It seems that Mark Zuckerberg’s push to make Facebook more ‘business friendly’ is cruising along swimmingly. But as I’ve noticed more and more lately, Facebook is increasingly allowing apps to post AS YOU, rather than as themselves. I’ve never allowed it.
Today was the first time I saw a major company doing it, Sony. I am a bit disturbed. I was sent a link to Sony Ericsson’s Facebook app to check out its new Sony Xperia range of smartphones launched at CES on Monday.
Unfortunately I may never know what the competition is about as I am not willing to allow a company to take over my Facebook account, not matter how limited their actual access may be. This picture will explain somewhat.
While no doubt many of us have allowed apps and product pages access to our profiles etc. I have never before been asked if a business can ‘post to Facebook as me’. Maybe this is old hat and I’m stuck in the 20th century. There aren’t many complaining online.
Facebook does have to produce some tangible profits after all, but just how far will Facebook go before it is spamming individual’s accounts with business junk wrecks the brand completely? My newsfeed is already showing dangerous signs of being overrun by newspaper stories, more than actual Facebook friend interactions.
Even more interestingly, clicking ‘Don’t Allow’ once, does nothing. Clicking it again brings up this friendly Facebook page.
I presume the first ‘dead click’ is so users trying to get to the page as quickly as possible to enter the competition simply click ‘Allow’ to get the screen out of the way, not having read the info on the screen. I suspect it was deliberately planned as such.
The ‘we get it’ page is condescending as hell. It also reads a bit snarky, sarcastic and exasperated. It is obviously a ‘catch-all’ page that has popped up to assuage the paranoia of Facebook newbies. However, it is irrelevant to the matter at hand, as it also makes no reference to any alien entity posting AS me.
I am a big boy. I can actually share the things I want to share with my friends manually. In the case of these businesses – if your product is awesome, I’ll tell people – but on my terms not yours. My friends don’t want to be spammed with this stuff either.
A Facebook spokesperson responded to my concerns.
"This is not a new feature. This permission means that the app is requesting to make it possible to post the activity you do in the app to your Timeline. This allows you to easily share your app activity with friends, such as when you reach a new score in a game.
"In this specific case, the user can also choose to remove the permission by clicking X and moving forward without it. People can always control how apps publish content to their Timeline from their Application Settings."
Unchecking the ‘post to Facebook as you’ button and clicking skip does nothing. Many apps allow you to proceed here, with less functionality. This one doesn’t at all. It will just reload the page to infinity.
Clicking ‘Don’t Allow’ denies me access to the app altogether.
I’m sure the Sony Ericsson page is absolutely harmless and does absolutely nothing harmful of the sort. But how would I know? And how are the parameters of privacy set between Facebook and its clients here? How far can they go? It is a very slippery slope. While Sony is a giant corporate with a reputation to maintain, who knows what less reputable entities will do?
Facebook maintains that all its app developers are held strictly to Facebook’s platform policies, found here.The rest I presume is a trade secret.
Even if there’s a slip up for a few second, even if Facebook shuts down a crook, it’s too late. Your personal information is still out there. Microseconds of failure are all that is needed in the modern world for your info to be copied throughout the internet.
To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have had a problem if the company wanted to post things under its own name, but using mine is downright scary and I would feel of dubious legality.
Unfortunately, I’ll now never know what’s in that Sony Ericsson app. Because I’m not clicking Allow. Sadly, I suspect I’m probably one of the few.
Facebook is about users socialising with each other. To the user, corporations and businesses are a side concern on Facebook, not the centrepiece. Most users I suspect are like me, enduring the ads as a necessary evil to help Facebook pay for itself. Businesses and advertising are not the reason I visit Facebook daily. I’m sorry Zuckerberg, but its true. You need to make your money without intruding on my experience through your excellent website, else you’ll go the way of Myspace.
If this is the future of business on Facebook, it needs to sit down and start again. Because this kind of intrusive business model will only work for a time. Facebook is fortunate right now in that it is a monopoly. But as soon as a rival system gets up and running this kind of surreptitious behaviour will cause users to leave in droves.
It’s the kind of approach that reminds me of sneaky freeware developers hiding ‘special toolbars’ in product installs, or including draconian provisions in 100 page licensing terms and conditions documents, assuming users will blindly click accept over and over again quickly to get on with their business.
Is this the kind of company Facebook wants to keep? Back-alley freeware developers? For some reason I thought it was £100bn elite company.