Facebook’s Frictionless Sharing

It’s been a few weeks since f8, and I’ve been having a play with the new timeline functionality that Facebook is planning to  roll out, as well as getting used to the ‘frictionless sharing’ that Facebook has already rolled out with selected partners. There’s not much point in us writing about timeline – yes I’m running it, yes it’s aesthetically a great interface, yes it’s easy to use, yes there will be an inevitable ‘the sky is falling on our heads’ reaction when it finally launches – for about a week until everyone gets used to it, and yes, lots of people have already written about how great it is.

Instead, I’m interested in the ‘frictionless sharing’ that Facebook have been trumpeting and that is a result of the changes they’ve made to Open Graph.

Lots of commentators have already talked about the possibilities that Open Graph apps open up, and the effect they’re going to have on brands – how pages will become less important, how a brand’s updates will show up in feeds much less often and how therefore in order to connect with their audiences, brands need to start developing their own Open Graph apps. You can read about this elsewhere. The important thing to note about frictionless sharing is that if it heralds a new way of sharing content across the web, it means that the sharing of what we are reading, listening to or watching will increasingly become automatic – it will no longer require a manual action such as liking, tagging, or tweeting.

This is what I’m more interested in right now: the act – or rather non-act – of frictionless sharing.  Neil Perkin wrote an interesting column on frictionless sharing on NMA recently. He makes this point, which I shall quote in full:

“The fact that a piece of content is deliberately selected, judged, commented on and passed on by one of my friends or someone I follow attributes a certain significance and context to it. It’s a significance that I cherish. Social curation has come to sit alongside algorithmic and professional curation as a valuable way to distinguish signal from noise.”

I’m in full agreement with this – aside from the obvious ‘filter bubble’ issues around both social and algorithmic curation, I do get most of my daily intelligence (if you’ll forgive the pretension of the term) via social curation and this will immediately be devalued by frictionless sharing.

Why? Well, if I’m now not only being passed a ‘piece of content deliberately selected, judged, commented on’ by one of my friends, but also the stuff that one of my friends has read, listened to or watched, but thought was a bit rubbish and not worth passing on,then social curation is useless. After all, you wouldn’t necessarily buy a book just because you saw a mate reading it on the bus. You’d want to know whether it was any good first.

Facebook Graffiti

Photo (cc) Katie Sayer.

This post originally appeared on my company blog, here.


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