Facebook is finding that too much sharing upsets some users, especially when it comes to what they read. And if the social network isn't careful, the angst could benefit smaller rival Google+.
At issue is Facebook's "frictionless," or seamless, sharing, which it introduced in September. The feature allows you to read a story that one of your friends is reading, but if you aren't careful you may end up allowing other people to see what you are doing even if that wasn't your intent.
So, instead of being frictionless, it can add friction to your experience.
Here's how it works: Let's say one of your friends is reading a story at The Washington Post using its new Social Reader. You think it looks interesting and would like to read it yourself. If you click on your friend’s link you will be prompted to authorize the Social Reader app. If you do, then every story you read will be shared back to Facebook so all your friends can see what you're doing.
Although Facebook users have a history of bucking changes to the network only to finally get used to them, this feature has drawn persistent complaints that the social network and third-party apps cause over-sharing and violate user privacy.
CNET's Molly Wood says Facebook is ruining sharing and that these apps and the way they autoshare to your friends what you’re reading, watching, listening to or buying are part of an Open Graph master plan aimed to track and quantify everything you do on Facebook.
Not only that, when your friends see what you're doing, you’re inadvertently encouraging them to click on those automatically generated links whereby they will then be prompted to install more apps and the whole cycle is repeated, over and over again.
Remember, you only clicked on a link to read something or get a closer look at what your friend found so interesting. Yet by doing so, and playing into the seamless sharing scenario, you're possibly communicating your activities in ways you never originally intended.
There are ways around it, of course. You don’t have to authorize any app and if you decline to add the app, Facebook will take you to whatever link you were trying to get to anyway. You also can adjust your settings to limit who can see your posts, and some apps like Spotify now give users an option to turn off automatic Facebook sharing.
But as ReadWriteWeb points out, having to jump through such hoops is counterintuitive to what is billed as a "frictionless" experience.
For now, Google+ doesn’t have the same problem, and that could mean it will be able to siphon away more Facebook users.
It may take a deluge of people moving over to the other side to prompt Facebook to get the message.