Getting round the limitations of Facebook as a symmetrical network.
This is NOT a how-to.
The term symmetrical network refers to the fact that currently Facebook, unlike Twitter and more recently Google Buzz, requires authorisation from both parties before one exposes the bulk of ones activity to a second party.
- Person A requests friendship from person B
- If person B accepts the friend request then both A and B's activity is exposed to both parties (you can tweak privacy settings but the assumtion is that A and B know each other and want to share information or keep in touch).
It's this "knowing" or trust relationship which makes people feel comfortable with exposing information. People share information with "friends" and as such the information shared can be of a more personal nature than information shared on a public asymmetrical network like Twitter (I'm discounting Twitter DMs here, which are one to one private messages where a reciprocal relationship is required, or Twitter accounts which are not public).
The current Facebook setup keeps everyone happy: you share with your friends and can be kept up-to-date by following (being a fan of) company pages you like: but the company is prevented from posting to your stream directly. They broadcast or can "update" to fans, but they can't directly post to your wall. Which is how it should be.
So what's the problem?
What I'm talking about is where companies (or individuals) break this container wall.
Using "people profiles" set up for a group, organisation or company. Often combined with a cloned page, which allows the one to many "following" too.
Here's an example: What's on Cologne
English Speaking Cologne page. Which is why this profile / page activity caught my attention.
None of this make you feel at all uneasy?
- The "person" currently has 477 "friends" (it was 169 when I first became aware of the profile).
- Those 477 "friends" do not know who the "friend" is (they probably view the relationship in a similar way to pages they fan).
- Those 477 people are sharing their personal information with a person they do not know.
One person and one page obviously isn't a trend. ....
A random handful: there are hundreds of others.
- The London "person" has access to
3,2974865 Friends - There is now a second London "person" profile - set up I assume because the first is about to hit the Facebook friend limit of 5000
- The London "page" has
Facebook doesn't seem to be doing much to combat this issue, although it's a breach of Facebook's terms.
The adoption of practices like this fuel Facebook figures and will lend sway to any future changes to the "friend" relationship mechanism which Facebook are sure to be contemplating.
I've stuck to "What's on xxx" in this post to better demonstrate my point: but I've seen this often. There are people I know doing this too, although not with malicious intent.
There is a common lack of understanding in how Facebook functions. Which hasn't been helped by the series of changes made by Facebook itself. Do you remember when groups looked different to pages?
It's no wonder people are confused.