In which I bitch about Facebook’s changes (you knew this would happen sooner or later)

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Facebook recently changed everything again, without asking its users (again) or seemingly thinking about how to make things better (again).

I’m reminded of the de-motivational poster that shows a comic of two pigs, talking about how their home is free and all the food is even paid for! The caption reads “Facebook: you’re not the consumer, you’re the product.”

One of the most disturbing changes is to how pages operate: starting the end of the month, you will not longer be able to send out mass messages to your followers via the PM system. You must interact with them via news feed.

Fantastic. How many people have “Liked” a page, only to turn off appearance in the news feed? That’s a good show of hands there, and I’m raising mine along with you. I like the news feed to have my friends‘ updates. If something is important, I assume the page I like will send me a message.

I can’t help but think this particular change is a way to stop organization and forming of revolutions via the social medium of Facebook. Can’t have the proletariat rioting, can we? Why aren’t they happy with being poor and hungry, marginalized and set aside, murdered and nothing done to bring the perpetrators to justice?*

So now, with Facebook’s changes, I am no longer able to alert fans of my author page to special things like book launch dates, book tour dates, giveaways, and other fun stuff that should be exclusive to following my page. Now I must post it all on the page — where anyone can read it, and it sort of takes away from the whole “Follow to get exclusive updates” angle I’ve been working.

It also prevents me from sending instructions to members of Katje’s Army, placed strategically throughout the Americas, to let them know when to revolt.

Another change that I find incredibly sinister is the automatic subscription to your friends’ every movement. There’s a ticker in the right hand corner where you can see all their comments on everyone’s profiles. Including profiles that were previously hidden to you, because the owners of said profiles are on there to connect with family members, not the rest of the known world.

That was one of the actually good things about Facebook — there was some privacy for those who wanted it. I can understand wanting a simple interface to interact with a chosen few people, and not wanting your profile open to the rest of the hordes. Sure, you won’t ever have total privacy on the wide internet, but it’s not too much to ask for greater privacy options from sites.

Now the default setting on Facebook is for all of your friends to be subscribed to your comments and likes, whether you want them to be or not. The only way to change this is to ask every one of your friends to unsubscribe, manually, from your “Comments and Likes”.

You now have no control at all over people seeing your comments on other profiles. It’s as if you’re in a large room, and you say one thing to your friend as part of a private conversation, but there are microphones right by you and everyone in the room hears what you said.

So now, just as I whisper when I go through the border in case they construe what I’m saying to my mom as reason enough to throw me in Gitmo, I whisper on Facebook. I say nothing to friends on their pages. I only talk about myself. It’s the safest topic, and one I can control.

I’ve changed my subscription settings on many of my friends, but I have almost 400 of them. I subscribe to all updates, only status updates. This gives me the smallest headache, and takes a small step towards protecting their privacy. (However, I’m not sure it works…it seems their other update types still appear in the ticker. I’m hoping this is evidence of time lapse before the changes take effect, not evidence of Facebook not giving a shit.) The act of changing my subscription to every single friend, manually? Very large headache and not time I have.

At least we still have veto power. The delete button on others’ posts on your wall still exists. I’ve never used it before, because I believe in owning your words. But now the simple fact is that what people post can damage my career, which is built almost entirely upon reputation. (Reputation and skill. The latter I have no worries about.)

In the new Facebook landscape, I recommend sending PMs to your friends, no matter what you’re asking. It takes the same amount of time and it may save them some headaches.

Better yet, move to Google+. There’s a learning curve there, but no bigger than Facebook’s current learning curve. And Google is more likely to listen to people’s suggestions (as in adding a third gender option, which is not as good as a fill-in box but still a huge step in the right direction) for improving the site.

Need an invite? Here you go. My author profile is happy to have everyone add her to their circles.

Small caveat, though: Zombie Lane is frakking addicting. (Great thing about G+’s games: you don’t spam everyone in your circles with game stuff. I’ve created a GAMES circle, and only those who play get added to it. Bravo, Google, bravo.)

As an author, I continue to use Facebook because there are a lot of people on it still, and G+ is still new. I’m hoping that will change in the near future, and I’ll be able to use Google+, GoodReads, and Twitter almost exclusively. It seems Facebook will never learn the lesson learned by MySpace: too many changes, and people leave.

 

*Nothing is ever done to bring those who are in power to justice for the crimes they commit against the lower classes. Especially in a democracy, which is just a fancy term for an elected monarchy.
I honestly have no problem with that, really — my problem is that Canadians seem determined to elect the monarchs who hate arts, culture, and anyone not already in the Conservative noble class. We could stand someone a bit more like Catherine the Great, you know?
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