A journalist by training, Meline Toumani shocked friends and family by moving to Turkey and embarking on a journey to understand a people and a country she'd been taught were the enemy. The result is "There Was and There Was Not," part political history, part deeply personal memoir.
Imagine if every website you visited or article you read on the web showed up automatically on your social media profile. News sources–such as The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal–have built custom apps for Facebook with default settings that share users’ habits with their social network. But many users don’t like the idea of these “frictionless” services. We consider the pros and cons of putting it all out there.
- Rob Grady COO, Wetpaint
- Jeff Sonderman Digital Media Fellow, The Poynter Institute
- Jennifer Golbeck Assistant Professor, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland
How to stop sharing Socialcam videos on Facebook
Socialcam is a free app that allows users to upload and share videos with their social network. It’s similar to video sharing apps Viddy and Chill, which share user-generated content and popular videos from websites such as YouTube. Every video you watch on Socialcam is automatically posted to your Facebook feed, letting friends see your online viewing habits. Because the video titles and thumbnails it posts to your timeline can often be misleading or embarrassing, here’s how you can keep from sharing everything you watch:
- Select Privacy Settings from the small drop-down menu in the top right corner next to the Home tab.
- Select the Edit Settings tab next to Ads, Apps and Websites.
- This brings up a list of apps with access to your Facebook account. Select the Edit Settings tab next to Apps You Use and choose Socialcam.
- You can remove the app’s access to your account by selecting the “X” next to Post On Your Behalf. This disables the app from posting updates about the videos you watch and movies you record to your timeline.
- Or you can limit who sees your activity by selecting from the drop-down menu to the right that says Friends. You can create a customized list, or select Only Me from the drop-down menu so only you track what videos you watch.
- Another way to do this is directly from the Socialcam website. From the website’s header, select the green Social Mode Is On tab to turn off the app’s access. Below the video, select Remove From Timeline or Uninstall Socialcam for more options.
Follow these same instructions to adjust sharing settings for social readers, such as the Washington Post Social Reader and WSJ Social.
Facebook privacy setting rules are always subject to change, and these instructions are current as of June 12, 2012. For more information, see Facebook’s privacy statement.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. It's Tech Tuesday. Your uncle was wowed by a video of a 40-pound barracuda leaping into a boat on Socialcam. Your college roommate has been listening to lots of M. Ward and "The Mountain Goats" on Spotify. And a former colleague just read an article about the e-bailout of Spain followed by one about Snooki's cellphone being hacked. And, yes, there were photos.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIHow do you know this? Not because you just spent time catching up with these people over lunch, but because your Facebook news feed told you so. And with the rise of social reader and other so-called frictionless or seamless sharing apps, you may be sharing more than you realize. Here to help us figure out the lay of the land in the social Web is Jennifer Golbeck. She's a professor with the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland where she's also director of the university's Human Computer Interaction Lab. Jen Golbeck, good to see you again.
PROF. JENNIFER GOLBECKGlad to be back.
NNAMDIAlso with us in studio is Jeff Sonderman. He is a digital media fellow at The Poynter Institute. Jeff Sonderman, thank you for joining us.
MR. JEFF SONDERMANIt's a pleasure to be here.
NNAMDIAnd joining us by phone from Seattle is Rob Grady, the COO of Wetpaint, a media platform company. Rob Grady, good to have you aboard.
MR. ROB GRADYThanks for having me.
NNAMDIIt's a conversation that you can join by calling us at 800-433-8850. Have you avoided using sites like Spotify or Socialcam because they're -- because of their default sharing settings? 800-433-8850. You can send us a tweet at #TechTuesday, email to email@example.com, or go to our website, kojoshow.org. Ask a question or make a comment there. Sharing information online takes a lot of forms, and people are using a lot of different terms to explain what we're talking about today. So what are the hallmarks of the frictionless, seamless forced or social Web, Jen?
GOLBECKI like the...
NNAMDIDo they all mean the same thing?
GOLBECKI like the forced part. So frictionless sharing is a term that Mark Zuckerberg has really been talking a lot about, and it came up during one of these Facebook conferences. And it's something that they've really been pushing, and it's totally consistent with Facebook's philosophy that they want us to really share everything that we're doing. And in some ways, that's good, right?
GOLBECKA lot of us who use Facebook have seen these articles that people have posted, like you talked about in the intro. It can be really entertaining sometimes when you see the kinds of things that people are reading, but also you can discover articles that way that you may not have looked at. I never really go to Yahoo! News, for example, but I do find articles that I want to look at there...
GOLBECK...because people have read it. So that's really the benefit of this frictionless sharing that you get to see this stuff that other people are doing, and it will maybe help you discover things that you wouldn't otherwise. The frictionless part means that it's really, really easy -- I would personally argue way too easy -- for people to actually share what it is they're doing because every time they click on a link on one of these sites, not even through Facebook, but on these sites, it shows up on their Facebook wall that they've clicked on these articles.
