This week, Facebook announced an update to Facebook groups:
Facebook groups are spaces where you can share things with the people who care about them most. You can use groups to connect with important sets of people like your family, soccer team or book club.
Starting [July 11] when you visit a group, you can view who’s seen each post. This way you can stay updated on the group’s activity.
For example, in your soccer group you can post the new practice time and then see who got the update.
A short update and a generally quiet one, to be sure, but it’s still generating a bit of a stir, mostly along the lines of “ZOMG SOON I WON’T BE ABLE TO CREEP MY EX’S FACEBOOK PAGE ANYMORE BECAUSE HE OR SHE WILL SEE IT! CAPS LOCK!” Fair enough. Facebook may roll this feature out to more of the site’s facets – like who has viewed your pictures from that fun, albeit maybe a little shameful, weekend in Key West. While I won’t be thrilled either, let’s be honest: if that does happen, everyone is going to talk about how terrible the update is, threaten to quit Facebook and join Google+ for real this time,* and then everyone moves on with their lives (and another tumbleweed skips across Main Street in Google+).
Let’s back up for two seconds. Number one: Facebook hasn’t done this yet. Chill out! Number two: as TheNextWeb points out, in theory, we are, in fact, friends with our Facebook friends, so who cares, right? Number three (and perhaps most importantly): there are privacy controls to consider! Generally, when we publish something to Facebook, we want folks to look at it. Or at least some folks (see my above example about Key West photos). For the folks we don’t want to see everything, add them to a Facebook List. In case you’re not familiar, it’s the same idea as Google+: select who gets to see what updates. Maybe your friends, but not your coworkers are allowed to check out all the shots you did while you were in Key West.
As for who you’re creeping on Facebook… That’s another issue. Again, IF this feature hits Facebook Profiles, there’s a chance that they’ll follow the LinkedIn and online dating model of “I can’t see you if you can’t see me.” Many sites force a two-way street for non-paying members, where they have the option to browse anonymously on the condition that they can’t view who is visiting their page. I’d hope that Facebook would follow suit. If not, then you’ll just have to censor yourself. Do the photos and wall posts from your ex’s new significant other bug you out? Here’s a crazy idea: unsubscribe or unfriend.
But again: let’s cross that bridge when we get there, shall we? Unless you’d like to speculate in the comments, that is!
*I actually do try to use Google+, even if not often. Circle me!