Everyone knows that Facebook is a huge social networking site. Its founder thinks that he can take over the Internet. Its founder also hates Google with a passion. Facebook has all types of people on it from students to business people to grandmothers. In fact, they claim 400 million users in total. The reason for this is that they have mastered the art of connecting people together. One of the main things that happen on Facebook is what is known as “status updates.” For those who do not know what it is all about, then take a gander…
Status updates are what the Facebookers live by and how most keep up to date with what everyone is doing. A Facebook user can let all of his or her friends know what he or she is thinking, feeling or doing via an online update. If someone sees this update and likes what they see, it used to be that the person would have to write a comment underneath the update to let their friend know they liked it. This took time and many people did not want to take the time to say what they thought. With Facebook’s obsession with total Internet conquest, it was only a matter time before they figured out how to make it easier for everyone involved, thus getting more people interested in doing it.
In the Face of Conquest
Facebook introduced the Facebook “Like” Button. Now, underneath a status update or any other kind of news, a little link simply says “Like.” If a person clicks that link under an update he or she likes, Facebook immediately puts the words “You like this” under it. To everyone else, it says “So and so likes this,” well, to everyone that is following you of course. They are the only ones who can see this action you made.
That way, a user can voice their opinion without actually doing anything more than clicking the mouse. How easy is that? If more than four or more people like something, there will be a line under the update that says, “Four people like this,” and if a person wants to see who it is that likes it, they can click on the link and Facebook shows a list of all the people who liked that particular thing.
Of course, as with anything Facebook related, there have been concerns raised by many regarding the “Like” button’s privacy factor. This comes from the fact that in the process of processing your “Like” or informational request, they will be accessing any information you share publicly and in the wake of the Terms of Service change concerning publicly shared information which was previously considered private, it seems as they are talking advantage of the situation.
This is because many people still have not changed their privacy settings after Facebook changed how much is information was made public in the first place, which happens too include most of it. Yes, that means all those photos you thought were private and safe from prying eyes are no longer safe unless you have changed your settings.
In the case of the Facebook “Like” button, you click on it and if you are not logged into Facebook, then enter you username, password and the “Like” button connects to your profile to say “(your name) likes this.” It will even save this information for you. After logging in, anyone can view your information, which is where the change of the terms of service comes into play again. If you did not change your settings, then everyone can see everything just be looking at who likes the item.
The button is already showing up on almost every website, even news sites like The Washington Post. Just as any good webmaster would do, they are adding the “Like” button hoping to get more hits. Nevertheless, people are concerned with these possible privacy issues. I think people should maintain their profile and update it if necessary before using the button. Either that or at least read the information given by Facebook about the privacy changes within their Help Pages and make a decision. For now, the only real concern is the fact that they may begin using this privately public information to target ads (which will be discussed in a future article).
Another problem is that when a user says they like something, they are notified every time someone else likes it or comments on it. Many times if someone just likes something instead of commenting, they do not like it all that much and they do not really care to read the comments that are posted on it after they “Like” it. A third problem is that many people do not like that there is only a like button and no “Dislike” button available, leaving readers little choice. You can “Like” it or nothing at all, as if you were pretending you were never there. Sure, you could leave a comment saying you dislike something, but that takes away the ease of the button and precious time and undermines the whole point of the button in the first place. What would be the point then? You could say this for every “social networkie” type of share button, but we are focusing on Facebook’s “Like” button here.
For now, the “Like” button will have to do. I suppose that Facebook is not too interested in what you would not like, but only what you “might” like, which they can translate into what you might buy. This may sound a bit cynical but keep in mind that as huge and powerful as Facebook is, it is kind of interesting that Facebook has yet to figure out how to make money… I wonder what this might have to do with the new Microsoft Office integration with Facebook as well, but alas, that will also have to wait for another article.
References & Resources
Facebook: Terms of Service
Facebook Developers: Like Button
The Washington Journal: Home Page
The Independent: Facebook Heads Towards Profit
Facebook Heal Pages: Update Privacy Settings