GOLBECKAnd that can lead to a lot of embarrassment. But the idea is that you shouldn't have to share every article that you're interested in. If you've clicked on it, they'll share it automatically for you. So there's no friction there. It gets shared immediately. I think we haven't figured out the right way to do it yet, and I'm sure we'll talk a lot more about that this hour.
NNAMDIWhat say you, Rob Grady?
GRADYWell, I think the social Web, I think, is something that is going to embrace sharing over time. And I think what we did here when this -- with this first chapter of frictionless sharing is it was pretty big step in a very short period of time. So I think the applications that are going to be most proficient and most trusted by consumers out there are going to be the ones that give users control of what is shared, when it's shared, et cetera.
GRADYAnd there are evolving examples. Yahoo! is a great one that Jen mentioned. There are good examples that, on an article-by-article, photo-by-photo, video-by-video basis, it actually gives you the ability to say, hey, here's who I want this article or this photo to be shared with, and here's who I don't want it to be shared with. And in many -- in many instances, you actually don't want it to be shared with anybody. And that's your right as a user.
NNAMDIJeff, a lot of news organizations are now experimenting with social reader apps, and they're taking shape in a few different ways. What are some of the main ways in which these apps work?
SONDERMANSo we're seeing two basic different models right now. One is the Washington Post social reader style where you have an app that actually lives in Facebook. It's part of your Facebook experience. And it brings stories there from either one news organization or several in the case of social reader. And then it shares everything you read back into Facebook. It becomes kind of an island that lives on Facebook.
SONDERMANThe other way we're seeing this used is most famously by Yahoo! News and some other smaller sites where they simply will auto-share everything you read on their normal website. So as you browse the Web on these certain sites, you've agreed to automatically share with your friends all of the things that you've read there.
NNAMDIDo you know that you've agreed to do this?
SONDERMANWell, that's one of the issues, right? So the first time, you get a little permissions box that pops up and says would you like to use this app that will share things to your timeline? So one issue is that you approve this today, and then a week or two from now you read something on this site, and you forgot you've done that, right? So how clear is the ongoing reminder over time that, oh, yeah, this thing is also going to be shared again today?
SONDERMANThe other thing is that the permissions that you actually sign up for aren't that clear. It says something to the effect of this app may post on your behalf to Facebook, right? It doesn't necessarily say I'm going to post everything you read to Facebook all the time. It doesn't say I will post things to Facebook. It just says I might post some things to Facebook. And so there's a lack of clarity, I think, in what people are signing up for.
NNAMDIHave you inadvertently shared content online? What was the experience like? 800-433-8850. Have you inadvertently shared content online and been embarrassed by it? 800-433-8850. Send us a tweet at #TechTuesday. Jen, you were going to say...
GOLBECKAnd it starts with this sentence that says your activity on the social reader app, such as the articles you read, is shared with Facebook. The display of social reader activity inside Facebook is handled solely by Facebook. So it basically says we'll give them what you're doing, and Facebook controls how it is displayed. And then you go down two paragraphs. It says, what happens when I read an article on washingtonpost.com?
GOLBECKAnd it says, the articles you read on washingtonpost.com or on the websites of our content partners will not automatically be shared with Facebook. And I have, like, five exclamation points next to that in my notes 'cause it's not true. Actually, a lot of the articles you read on washingtonpost.com automatically do get shared with Facebook. Those two sentences seem contradictory. I get what they're doing in there, and, from a legal perspective, I think it's correct and honest.
NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, we're talking about the so-called frictionless Web, and that is sharing on the Web at social websites. Jennifer Golbeck is a professor with the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. She's also director of the university's Human Computer Interaction Lab. She joins us in studio, along with Jeff Sonderman. He's a digital media fellow at The Poynter Institute.
NNAMDIAnd Rob Grady joins us by phone from Seattle. He is the COO of Wetpaint, which is a media platform company. And, Rob, Wetpaint is a part of the post-social reader. How does Wetpaint's work fit in to this new Web landscape?
GRADYYeah. Well, one of our properties is called Wetpaint Entertainment, which is on wetpaint.com. It is one of the sources of entertainment content, entertainment news programming that gets brought into The Washington Post social reader. So we get a variety of readers that come over both to our site and also to other portions of The Washington Post app on Facebook to consume our content. And one of the things that that has been very interesting for us is that -- how Facebook operates as one series of experiments after another?
GRADYAnd so one of the things they do is -- and you've read things in the media about application traffic going up and down and social reader traffic going up and down and crashing in the end of the social reader. And the reality is that, in every one of those cases of it increasing or decreasing in a dramatic way, it's because Facebook has decided to test -- because they want to learn about what their audience and what readers want, they're testing how to actually put that into your news feed.
GRADYSo sometimes, they'll promote it on top your news feed. Sometimes, they'll consolidate it in the middle of your news feed. Sometimes, they actually won't show it in your news feed. So I think -- it is important, I think, to have, as I said at the top of the program, to have a broader perspective. And I don't mean a 15-year history. Let's just take an 18-month history where this is going to evolve pretty quickly.
