The Zipless Facebook

Everyone has been going crazy about “frictionless sharing” for the last week. That’s Facebook’s cute new term for what happens when you give permission for something new and fun to enter your life and then it takes you to a party and “auto-shares” your activity with the world. You drunk slag. What to do? Short version long… you should probably get off the Internet now while the getting is good. (Well? At least consider it!)

• This explanation of the advent of “frictionless sharing” on Facebook led naturally to a conversation about how Facebook cookies work, including when you’re logged out of Facebook. And it was met with a rather strange reaction from a Facebook employee, who wrote: “Generally, unlike other major Internet companies, we have no interest in tracking people. We don’t have an ad network and we don’t sell people’s information.” That’s… absurd; Facebook is both an ad platform and an ad network, and has a pro level Facebook Ads (with, like, salespeople!) system and a self-managing, amateur-level ads system. (Also, you know: Nielsen Facebook ratings exists now?) While many of Facebook’s tracking systems has to do with non-advertising purposes, this is wildly beside the point.

• So now we have delightful products like the Washington Post’s “Social Reader app” (that’s what they call their newspaper on the Facebook. When you read their stories on that, it reports on you reading them to your friends! Isn’t that handy? Auto-broadcasting. Lifestreaming basically! Writes developer Michael Donohoe: “Earlier this year when I was still at the Times we talked to Facebook about a news app. Facebook had a whole set of new features in the pipeline (presumably just launched) and this passive reading action was one of them and they were pushing hard for us to use it.” Heh. But it’s apparently fine for the Washington Post.

• And then there’s the nutso trending in third-party apps. Color and Spotify’s permissions are insane; half the stuff you can interact with via Facebook (and Twitter!) is like “We can add friends and post to your wall and call your mom!”

What can/should you do? Well, you can laboriously keep up with changes in policy and privacy, for starters. It’s boring maintenance, like trimming your nose hair, which you should probably also do soon. This is a good explainer. Spoiler: start here, with your app settings, and delete everything you don’t love. But guess what! This is just the beginning. Just turn on your webcam and rip off your shirt, let’s just get this over with.