Last week Facebook introduced us to the latest in a long line of questionable applications and functions. The ‘see friendship’ function allows people to view a summary of all their interactions with a chosen friend — a sort of page dedicated to the two of friends. This friendship page allows the user to view all wall posts between the two friends, dating back to the beginning of their Facebook friendship.
I tested this feature, and found that it can go back at least a few years, as I was able to browse wall posts between a friend and I from 2007. The function also allows a user to view any photos that both that user and the selected friend are in together, events they both attended, other Facebook users they are both friends with, and common ‘likes’, or interests they both share according to their profiles (e.g. TV shows, movies, books, etc.).
However, all of this information has been available in the past. Before the ‘see friendship’ function, users could click on the ‘wall-to-wall’ function that would simply show them all of their wall posts. When visiting a friend’s profile page, a user could click on a link that would show him photos of him and his friend together. Any time a user RSVPs to an event, that information is made public to anyone else invited to the event, and common ‘likes’ have always been available when viewing a friend’s profile.
Facebook’s new function is not violating any privacy as it only displays information both parties have willingly shared. It also doesn’t really provide any new information about friends, as it only compiles already existing data. However, it definitely makes it a lot easier to remember that conversation you were having in July 2007, or find that picture of you and your friend on that camping trip last summer.
Is this new function necessary? Definitely not. Is it something people wanted? I don’t think so. But will people use it? That remains to be seen.
Where the function really gets creepy is the ability to monitor other peoples’ friendships. Just type in the names of two friends, and you can see their friendship page. If we thought Facebook was voyeuristic before, this just takes it to a whole new level. Again, this information was always public before, but it wasn’t quite so easy to find. It might make people think twice about the way they communicate and share with friends on Facebook.
This new function reminds me of a few years back when Facebook introduced news feed. Like the ‘see friendship’ function, it only showed information about friends that people could have seen before by visiting that friend’s profile. However, it compiled all the recent data (status updates, wall postings, etc.) from all friends in one spot. Suddenly it gave a new name to Facebook stalking.
Many people were enraged, and Facebook groups were popping up right and left protesting the new function. However, Facebook stuck by it, and now I’ll admit that even I use news feed as a means of finding funny video clips, viewing photos from my friends’ vacations, and keeping up on actual news via articles posted by friends. While the ‘see friendship’ application seems useless and moderately creepy right now, Facebook has been pushing the boundaries of what is socially acceptable for years. Who knows what they’ll do next.
Are you concerned about Facebook’s features? Have you found a better alternative to Facebook? Let us know in the comments below …