GRADYAnd I do fundamentally believe that user control is going to be important and that users need to say, hey, here's the stuff that I want in my news feed, and here's the stuff that I don't want in my news feed. And that's the important thing. One other thing that...
NNAMDISpeaking of 18 months, your site went from zero to 12 million unique visitors in the span of 18 months, did it not?
GRADYYeah, absolutely. And we -- one of the things that we do very well is we engage our audience directly on Facebook by having folks actually become fans of -- you know, we have 40 different what we call channels on Facebook that enable us to drive audience from Facebook to interesting content that's specifically for our readers on wetpaint.com.
NNAMDIA lot of your content is built around television series, correct?
NNAMDIAnd you have found, it is my understanding, that "Bachelorette" fans want updates in the morning, lunchtime, maybe a few times later in the afternoon.
GRADYCorrect. And the way that we think about it is the deeper segmentation you can have in Facebook, the closer you are to personalizing content to exactly what people want, when they want it, how they want it, what form they want it. So on one particular show, which we actually call a channel, one particular channel, they'll say I want updates at 9 a.m., noon and 5 p.m.
GRADYAnd that's different on a day of show versus a day after a show. And on some things I actually want photo slideshows. On some topics, I want articles, and on some topics, I want videos. So we think that Facebook is a great way for us to understand what our audience in a much -- what our audience wants in a much, much deeper, more profound way.
NNAMDIBefore I go to the telephones, and the number again is 800-433-8850. Jeff, April 10 -- he referred to it earlier -- was apparently a bad day for social reader apps. What happened?
SONDERMANAround April 10 -- it wasn't precisely then, but in April, Facebook started to, as Rob was just mentioning, experiment more with how it was going to promote these frictionless sharing apps in the Facebook timeline. And what they had done before was they would show you about five articles that different friends of yours had read. What they switch to is a model where they were just showing you maybe one at a time.
SONDERMANIt was a more compact, condensed kind of little box in your news feed. And so what we saw then on the metrics was a sudden decline in overall usage of these apps because Facebook was no longer driving people as forcefully into them through the way that Facebook had designed its news feed anymore. One of the lessons from that, of course, is that news organizations want to be careful about how dependent they become on Facebook as the channel for all of this audience, right?
SONDERMANBecause Facebook isn't necessarily going to shut down frictionless sharing, but, as they tinker with it, these things will fluctuate and come go. And so you really have to be concerned about depending too much on a platform that you don't own when you're supposed to be an independent news (word?).
NNAMDIA sudden drop in your readership and you're not in control of that sudden drop in your readership.
NNAMDIAnd you want to know exactly what happened. Here is Mike in Washington, D.C. Mike, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
NNAMDIYes, Mike. We can't hear you very well. Maybe it's your phone. Maybe it's ours, but keep talking. Oh, maybe Mike dropped off. We're going to take a short break, see what that's all about. But you can still call us, 800-433-8850. It's a Tech Tuesday conversation on social websites and sharing on those websites, the so-called frictionless Web.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. You can send us a tweet at #TechTuesday or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have you been avoiding social websites, and if so, why? Is it because of their default sharing settings? You can also send email to email@example.com. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. It's a Tech Tuesday conversation on social websites and sharing or the frictionless Web. We're talking with Rob Grady. He is the CEO of Wetpaint. That's a media platform company. Jeff Sonderman is a digital media fellow at The Poynter Institute.
NNAMDIAnd Jennifer Golbeck is a professor with the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland where she's also director or the university's Human Computer Interaction Lab. Jen, these different levels of default sharing on social apps seem to be part of the reason they confuse people. Is there any way to sort them out?
GOLBECKThat's a great question. I spent a lot of time in the last week looking at that, hoping I could come in and say, here's a category of them that worked this way, and here's a category that worked this way. And there are some blogs in the text space that say, oh, these sites are doing it better than these. So The Onion is one that's highlighted. This is a satirical newspaper and a great site. They have a social reader, and it was kind of highlighted as one that's a good example of how this might work.
GOLBECKAnd I'd say it's a half-step better example of how this might work. When you go to The Onion, if you're using their social reader, it has a little box on the side that says, hey, we just added this, and you can click a box that makes it go away. So it does automatically share things, and if you click on a link to an Onion article in Facebook, it automatically gets shared. But, generally, all of them are kind of working this way.
GOLBECKThey're, by default, sharing everything, putting it on your Facebook page, anything that you click on. And that makes a lot of people weary. As I said before, they get entertained by looking at what other people share, but I haven't found a lot of people who feel comfortable or that there's a lot of value in them sharing every single thing they click on.
NNAMDILet's take an example. Here is Crystal Marie in Washington, D.C. Crystal Marie, your turn. Go ahead, please. Crystal Marie, are you there?
CRYSTAL MARIEYes, I'm here. Can you hear me?
MARIEOK. I have a Rhapsody account. It's a music subscription service. And I didn't realize it was linked to my Facebook. But I gave my account information to a friend to listen to music. His music is a little bit more offensive than my mine, and by that...
