New Facebook rules to cut 'surprise' sharing by apps
The social network's 'frictionless' sharing picks up a little friction in an effort to avoid legal complications with U.S. laws about online privacy.
Sun, Jun 03, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Photo: Stephen Lam/AFP
Who doesn't read the occasional tabloid story with a headline like "Housewife Removes Wig for First Time?" But you don't always want your Facebook friends to know about your guilty pleasures.
On June 1, Facebook issued rules to app developers that require social apps like the Huffington Post Social Reader to wait before posting to Timeline, include an on-off button and make it easy to for users to remove activities once they've been posted.
The "frictionless" apps were launched last fall for effortless sharing when people listen to a song, read an article or watch a video. Sure, a user had to authorize the apps to share on their behalf, but the automatic sharing proved jarring to some, and in the case of video, possibly illegal. [Senators Consider Banning Automatic Media Sharing on Facebook ]
Facebook's new rules say that sharing apps must wait at least 10 seconds before posting. While that may seem awfully short — you may not have even had the chance to read the first paragraph — it's a step in the right direction. And for longer articles, an app won't be able to publish that you've read a multipage article until you're on the last page.
Video falls under the same 10-second rule, but developers have the option to not publish until a viewer has watched more than half a video, which makes good sense. How many times have you started a video and then turned it off within the first minute or so? [Video to Follow Photos as Facebook Sensation ]
Because of the federal Video Privacy Protection Act, you must give your permission to share what you've watched each time. Facebook has decided not to play around with legal consequences, even if it means video apps are not quite as automatic as they'd like them to be.
Further, apps must include an on-off feature, so when you visit a page, you can turn social sharing off, and it will stay off until you change the setting. Developers have 90 days to get their apps up to code.
Facebook has realized that people appreciate the convenience of automatic sharing some of the time, but not all of the time. [How to Quiet Facebook's Oversharing Apps ] Going forward, Facebook's "no surprises" policy means users will have to make an extra click or two, but will likely be able to save themselves from being judged for their occasional tabloid indulgence.
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