Facebook’s new Ticker feature is guaranteed to offend the sensiblilties of people in the Spokane area who are already uncomfortable with how much of their personal information is available on the web.
During a presentation at the 2011 f8 conference on September 22, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the new way that Facebook’s Open Graph and Ticker apps will share what music and videos users are playing a “frictionless experience.” Basically, anything a user is watching on Hulu or listening to from online music services such as Spotify will automatically appear on his or her Facebook page without having to “like” it first.
Zuckerberg sees this as a huge benefit because someone’s Facebook friends can see what they’re doing at all times and join in on discussions, watch the same videos, make fun of that person for liking Grand Funk Railroad or interact in other ways that sound pretty good in theory.
CNN Money’s Laurie Segall recently wrote about why people might not like that in practice.
According to Segall,
Go install streaming music app Spotify on Facebook. Now brace yourself for a flood of comments and quips about your musical tastes — including the track you fired up just seconds ago.
One week after Facebook rolled out major changes across its website, users are starting to wrap their heads around just how much data the site’s new “social” apps broadcast. The answer: Everything.
Every track you listen to on Spotify. Every story you read on Yahoo News. Every video you watch through “Hulu on Facebook.”
Those running updates show up in three places. First, they scroll through Facebook’s new real-time Ticker, a column of short news blasts. Some of the updates show up in your friends’ News Feed pages. Finally — and most dramatically — they have a featured spot on the new Timeline page that will soon replace Facebook’s existing Wall and Profile pages.
Segall added that Yahoo News will automatically add whatever a user is reading to his or her Ticker unless the social sharing feature is turned off. The Kobo ereader is getting in on the action with Kobo Pulse, an app that will add updates about what ebooks people are reading to their Timelines.
“What if you don’t want to share?” Segall asked.
Fortunately for the people of Spokane, Lifehacker and other sites are looking out for people who don’t want their sharing to be “frictionless.”
According to SumTips, AdBlock Plus users can install code that disables the Ticker. Google Chrome users also have the option of installing an extension called Unannoying Facebook that gets rid of the Ticker and the new pinned bar across the top of the page.
Firefox users may want to consider two new extensions that are featured on All Facebook. Developer Russell Gilbert’s Feed Filter hides practically anything that a privacy-conscious Spokanite might not want the whole world knowing. TechnologyMob created Facebook Ticker Removal, which only gets rid of the Ticker.
For those who don’t feel safe downloading content from these sites, there are ways to adjust Facebook settings to keep automatic sharing from happening. Unfortunately, Segall reported that using them is kind of a hassle.
According to Segall,
On the app’s “this activity is visible to” list, choose “Custom.” That brings up another drop-down list: “Make this visible to.” Choose “Only Me” — but don’t forget to also uncheck all the networks that are listed.
To make changes to the settings on apps you’re already using, click the “Home” button on the top of Facebook’s page, and choose “Privacy Settings.” Then click “Edit Settings” for “Apps and Websites” — and be prepared to root around in the settings for every single app you have installed.
Some people in the Spokane area would probably prefer to stop using their Facebook pages rather than going through the steps required to regain control of how their updates are viewed by others. Unfortunately, going “cold turkey” will be harder in the future as more and more sites integrate with Facebook and require people to use their Facebook log-in information.