NNAMDIBy offensive, what do you mean?
MARIEWell, I got a phone call from my mom...
NNAMDIOh, that's what you mean.
MARIE...asking me why I was listening to Lil Wayne.
MARIEAnd -- which, you know, I'm 26. I can do what I want. But I was like -- I was like, I was so (word?). I would never listen to Lil Wayne. That's disgusting. And I realized that all -- every single song that was listened to was posted to my Facebook account. So I completely deactivated it, but I think the damage is already done.
NNAMDIThe damage, in this case, being your relationship with your mom or your friend who listened to Lil Wayne?
MARIENo, just whoever read that and now has a new perspective on who I am.
MARIEOh, I see what you're saying. OK. Thank you very much for sharing that with us, Crystal Marie. Indeed, I'd like all of you to respond to this. A lot of people see this phenomenon in black and white terms, as either good or bad. Starting with you, Rob, what's your take?
GRADYWell, I -- one interesting thing that was just noted is that there is a generational difference in terms of what different people want to share with other people. So I think that if you said, hey, let's look at readers or Internet users above 40 or those that are 20 to 40 -- and I'm just making up these segments...
GRADY...or those under 20, what are their habits and what are their preferences. What we see in our audience in Wetpaint Entertainment, which you brought up earlier, is primarily millennial women, so women 18 to 34-ish, and they're actually -- they're more open as a generation to sharing more things. And they just think that -- the way that they would think about it is, hey, social is our new -- the new operating system for my Internet.
GRADYAnd what I see, my friends see, et cetera. And, yes, they want user control, and, likely, they are more sophisticated and take control a little bit more. But I think there's a generational difference so that the younger folks actually like frictionless sharing more, and the folks of different generations are less comfortable with it.
NNAMDIWhat do you say, Jeff?
SONDERMANWell, you know, I think one of the things that your last caller was getting at shows one of the problems that we deal with here which is there's no signal of intent or what or why the person read this thing that they're sharing or listen to this song that they're sharing, right? So we're missing these normal social cues that we get. Usually when somebody shares something with you online or in person, they say, hey, I think you should check this out because, right, because I listened to it and I liked it because I read it and it made me think of this.
SONDERMANIt imbues some meaning to the things that we share with people. When you don't have that signal, it really changes what this is, and I think in some ways, it's not even fair to call it sharing anymore. It's more like surveillance or, you know, it's ambient, right? It's in the background. It's everything going out. And when you removed that active of thought, that actual friction, right, which is what makes sharing meaningful, it's the thought that you put into it and who you chose to share it with.
SONDERMANSo when you have frictionless sharing, it's really not sharing anymore, and I don't think we have a good word to replace that. But -- so I think this is kind of what your caller is getting at is what good does it do for my friends to know that I listen to a Lil Wayne song on Rhapsody, right? Did I even listen to it? They'll listen to it 'cause I liked it? Did I not like it and turned it off after 10 seconds? We don't know any of that.
NNAMDII was listening to it because I was doing a paper, an analysis on the evolution of lyrics and popular music over the last half century. How does that sound?
SONDERMANRight, yeah. And it could be any...
NNAMDISo I was listening to Lil Wayne, mom. What do say, Jen?
GOLBECKWell, I'm at the top end of the millennial women timeframe, and I definitely don't fit in quite at all to the profile that Rob just brought up. But also my undergrads, right? I'm interacting with undergrads and master students. These are, you know, people in their late teens into their mid-20s, and they tend to share my view on this. And I think Jeff just brought up a lot of interesting points.
GOLBECKWe as this age group, say, 18 to 34 or 35 definitely are more willing to share than an older audiences. And I share a lot of things on Facebook and Twitter. I'm posting links and stuff all the time. And there's great value in that, right? If I'm posting an article, I'm telling everybody, this is something that I find is interesting, and that gives value to my friends. If my friends see every single thing I've listened to, every link I've clicked on -- oftentimes I'll click on links just 'cause, like, I wonder what that's possibly about, and I read two sentences and say, this is worthless and go away...
NNAMDISo you don't want necessarily to share that with your friends?
GOLBECKIt's -- and there's not a lot of value in it, right? There are interesting things that can be discovered from these social readers. But there's also a lot of noise in there, and intentional sharing has much more value. Every single thing in there has more value. And so I think that there's this intermediate space where you got to add some more friction in and that gives more intent to the things I share, and thus you're only seeing the things that I'm interested in.
GOLBECKThere are some models of this that they're talking about with frictionless sharing where maybe I rate something and if it gets rated over a certain threshold, then it's automatically shared. And then I think you start hitting the space where there's value in these things being shared quickly, but you're not over sharing in an embarrassing or unintentional way.
