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  »Why I Won’t Be Hitting “Like” on Facebook’s Extended Like Feature
April 26th, 2010

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or this is sadly the only website you’ve accessed in the past week, you’ve heard talk of recent Facebook reforms announced by founder Mark Zuckerberg last week at San Francisco web conference F8. Whenever Facebook introduces a change to the site, the social network’s millions of citizens invariably have a collective panic attack and proceed to have heated debates about the minimal reform, some threatening to boycott the site forever and others praising the change, until a few weeks pass and users forget this feature was never part of Facebook.

Weirdly, with this reform, I’ve seen very little uproar on Facebook itself, though perhaps this is because few (include myself) fully understand this new feature, and, besides, people have to finally be sick of declaring the end of the world every time Facebook makes a change, right? However, there has been significant discussion of the new feature on webby blogs like Mashable and on news sites like CNN, and the experts of the web industry all seem to agree on one thing: this is a Very Big Deal. The internet’s about to change.

So that’s cool. We’re witnessing some huge revolution, apparently. Whether this is true or not, eh, I don’t know. I’ll leave that to the experts to figure out. But I will say one thing: sry2say, Facebook, I’m not impressed. As I understand it, this new feature basically enables websites to include buttons in their posts that allow readers to share the content on Facebook, much akin to the well-established reTweet/share on Digg/etc. buttons. The only difference is that Facebook will be creepier about keeping track of what you re-post and use it to stalk you in the future. Right? Can someone please tell me if I’m interpreting this wrong?

So, great, now we can share interesting posts on Facebook. But we could already do that before through the link sharing feature; it just may have taken a little more effort. Now that it requires virtually no effort, my newsfeed can be more easily flooded by thousands of “funny,” “clever” links posted by people I barely know. Sweet.

See, I enjoy seeing reTweets on Twitter and reblogs on Tumblr. But there’s a big difference between the people I follow on Twitter and Tumblr and those I’m friends with on Facebook. On Twitter and Tumblr, I rarely add people I know in real life but rather people I find interesting because we share the same sense of humor or taste in websites/movies/television shows/whatever. Therefore, odds are, I’ll like what they’re re-posting. On the other hand, the people I’m Facebook friends with? Not gonna lie, most of them are deathly dull. I’m friends with them because we went to the same elementary school or hung out once. And even my close friends don’t necessarily share my same e-interests. How many times have you been subjected to the classic, “Oh my God, I have to show you the funniest video on YouTube,” only to be forced to sit through a 10-minute video while patronizing your friend with fake laughter? That’s what Facebook’s new “like” feature is, although at least you won’t have to provide the fake laughter. If I want to share a link with friends, I’ll send it directly to those who I know will actually be entertained by it, not to all 592 people Facebook calls my “friends.”

The way fan pages appear on your Facebook profile seems to be in a transition stage at the moment, so I’m not sure how they’ll ultimately be integrated into profiles, but, just because I liked an article one day doesn’t mean I want it permanently pasted in my profile, forming part of my Facebook identity. It would be fine if it only showed up in my feed, as sharing a link would have, but I don’t want it to be included in my interests as well.

Another little thing that bugs me is that liking someone’s “liking” action results in the page your friend liked being added to your profile too. No! I don’t like pedophiles! I just like that Bob Loblaw liked pedophiles because it made me laugh! And neither can I comment on his action, saying, “Hey, Bob, you might want to be careful in case the po’ po’ are trolling your profile.”

I can see the appeal for bloggers, owners of online companies, and other webmasters. If this were a real blog where I was actually trying to accumulate readers, I could include a “like” button in this post, hope a few people buy into the new feature enough to use it, and hope that those people have some friends who are actually interested in clicking through to this post, thereby boosting my site’s ratings, probably more so than having it shared on less popular sites like Twitter or Digg would do. So I’m not saying this feature won’t be widely used or make an impact; I’m just saying that I personally have no desire to do any “liking” anytime soon, though perhaps one day I’ll consider experimenting with being on the “liked” side of things.

Don’t get me wrong — I love Facebook. Sure, it’s a little overrated and the world would probably be a better place without Farmville and MafiaWars, but where else can I stalk everyone and their mom (and, these days, that expression can be taken literally — shoutout to my 21 family members of the age of 40 who now inhabit the formerly students-only site) or brag to the world via travel photos about how kickass my life is? And I have a lot of respect for any company that can be as successful as Facebook has been. But Facebook has already taken over our lives enough. It doesn’t need to get all up in the entire internet’s grill as well.




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