On Facebook apps

For a while, I was kind of into Facebook apps — weird little things you can add to your profile that give you another way of interacting with other users. Most of them are just for fun and have no real use.

But I started to tire of them because they clog up the site and interfere with the way I like to use it — to keep in touch with people I know in real life and enjoy talking to when I happen to see them in person. I don’t really care if they have added an application, or if they have taken some action using it (“Joe attacked a pirate! Add Pirates vs Ninjas now!”). I want my newsfeed in Facebook to carry information about the people I care about and what they’re doing or thinking, not that they added an application and are now inviting me to add it. Repeatedly.

My exasperation with this peaked at the same time I decided that I was going to take the big step of de-friending some people (gasp!). These were folks who I hadn’t talked to or interacted with inside of Facebook, let alone outside of Facebook. Yes, I knew them at one point in my life. No, I don’t think I need to know that they are “sleeping late,” “dreading Monday,” “thinking about taking a vacation” or “going to the movies with Joe!”

So, I de-friended those folks, and I removed some apps from my profile. I have been pondering removing a few more applications, mainly because they clutter up my profile and I’m hard-pressed to believe anyone actually looks at them (I don’t look at my friends’ apps on their profiles). So I found a post from yesterday on Read/Write Web particularly interesting: Have Facebook apps peaked in popularity? By the numbers, it looks like I am not the only person tired of the constant barrage of applications and attendant invites.

What would make an app slide from over 165,000 daily users to 24,000 in just a couple of months? It’s hard to say, but perhaps users have begun to grow tired of noveltly apps that don’t do much else except spam their friends with invites to join the application.

It’s a pretty quick post to read, and I recommend going through and taking a look at it. I like that Facebook has all this fun stuff you can use to interact with your friends (sure, using Superpoke to virtually vote for my friend & former housemate doesn’t really accomplish anything in actual life, but to me it sort of fills the void of saying “hey” when he got home from work). What I don’t like is that it’s hard to control what you’re forced to look at. Sure, I can x-out or give a thumbs up to actions taken by my friends that are posted to my newsfeed, but the newsfeed isn’t learning fast enough for my taste. I hope that Facebook can continue working on allowing users all these fun, different ways to interact, but I hope they are also working hard to improve the privacy settings and customizations for what you’re forced to look at. I suppose we’ll find out.

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Block Facebook Beacon

Found via librarian.net, instructions on how to block Facebook Beacon on the browser level (in Firefox). Beacon is one of the things powering the new Facebook social ads. Go read more about how it works, and why you might want to do more than just adjust the privacy settings in Facebook. (Which you can’t even do until one of the external websites using Facebook Beacon tries to send stuff to your profile, thus rendering the privacy settings nearly useless, in my opinion.)