NNAMDIAre you concerned about the idea of having what you read or watch shared without you having to think about it, without you being able to contextualize it in any way? 800-433-8850. What is the nature of your current concern? You can also send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a tweet at #TechTuesday. Here is Joe in Takoma Park, Md. Joe, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JOEHi. Good afternoon, Kojo. This is such a great program. I -- my question -- I have two questions, one is whether these settings that we're talking about that calls us to get permission for this frictionless sharing, whether these settings are in Facebook or whether they're on the application that's subscribed into Facebook.
NNAMDIGood question. Want to start, Rob Grady?
GRADYYeah, I think there are two places where you can change your settings. One is on a typical implementation on a website. Let's take The Onion, which is one that was referenced by Jen earlier. There should be a setting on their website after you log in that says, do you want to share this. And I'm less familiar with The Onion, although I just tried to look at it. So do you want to share this, and I think they enable you to do that on an article-by-article basis or not. So I think it's a social on or off, and then you can delete it from your timeline, I think, is what Jen had referenced.
GRADYSo that's number one. Number two is, in Facebook, you can actually go in the application settings and for any website that is using the open-graph implementation, which is what this is called, you can change the settings to enable it to not share at all or even delete the application or change, you know, what the default position is. So do you want to share it to everybody? Do you want to share it just to certain people? Do you want to not share it to anybody but yourself? So there are two different ways to actually go down that road.
GOLBECKAnd I would just add on to that, a lot of people started using this frictionless sharing without knowing it, and even if they found that out eventually, they've started using other frictionless sharing without knowing it. So I'd really suggest to all Facebook users to go in to the application setting part of their profile, and you'll see all the apps that you're using there, including all of these social readers and social sharing things.
GOLBECKAnd you may find some in there that you don't remember signing up for that you don't want to be using, and that's a place where you can change the settings like Rob said or just delete them if you didn't intend to sign up for them.
NNAMDIJeff, care to comment?
SONDERMANRob makes a great point. And I would add a couple of others that are doing a good job of giving the users more control over the privacy settings. The Wall Street Journal's social reader, which is called WSJ Social, gives the user a clear preferences option at the top of it that says, do you want to continue posting these stories automatically to your timeline, and there's a simple yes or no. You click on right there.
SONDERMANYahoo News, I believe, also very similar to what he described with The Onion, where on every page you visit, there's a social is on or social is off button that alerts you and reminds you. So I think these are great things to go beyond what Facebook already has built in as privacy settings.
NNAMDIJoe, thank you very much for your call. We move onto Andy in Washington, D.C. Andy, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ANDYHi. This is good. This is actually relieving some of my concerns about the applications a little bit.
ANDYBut I do think that I'm an older person. I read George R. Wilson, 1984, when I was 12 years old, and I was horrified by Big Brother watching everybody. It seems to me what we've got is we've got Big Brother supported by advertising in the social media and actually in the Internet as a whole. I mean, I assume that the CIA and the NSA and whoever wants to is, like, watching everything I do on the Web if they want. You know, they can do it. The other thing that this reminds me of...
NNAMDIWell, I wanted to -- you made the point that the distinction is that it is supported by advertising. And, Rob, I wanted to get to you because reading a quote from you earlier in which you say that the social web creates relationships between people and brands and shares those relationships with others. So, as Andy points out, we cannot ignore either the advertising aspect of this or the branding aspect of this, can we?
GRADYNo. We -- the way we think about it is that -- and there's a little bit of feedback on the line from, I think, the cellphone. But the way that we think about it is a Facebook, you can have a person-to-person relationship, but you can also have a brand-to-person relationship that's a much deeper brand of -- brand relationship than you would have in the non-social world. As an example, let's take a popular brand out here in Seattle, lululemon, right?
GRADYSo a popular men's, women's athletic clothing store, so I could actually go subscribe to -- on Facebook, I could like the lululemon men's store, right? And I could actually get special offers and communications about sales and things like that from that brand directly into my news feed because I subscribed to it.
GRADYAnd that's a much more direct personal relationship with a brand that I'm passionate about than I've ever had before. So it's not necessarily big brands going through big sites to get to people. It's about a brand having a relationship with a person and a person having a relationship and providing feedback on that brand experience directly to the brand.
NNAMDIAnd I suspect that might make some people uncomfortable. But before we get back to Andy, Jen and Jeff, how easy is it for a small start-up Web newspaper for instance, seeking to expand its brand to develop a social reader app and get it up and running? First, you, Jeff.
SONDERMANRight now, not very easy, or at least in light of that we don't see very many of them, right? And that's because right now this is kind of an experiment and a luxury item if you're a news organization. If you're a smaller news organization with one or two developers on your staff, they have enough to do with keeping your website up and running with troubleshooting bugs and with the basic day-to-day things. So, for now, we're seeing that this is a luxury that the big guys like The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Yahoo can afford to develop for.
GOLBECKSo I think that's right. If you're a little organization, your people are probably busy. But the technology behind this, right, if I were to sit down and decide I'm going to program Jen's social reader, I'd give myself probably a week and would have something that was functional. Being able to handle large volumes of traffic like you have to do if you're The Post or The Wall Street Journal is a whole other issue.
