Warily, and with much trepidation

I used to have a Facebook account. I deleted it. Not just suspended, actually deleted. The whole system over there gave me the creeps, between the ads that oscillated wildly between knowing too much and too little about me, to the way it would send me email notifications that someone had left me a message without actually telling me what was in the message. And then there’s the fact that Facebook’s friending system is reciprocal, which means I can’t let someone follow me without following them in return and taking the risk that they’re the sort of person who spends their day throwing sheep at me.

I gather that things have got better in the last year or two, and I keep seeing reasons why I should use it for work, so the time has come to try it again. Warily, and with much trepidation.

In addition to the obvious AdBlock I’ll be making use of articles like these:

It’s not that I particularly desire privacy — hell, I spew all the minutiae of my life across Twitter without caring who reads it — but that those same settings might just help keep me sane and sheep-free. The problem is, I know a lot of people — more than most of the people I know1 — which leads to a serious imbalance of traffic. So I’m much more concerned about filtering inbound information than I am about filtering outbound information. I’m not sure that Facebook’s really set up for that.

Tips, as usual, are appreciated.

1. Somewhat-related article of interest: Why your friends have more friends than you do, via Radar.

12 thoughts on “Warily, and with much trepidation

  1. I could go on about Facebook and security for weeks, but here’s one tip you likely won’t hear elsewhere:

    You know all those pretty little privacy settings? There is no absolutely no technology that can enforce some of them at the moment. They’re pretty much a placebo.

    I should write a little article or a short set of slides explaining why this is, sometime.

    Terri

  2. I’m pretty sure you can remove a user from your “newsfeed” permanently.

    There’s also “block this application permanently”, and “block all application requests from this user”.

    You can also drag things around a bit in the top left bar, so you can put “status updates” above “newsfeed”, which will get you only status updates, rather than pictures, application posts, and whatever else as well.

  3. My method of filtering inbound information is to define a group of friends I care to follow, and subscribe to the RSS feed of status updates from that one group. The only downside I’ve noticed is missing notifications of other content such as notes and photos.

  4. Why not use Twitter, LinkedIn, Stackoverflow, and as mentioned above RSS, as the basis for your professional and work connections to the world? Not to mention your blog.

    I toss IRC/XMPP into that mix, and I have everything I need without Facebook. (Still have a FB account but not for that purpose)

  5. My main issues are 1) need to promote work-related events etc (eg. hack days) through all relevant social media channels, 2) expectation that I maintain Freebase’s “page” on Facebook, 3) people linking to events on Facebook that you need an account to access and RSVP, 4) people talking about stuff within the walled garden that I need to read and respond to in some way.

    If I were just working as a developer it wouldn’t be a big deal and I could keep ignoring it, but as a community manager it’s pretty hard to avoid.

  6. The unfortunate situation with walled gardens. The only other option is to cultivate your own controlled community, but you still can’t ignore others. Time to bring back usenet? :)

  7. *nod* It’s actually the same problem the RIAA and media producers are having, but in reverse… If your content is usable, it can be copied. The only way to make it unable to be copied is to make it unusable…

  8. You want Greasemonkey in your browser along with the “Facebook Purity” script – http://bit.ly/fbpure

    It cleans up a lot of the crap. Gets rid of app invites, moves all the “X is now friends with Y and likes giving dolphins blowjobs” type stuff under a toggle, etc.

  9. For me, Facebook justified itself when I got back in touch with an old friend from 20 years ago I missed a lot. Your mileage may vary. But I basically add everyone I’ve ever known who I might actually give the time of day.

    I just update through Twitter, because I use Twitter and FB for basically the same thing, i.e. links and short bursts of “wit.” I stop by the site itself every now and then and randomly comment-bomb more to say “hi” than anything.

    I can’t imagine sitting on facebook.com and hitting F5 for more than a few minutes at a time. But then, I don’t have to.

  10. I use facebook with the security turned pretty much all the way up. I have a “Limited Profile” for people who don’t need to see everything I post (family), and I never accept invitations to causes/groups/applications. I’ve probably ticked a few people off, since several of my friends have started causes, but I decided when they came out that I didn’t want them and it’s easier to say no to everyone than justify each one. I also crosspost my tweets to my status, but only important ones. There are definitely benefits to the network that facebook provides, especially professionally, as long as you also set standards for how you’re going to interact with everyone. ^_^

  11. To address the noise to signal question and not the privacy issue:

    in the FB feed view, in the upper right of everyone’s update in line with text entry box that currently says “what’s on your mind”, is an invisible Hide button. Mouse down from the far right of the text entry box and eventually you’s see “Hide” with a downward facing toggle. Click. The box will expand. If the post is from FB’s status or photo sharing or link sharing, all you will see is “Hide [user].” OTOH, if they’re using some sort of external application (game, quiz), you can “Hide [crap^h^h^h^h application].”

    If by throwing sheep you mean “Your Friend just threw a sheep in your pasture! Click here to throw a sheep back!” you can stop them from throwing sheep.

    You can also delete comments people make on your updates, if that’s where the sheep get thrown. I’m not sure that you can stop a group of people from commenting in advance thought.

    Good luck!

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