When Mark Zuckerberg introduced the new Open Graph at F8 in September, it was touted as enabling more frictionless social sharing of activities on the internet.  It sounded good at the time: by opting in to Facebook-ready versions of websites and applications, you didn’t need to think before sharing. You knew by opting in that everything you did was sharable. The friction was removed from your act of sharing.

However, it seems that the friction only got shifted to the person you are sharing with, and in addition, the relevance of what you are sharing is being highly diluted.

Before:

  • Alice reads an article on the Washington Post. She clicks “Recommend”.
  • Alice’s recommendation shows up on her wall, and so also shows up on her friends’ news feeds.
  • Alice’s friend Bob sees the link, and trusting Alice’s recommendation, clicks and goes straight to the article.

After:

  • Alice, having opted in to the Facebook Open Graph-enabled Washington Post Social Reader, reads an article on the Washington Post.
  • Whether she would recommend anyone read the article or not, the social reader posts to Alice’s timeline that she read the article.
  • The post shows up in the newsfeed of Alice’s friends.
  • Bob sees the post, and clicks on the link to see what Alice read.
  • Bob is confronted with a page requiring him to grant the Washington Post all sorts of permission to share everything he reads with all his friends, unless he opts for a different privacy permission.
  • Bob says screw that and goes away. Or if he’s like me, he selects the text of the headline, right clicks to look up on Google and goes to the page to read the article without all the permission nonsense.

What we’re left with is less sharing and less relevance. More friction? Not for Alice, maybe, but more for Bob and for the free flow of relevant information.

Thanks to Molly Wood for ranting about this issue here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31322_3-57324406-256/how-facebook-is-ruining-sharing/