GOLBECKBut the actual technology is pretty straightforward. You show links. You keep track of it when people click links. You post it back to Facebook. So the technology is relatively easy to develop, but then building something that's really out there and can support a lot of users in volume takes some more engineering effort.
NNAMDINow, back to you, Andy, what's the difference between your local newspaper being brought to you by the advertisers you only pay for to be delivered to your front door, your local television newscast being generally sponsored by advertisers and the sharing of relationships with your friends being involved in advertising and branding also?
ANDYOne thing, I don't have my -- I don't, well, for one thing, anybody who's got good enough Web skills can find what I'm sharing with my friends and apparently can find out everywhere I visited on the Internet. I'm a far leftist, and I visit left-wing news sites. And I visit right-wing news sites that make me fearful of the -- you know? I -- anybody can -- anybody who's got good enough media skills and apparently enough money...
ANDY...can follow every damn thing I'm doing. That's not too great. I'm not shocked by it, but I don't think it's -- I'm not...
NNAMDIYou're not comfortable with it. Jen?
GOLBECKSo, we could do a whole show on this topic, so I'll try...
NNAMDIAnd we have actually, but go ahead.
GOLBECKYeah, I'll try to be brief on this. And I'm working on some projects related to this right now. So I'll give you a couple suggestions, Andy, also. It's true that some of everything you do online can be tracked. So Google has Google Analytics, which is this little piece of code you can put in your website, and it tells you where people came from. And most websites have this, which means Google can basically track every page that you go to, and they haven't done anything with that yet that we know of. But it's something that you can be a little afraid of, that your whole browser history is out there.
NNAMDIYou get a silver badge?
GOLBECKYeah. So it blocks advertising companies. It blocks social media, and that's a way to keep you from being followed like you're talking about.
NNAMDIBy the way, to block social reader apps or other content-sharing apps from showing up on your timeline and in your friends' news feed in Facebook, you can go to the application section of your account settings page and edit each to share the amount that you are comfortable with. But, getting back to the previous issue, Jeff, not everyone is jumping onboard with the apps I asked you about earlier trying to get it going. Who has said thanks but no thanks?
SONDERMANWell, the biggest one -- the most prominent one that we've talked about is The New York Times. You know, they are certainly in the same league as in size as The Journal and The Washington Post. They had the same discussions as Facebook was rolling out frictionless sharing and was kind of talking about how these organizations could use this, trying to get some launch partners onboard.
SONDERMANAnd The New York Times said, for now at least, thanks but no thanks. They said, we think that this has the potential to be invasive, potentially, you know, violating the privacy of some of our readers, and we're going to sit out for now. The New York Times has created...
NNAMDIFor now is the important one.
SONDERMANWell, yeah. And they -- I'm not sure they didn't guarantee they never would. And they continue to use Facebook in a normal way very well and very aggressively. But the Social Reader is a trend that they've set out so far.
NNAMDIOn to Patricia in Washington, D.C. Patricia, your turn.
PATRICIAHi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call. I say once again, kudos to The New York Times for refusing this app. I use Facebook mostly to post articles that I'm interested in or that I want to share with people, but I don't really understand the utility of the social -- you know, of the Social Reader on Washington Post. When my friends post, I find it frustrating because when you try and access the article, they...
NNAMDIYou have to go through Social Reader.
PATRICIAYeah, you have to go through Social Reader, and I don't want to do that. And I also don't understand why people would put up with this invasion of privacy, which I think can kind of kill intellectual curiosity, if you don't want people to see articles you're reading, when everything we access online has a little share button next to it. And it's very easy to share to your Facebook page with one simple click.
GOLBECKI was afraid you'd throw this one over to me. Yeah. So I totally agree with what the caller is saying. And I've been pushing around for a week trying to find someone who tells me I love frictionless sharing and I'm really happy to use it and it brings me value. And I haven't found anybody to say that. I think that...
NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call if you are happy with it.
GOLBECKYeah. And this is something -- Jeff, you know, you were talking about these statistics that showed this huge drop off in usage that probably did come from Facebook tweaking their settings. But you saw these grand celebrations in the blogosphere about frictionless sharing being used less. Like I said, I don't think it's totally worthless.
GOLBECKI think if I could more easily share some things that I find interesting but maybe not interesting enough to post the whole article but let somebody know I was looking at it, maybe. But I don't think where at that point yet where just sharing everything I've looked at has a lot of value.
NNAMDIRob Grady, is it that Jen is just not used to this as yet and 10 years down the road we won't even be having this conversation anymore because a new generation will be loving this?
GRADYI think frictionless sharing is here to stay. And let me go out on the limb here. So I think the thing that is missing right now -- I think the concept is good. I think the implementation is in version 0.1. And the things that folks have talked about, which I think are right on that need to be changed, is you need to be able to provide context for what you're sharing. Right now with the automatic, you know, automatic, completely 100 percent frictionless sharing, there's not a lot of context for it.
