“This isn’t a bug, it’s a feature”

Something is wrong here. If someone believes, even fleetingly, that a feature on your platform is a bug, that’s a problem.

And I think that the bug feature that I read about this morning which has apparently been rearing its ugly head on Facebook recently is potentially going to be a big problem.

ZDNet reports that Facebook has been automatically publishing posts under people’s name and placing them at the top of the News Feed for their friends to see. Now, while that might seem annoying, it probably doesn’t really present any sort of problem – that is, unless the content that Facebook is publishing under your name is politically controversial:

One associate whose name was attached to a rabidly right-wing political post said she disagreed vehemently with the sentiment it expressed, and she couldn’t imagine why it appeared under her name.

Or just plain embarrassing [screenshot]:

A colleague of mine and a friend of mine had both “liked” drugstore.com somewhere along the way. No problem, right? Wrong.

Drugstore.com recently ran a somewhat racy promotion for the “Date Night Gift Pack from K-Y: Including $10 off 2 movie tickets, Yours & Mine Lubes, and K-Y Touch Warming Oil,” and the ad implied that my associates liked the K-Y products. To say that my colleague and my friend were mortified would be an understatement!

Now, that could be a little distressing on a personal level, but imagine that you were using your Facebook account in a professional purpose and your clients or colleagues get suggestions that you are recommending sexual lubricants. Ouch!

Facebook’s response to the ZDNet article confirms that this can happen to anyone who Likes a page – any Facebook page:

To help people find new Pages, events, and other interesting information, people may now see posts from a Page a friend likes. These posts will include the social context from your friends who like the Page and will respect all existing settings.

We’ve warned you before about who you share your social media account details with, but it’s a bit difficult not to share your Facebook account details with er… Facebook. Personally, I’m not a huge Facebook user, but I do see its value and its uses. However, I can only see that this bug feature will dissuade users from Liking pages, which is the primary way that Facebook now works. Own goal?

ZDNet continues:

Even worse, if you’re the recipient of these messages, there is no way to prevent them from appearing in your News feed. You can hide individual stories as they appear, but you can’t block the page from posting again, and again, and again. And even if you remove the friend completely from your news feed, the forcibly shared posts appear. The only way to stop it is to unfriend the person whose Facebook identity is being misused.

If you’re concerned that inappropriate content might appear in your friends’ News feed under your name, you should immediately go through the list of pages for which you’ve clicked Like, and Unlike any that you think pose the potential of embarrassing you.

I’ve pored through Facebook account settings and can find no way to disable this kind of sharing. There are settings that control whether your name is attached to ads, but these aren’t ads. If they were, the word “Sponsored” would appear alongside them. (And if they’re unlabeled ads, well, that opens another can of worms, doesn’t it?)

In the meantime, I’d go for that middle paragraph option above. [Profile -> Likes -> Go to individual FB page -> Hover over LIKED button -> Click Unlike from dropdown menu].

The trouble is, with sites as innocuous as drugstore.com (think of it as a Boots or a Clicks pharmacy) posting “dodgy” stuff as you, where do you draw the line?

For your peace of mind, I promise that 6000.co.za’s Facebook page will probably never post dodgy stuff on your behalf.

Fashionable to be rude

Have a read of David Carr’s column for the NYT, presented almost without comment, except to say that sadly, this kind of behaviour really is becoming more and more noticeable:

You are at a party and the person in front of you is not really listening to you. Yes, she is murmuring occasional assent to your remarks, or nodding at appropriate junctures, but for the most part she is looking beyond you, scanning in search of something or someone more compelling.

Here’s the funny part: If she is looking over your shoulder at a room full of potentially more interesting people, she is ill-mannered. If, however, she is not looking over your shoulder, but into a smartphone in her hand, she is not only well within modern social norms, but is also a wired, well-put-together person.

Add one more achievement to the digital revolution: It has made it fashionable to be rude.

On the plus side, it might actually force people at parties  to be more interesting to overcome this new social phenomenon.

Five stars

When it comes to catching on to social media and the internet as a marketing tool, I think it’s fair to say that some of the more traditional industries have been a little behind the curve. I’d include wine-making in that category, but it does seem that some SA wineries are beginning to realise not just what to do with social media, but how to do it and how to do it right – as demonstrated in this short video released by the Klein Constantia vineyard just down the road from chez 6000:

True – there are still a few signs of naivety: leaving the video title as “kc master.mp4” is a little amateur, for example. But it’s a good effort, it’s well made, it’s fun and shows that even after 321 years, there’s still room for innovation.
And that’s impressive.

Oh – and they’re not bad at making damn good wine, either.
Fine work all round.

The importance of twitter explained

A common complaint of Twitter users is the assumptions made about Twitter and Twitter users by non-Twitter users.

Twitter does have many different uses depending on what you want to get out of it, whether it is organising get-togethers, discussing or seeking solutions to technical problems, sharing photos and news stories in real time, promoting your blog (apparently, anyway) or business. It isn’t just a little chat service for nerds and geeks. Although, of course, it can do that too if you want it to.

So, before you step forward and slate what you don’t know or don’t understand, try looking at it using Brian Micklethwait’s criteria:

I’ve said it many times before, but it will bear constant repetition. When some new technique of communication is invented or stumbled upon, you should not judge its impact by picking ten uses of it at random, averaging them all out, and saying: Well that’s a load of trivial crap, isn’t it?!? How will “I am just about to make another slice of toast” change the world? The question to ask is: Of all the thousands of uses already being made of this thing, which one is the most significant? And then: Well, is that very significant? If yes, at all, then forget about the toast nonsense.

And the other thing to point out is that, even if you don’t care about some stranger being about to make some toast, there may well be some other strangers out there who do. For them, such twitterings may be very significant. What if the person about to toast suffers from suicidal depression, and his mere willingness to attempt any household task however trivial is a source of rejoicing to all his friends?

But there will always be the haters: those who can’t or don’t want to understand. Simon Heffer of the Telegraph, for example:

One very good reason why I would not join Facebook or Twitter is that I cannot imagine there is a soul anywhere on earth that I am not in touch with in any case who could care less what I am doing at any moment of the day. I cannot believe that anyone should want to spectate the ordinariness of my existence, for I certainly have no wish to spectate anyone else’s.

But then again, Simon Heffer is described in this month’s British GQ as “a pasty faced Billy Bunter figure with a penchant for college ties”.
David Cameron wrote of him, thus: 

“The attitude that he personifies – hatred of the modern world – is not just part of the problem. It is the problem.”

Of course, the simple rule for Simon and his type is: If you don’t like it, don’t do it. And stop whining. Yes, you’re going to hear about it in the newspapers and on the TV, but if it really bothers you that much, then skip those stories and read about the war in Afghanistan or the latest goings-on in the World T20.

Or do you really consider yourself so very important that just because you don’t get it, the rest of us aren’t allowed to either?