Earlier today, Facebook rolled out a new feature called Friendship Pages that highlights all of the common content between any two profiles you can access. A Friendship Page will show Wall posts, comments, photos in common, events RSVP’d to and other common bits of content. When our own Marshall Kirkpatrick wrote about the feature this morning, he acknowledged the downside, but said that while some complain, “the rest of us are going to have trips down memory lane made all the easier.”
Unfortunately, I am going to have to complain, because Facebook Friendship Pages are the ultimate tool for stalkers, nosey friends and jealous significant others.
Don’t get me wrong, the idea sounds great, but there’s one key thing I take issue with – the ability to look at other peoples’ relationships. Were Friendship Pages restricted to relationships between myself and my friends, I would have no complaint. It simply makes it easier to see our relationship over time. What I take issue with is the feature examining relationships between other people.
It’s one thing to look at and reminisce about a relationship you had with someone, but examining the interaction between two other people is downright stalkerish. It’s like thumbing through someone else’s letters or phone call history. As Marshall asked in his post earlier today, “how many covert romantic relationships, secret workplace alliances and other close relationships that are visible but not emphasized will be made very explicit using this new feature?” His answer, however, was that “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, of course, perhaps your social life has nothing to hide.”
That’s a big perhaps.
At least the feature will respect your basic profile privacy settings, but as Josh Constine pointed out on Inside Facebook, “The friends of friends privacy setting now has greater significance, as a user only needs to be friends with one person and have access to the profile of the other to see their Friendship Page.”
I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to friends complain that its creepy for Facebook to highlight friends’ wall-to-wall interactions in their streams. This takes that to a new level and my suggestion is, if nothing else, to set your profile to “Friends Only” unless you want people you’ve never met or barely know to examine your relationship with your friends.
In the end, the feature is just one more reminder that we live in the open with our souls – our friendships, our thoughts, our embarrassing moments – bared to the world unless we are extremely cautious. Even then, we don’t have complete control over what of our real lives end up digitized on and the Internet for all the world to see and this is exactly what Facebook wants – a more open and less private world.
With Friendship Pages, yet another layer of privacy is peeled away, so to that end, the tool is certainly a success.