GRADYHey, here's what this song inspired in me. Here is what this song meant to me. It was my parent's favorite song. It was my brother's favorite song, et cetera. So I think that is missing right now. Another thing that I think we need to keep in mind is a lot of these big sites we talked about, they're using social reader functionality to just do sharing on their monster site. They haven't actually segmented into channels. So let me use a sports example.
GRADYSo rather than me getting ESPN sharing going on, right, for espn.com, what if I could enable the Social Reader, say, everything that I shared on the channel of the University Washington Huskies football or basketball teams, that should be shared out frictionlessly because I know that most of my friends are actually, also, common consumers of that type of content. Would that provide more value, and would that frictionless sharing actually be more interesting to people and have the personalization and have some context built in?
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Patricia. We've got to take a short break. When we come back, you can still join the conversation by calling 800-433-8850. Have you inadvertently shared content you've been embarrassed by online? And if so, what did you do about it? You can also send us a tweet at #TechTuesday or email to email@example.com. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIIt's Tech Tuesday, and we're talking about frictionless Web sharing on social websites with Jeff Sonderman, digital media fellow at The Poynter Institute. Jennifer Golbeck is a professor with the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. She's also director of the university's Human-Computer Interaction Lab there.
NNAMDIAnd Rob Grady is the COO of Wetpaint. That's a media platform company. If you'd like to join the conversation, call us at 800-433-8850. Jen, people seem more comfortable with sites that share the music they listen to rather than the news stories they read or the goofy videos they watch. Why do you think that is?
GOLBECKI think you make a more conscious choice to actually stop and listen to a song. When I find myself browsing CNN or The Post, I click on a lot of things that I don't really know what they're about and I wonder if it might be interesting, or, frankly, things that are a little on the trashier side, and I just can't resist knowing about Snooki's cellphone being hacked. And I don't think it's really reflective of me or my taste. It's just I was overwhelmed with curiosity and clicked on it.
GOLBECKWhere with music or even some of the videos I look at on YouTube, I'm making a more conscious choice to invest some time. You can't just skim a song or skim a video like you can skim a news article and decide if it's interesting or not. So I find the Spotify things -- even though Crystal Marie, who called earlier, had a problem with her Rhapsody account being shared -- I find the music and the videos are not as embarrassing because you're investing a little bit more time. But there are certainly cases where people are embarrassed by that, too.
NNAMDIOr is it because, Jeff, you happen to think your taste in music is, well, superior?
SONDERMANRight. So, I mean, it is, you know, it's a concern for exploration and for people who want to be adventurous, right? So what is the mental cost of me going out and trying a new song from a new band that I have never even listened to before? I barely know what kind of genre they're in. Am I going to be making a horrible mistake when that gets automatically shared? You're like, oh, my God, I had no idea that was this embarrassing teeny pop band, like it sounded kind of cool by name, you know?
SONDERMANSo those things at the edges where it's the stuff we would normally, in private, feel comfortable exploring, but now we have this mental burden each time where we're like, before I actually take that step, I have to keep thinking about, like, what price am I going to pay for this being shared with people?
NNAMDIMusic. Why do we prefer to share that, Rob?
GRADYThat's a good question. I think music has a special place in people's minds and hearts because it inspires different things for them. And I think one thing that Jeff said that I think is evolving is that I think the use of genres in music, I think, is going away. And so, just as you can't label many, many most popular songs today -- actually, you can label them as pop because it means popular.
GRADYBut other than the top 40, you can't label them any particular genre. And I think that enables or that gives people a good reason to share something out 'cause you can't say, hey, here's this new hip-hop or here's this new reggae song. It's a combination of things, and the only way you can experience it is to try it and listen it -- listen to it yourself.
NNAMDIHere is Ian in Washington, D.C. Ian, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
IANHey, Kojo. Hey, everyone. Thanks. This is a great topic of conversation. And I know there were a few callers earlier that were worried about sort of people tracking them. And, you know, the motives behind it are just as sinister as you see money is to be sinister, you know? It's all motivated by performing algorithms on what you search and how it's related to whatever media is being published out there.
IANThere's actually algorithms that correlate what you post on your status with top words that come from buzz advertising, TV shows or other products that are mentioned even. I mean, that's how Twitter responds to some of these complaints so fast about Domino's. And you see those, like, Domino's response really fast 'cause they can search all that, and then they perform these metrics for advertising companies.
IANSo when Facebook says that they're selling these third-party applications right to your Facebook statuses, it's not going directly to Eddie Bauer or Versace. It's going to these companies that perform all these data metrics and actually make bank for us. So they're actually making money off of what it is that we as a community are posting. And so I find it very non-surprising that Facebook sort of fell apart when we tried to sort of buy that which we created as a community on Facebook.
IANAnd so it's going to be sort of interesting to see whether or not -- who's going to be respected: us the community that's being -- that is generating the data that is creating an optimal Facebook, or is it going to be the advertisers and the people, CEOs who own Facebook, who say, oh, well, you know what, you guys are getting compensated for your input, not by financial means, but by a better quality product? So we're going to see -- I think that's going to be an interesting dynamic that's going to play out.
