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Chris Peterson SM '13

Aug 9, 2010

Do You Like “Like”?

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Almost a year ago I wrote Going Social about adding the "Share" button to blogs so that they could be easily shared via Facebook. As I said then,



So starting today, you'll see a "Share on Facebook" link at the bottom of every blog entry. By clicking this link, you may choose to publish the article to the News Feed of your five thousand closest Friends on Facebook. Everybody wins. Your Friends will see cool content they may have never stumbled across otherwise. You get to be the dude or dudette who provides the hook-up. And we get to spread our message to people who might otherwise never have seen it.

I hope all of you found this useful. It certainly was used quite a bit! We had lots of referrals from the Share links, and I think, as I said before, that everyone won.

But that was the beforetimes, and some things have changed. Facebook has moved away from the "Share" model and to the ubiquitous "Like" model - you know, the one that is now on every site across the Internet.

It's no secret that I don't like "Like." And that's because I think that it is misleading. When Facebook underwent a substantial redesign a few months ago, they changed it so that, by default, things you like were displayed publicly on your profile. And that probably isn't what most users wanted. Most users wanted to share things with their Friends like a status update, not the whole world. So we've stuck with the "Share" button, because suited our purposes, wasn't creepy, and worked just fine.

However, we've run into a problem, and that is that Facebook broke the Share button.

If you look at the bottom of the page, where you once saw this:






you now see:






At first, I thought I just needed to update the code. But then I went to the Facebook Share Wizard, and lo, it looks like this:






so it's broken there too.

Finally, on the Facebook Share Developers Wiki, a big blaring red banner across the top reads Note: To share pages from your website, you should consider using the Open Graph protocol and the Like button instead of Share, since it's a simpler and easier to implement solution..

I've emailed Facebook Support and haven't heard back; I can only assume that Facebook Share is deprecated, and that it will not be fixed because Facebook Like is the Glorious New Future.

So what I'm asking all of you is: do you like Facebook Like?

Perhaps more precisely - would you be comfortable with something that looked like this:




at the bottom of every page?

One thing we would do is not include the faces/profile pictures of friends. That means that if friends of yours visit our website, they would not see your profile picture. However, they may see your name, if you have Liked the page. Furthermore, as Facebook says, "this means when a user clicks a Like button on your page, a connection is made between your page and the user. Your page will appear in the "Likes and Interests" section of the user's profile."

As I said, if I had my druthers I would just use the Share button. But we seem to be in a bit of a bind, as Facebook breaks their services to push users and institutions towards preferred practices.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Are you OK with the Like button? Would you like to be able to easily share content from our site with your Facebook friends? Do you dislike the sort of connection that will be formed between our site and your Facebook presence, or is it A-OK?

In any case, I would recommend that everyone take the time to check their Facebook privacy settings. In addition to the Facebook Privacy Dashboard, I would absolutely run the Facebook Privacy Scanner, Ka-Ping Yee's Zesty Privacy Tool, and Facebook's own ViewAs Functionality; ensure that your Friends aren't revealing more information about you than you'd like; and generally take a few minutes out of your day to police your presence online. The Internet and Facebook are wonderful tools, but it's all too easy to slip up when it comes to managing your privacy and reputation, especially in the case of the latter, the environment and design of which often confounds the privacy practices of the most sensible and sensitive individuals.

So check yourself out, and then let me know what you'd like us to do about social sharing.

Comments (Closed after 30 days to reduce spam)

I don't like "liking" things because like you said it then links it to my facebook page and then anyone looking at the "liked" page who is my friend can see my name and that I "like" it and I just don't like that. Wow, way too many likes in one sentence.

Posted by: Jess '14 on August 9, 2010

I wouldn't mind the Like button. Though I will note overall that Facebook is becoming scarier and scarier O.O

Posted by: Piper '12 on August 9, 2010

1) I don't like liking things.
2) My share button seems to be working! So maybe you don't have a problem. I'm using Firefox in Windows 7, if that matters.

Posted by: Liz '14 on August 9, 2010

@Liz--yeah it works with Firefox on Vista as well. I thought I was going crazy smile

But I do agree Chris, "liking" is not my first choice, especially since you can't "dislike" anything either!

Posted by: Ben '14 on August 9, 2010

If I want to share this blog post, I would copy the link and paste it in a comment/message/email. I never use any facebook widgets/buttons on non-facebook websites. I say just cut the umbilical cord between this and facebook already. MIT already has enough people applying each year, no need to advertise more haha, it's hard enough to get in!

Posted by: Daniel '14 on August 9, 2010

I agree with Daniel '14, you can just copy the link and "share" it with your friends. Other than that, I don't like "liking" things. I don't know. The internet changes so fast.

Posted by: Jason(: on August 9, 2010

Hi all. This comes through loud and clear. We won't be 'liking' things anytime soon.

Thanks for the update on the share bar, by the way - looks like AdBlock may have been killing it. Now, the # of shares is still broken, but that's not worth changing for.

Thanks all!

Posted by: Chris Peterson @ MIT Admissions on August 10, 2010

don't you just *love* it when platforms break their own APIs and neglect to inform developers? smile

Posted by: Karen '12 on August 13, 2010

Comments have been closed.

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