“Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you”
Or is it? Welcome to the ludicrous world of Facebook where my girlfriend can join up and her sister is already my friend but try as we might it appears there’s no way for my girlfriend to actually attempt to add her sister as a friend. The best they can do is see the other’s posts on the wall of my page and various mutual friends’ pages.
I quite liked MySpace’s old comment on this sort of thing when people were deliberately putting their age as under 16 to gain privacy, that why would you join a ‘social networking’ site and then not ‘network’, yet even they’ve been upping the ‘privacy’ settings. However, Facebook’s default seems to discourage you from being noticed or spoken to at all. Fair enough, it’s supposed to connect you to friends and not encourage you to add people you don’t know to your friends list, but the current settings seem to take things altogether too far.
There are people on my friends list that don’t even show up when my girlfriend browses the list and she knows these people too. And it seems like with her default settings they won’t be able to see her looking through my list too, so two people can simply miss each other totally on the site. None of this, it seems, stops Facebook’s real issue: that people from school will still attempt to add you as friends, even though there’s probably a damn good reason you’re no longer in touch with them. But you can still choose not to add them…which is why I can’t begin to understand why Facebook makes it possible to not even ‘add’ people. Are they somehow thinking the site will get as bad as MySpace was for spurious friend adds? Isn’t that their problem to solve cleverly in any case, rather than with some hammer-to-nut techniques?
I have a feeling that the ‘poke’ is the way round the dilemma of my girlfriend and her sister but who wants to ‘poke’ someone? In this case they can be fairly sure who’s who but I’ve certainly gone through friend lists before and been utterly unsure if someone’s who I think they are, and I’d rather not do something as unsavoury sounding as to ‘poke’ them. Facebook needs to get a hold of the difference between stuff that must be private (birthdate, emails, credit card numbers) and stuff that’s the bedrock of what they’re seeking to provide.