NNAMDIWhat do you think it's going to be, Jen?
GOLBECKWe sized that a few times on your show before. I think that this is the big challenge to Facebook, that people don't like the idea that their personal information is something that Facebook basically considers something that they own and that they share as they need. But it is a marketer's dream, exactly like Ian said. They have all this data about us, so they can really find the exact specific people that they think are going to be most interested in their products.
GOLBECKAnd that's why people think Facebook has value because they have that data that is so valuable to these marketers. You know, my guess, if I have to give a prediction, Facebook is not going to change. Facebook is really pushing more and more public, make everything visible to everybody online and share everything you do.
GOLBECKSo if I see a downfall coming for Facebook, it's when that there's a really easy-to-use, user-friendly social media platform that allows you to own and control all of your data, you can see who gets it, you can dictate what's done with it. If something like that comes out, I think Facebook is going to have a really hard time.
NNAMDIWhat's the likelihood of something like that coming out, Jeff Sonderman? What would be the advantage for the people who put that out?
SONDERMANThere wouldn't be nearly as much, OK? So this is the problem that we have, which is these things costs a lot of money to run. You have to have servers. You have to have people who make all the stuff happen. And so there's an old saying with all these types of Web services like Facebook, which is, if you're not paying for the product, you are the product. All right? So you don't pay for Facebook. You get it for free. The price of that is Facebook -- it's to make its money off of all the data it gathers from you and about you.
SONDERMANAnd that's how all these other free social networks and free Web tools work. So if we could get something like that, it'd be great, but I guarantee that we would probably have to either pay for it ourselves or run our own servers. You know, some of us would have to run our own servers to power it, et cetera. So it'd be much more complicated.
NNAMDIThank you for your call, Ian. We move on to Gordon in Shepherdstown, W.Va. Gordon, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
GORDONThank you. One of my habits or hobbies, I should say, is making mead, and I'm -- we use various different types of honey for that. I spent a good while looking for honey made from Heather flowers, and you would be amazed at how many porn sites I had to visit for Heather honey.
NNAMDII hope you didn't share those with anybody else if you didn't -- did you do it through social websites?
GORDONI did not, thank goodness.
NNAMDIYeah, because you would probably have too many Heather honeys knocking on your door right now, not to mention all of your friends.
GORDONThat's right. So I just thought I'd bring that up.
NNAMDIWell, we're talking specifically about social websites, so you didn't use one of those for that. But here now is Ian in Columbia, Md. Ian, your turn.
IANHi. I am not at all a fan of the frictionless sharing on the Internet, but I am a fan of finding, serendipitously through friends and others who I follow on the Internet, cool stuff that's out there 'cause there's a lot of great stuff on the Internet. And one of the best ways that I found for doing that is this site called Stellar, which I'm not sure if anyone's heard of, but it is a site that aggregates my favorites and the favorites of people I'm following from various sites like Twitter and from YouTube and Flickr and Vimeo.
IANAnd it takes everything that I've favorited on those various sites, and it compiles them all into a timeline. And then I can follow the timeline of others. So if my brother finds a picture that he really likes on Flickr and he clicks favorite or he clicks like on Flickr, it is automatically set into his Stellar stream. And when I get to -- I get see what he's seen and what he likes, and he's had the ability to say, this is something that I...
NNAMDIAnd whose Stellar streams are you allowed to see?
IANAnyone who is on Twitter or on Flickr or YouTube or Vimeo, you can see -- Stellar just pulls in their favorites.
IANIt just uses (unintelligible) from those sites to pull in their favorites.
NNAMDIOK. Thank you very much for your call and for sharing that with us, Ian. Rob, news and entertainment sites, primarily music and video seem to be the main adopters so far. Where do you see this going next?
GRADYOur point of view is that frictionless sharing and social will be here to stay. We believe that consumers need more control, and consumers need to take more control about what they want to share with whom, et cetera. And we think the leading publishers will actually do that over time. We also think that different publishers who segment very deeply -- as I've said a couple of times, obviously we're very passionate and very successful at segmenting our audience very deeply.
GRADYThe better people can do that, the more they can deliver content that's interesting to their audience. And one interesting thing from our business is if you look at the value of a fan and look at how many visitor, how many visits they have and what's the frequency, the value in terms of monthly visits is about two and a half times what we would get from, as an example, somebody coming from a search on Google looking for honeybee or whatever.
NNAMDIAnd I'm afraid we're just about out of time. But you think this is, in many respects, the future. I guess we'll just have to see. Rob Grady is the COO of Wetpaint. It's a media platform company. Rob, thank you for joining us.
GRADYThanks for having me.
NNAMDIJennifer Golbeck is a professor with the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. She's also director of the university's Human-Computer Interaction Lab. Jen, thank you for joining us.
NNAMDIJeff Sonderman is a Digital Media Fellow at the Poynter Institute. Jeff, good to have you here.
NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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