friends” feature. They’re a friend on your Facebook page for a reason — either they added you or you added them. So at some point the decision was made to be FB friends. If you want to add them to the “Close Friends” feature, so what? You’d see what they post at some point eventually. So chill out people, it’s not like it’s some unknown pedophile out there following your every move.

    1. I personally don’t have an issue with anyone stalking me. But it’s stalking – getting notifications about any activity from a given person will most likely be misused.

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