Cross platform integration can be a great thing. Promoting and sharing content from one network to another can improve the quality and spread of information, and it can invite new perspectives on a discussion. But there are definite downsides. Let’s take this whole Twitter/Facebook and FriendFeed/Facebook integration mess that’s going on right now. As far as I can figure out, what’s happening is that individual’s Twitter and FriendFeed posts are being mass pushed to Facebook, even if they didn’t turn on that feature. It’s probably because of a change in the Facebook apps that integrate those services. I feel comfortable saying this because it’s happening to people with both their Twitter and FriendFeed accounts connected to their Facebook.
Chances are, some behind the scenes change to the way the Facebook applications get data from Twitter and FriendFeed has led to this. Or maybe it’s some changes they’ve made to the settings on status updates has overridden the application’s settings; if I remember correctly you can display the apps in your profile but not update your status (not sure because I don’t use these apps). I don’t know for sure – I’m not a computer programmer, so this is all just possibilities and a little bit of common sense. Either way, there are a few lessons we can learn from this I think.
- If you’re a platform, please test changes before you go live. This seems obvious, but “testing” when you have a userbase of 250 million like Facebook does means a lot of variables have to be considered. I don’t want to be critical of Facebook – let’s cut them some slack, and recognize that they can’t test every scenario, and things like this will happen (as much as they’d prefer they didn’t).
- If you’re a developer, remember that you’re not working in a vacuum. If you use the Twitter or Facebook APIs, you have to remember that you don’t own them. Expect that changes will be made, and be willing to be flexible. Plan accordingly, and build in contingency plans if you can.
- If you’re a user, recognize that you use different platforms for different purposes. I use Twitter for public stuff and Facebook for friends only stuff. I hardly use FriendFeed (sorry FriendFeed, I just haven’t worked you into my routine). It’s cool if you want to mix them; I don’t. Either way, think about how you integrate all of your services across the web. Keep in mind that those services are all created by different companies and have different goals. Just because you want to send one unified message doesn’t mean that you should hook as many services into one another as possible. Instead, keep in mind that each channel is different and deserves a slightly different approach. This applies to companies too – would you use a radio ad on television? Of course not! So should you really be using a Facebook campaign on Twitter? (Note: not a rule, just a suggestion).
Anyway, things like this are reminders that social media is still a new space. Sure, Facebook has been around for years, and the White House uses Twitter as part of its communication strategy now. But we still play and work in this fluid, dynamic environment that is subject to change – and we must be prepared to accept issues like this one, and be patient until they are resolved.
In the meantime, here’s how to block the Twitter and FriendFeed apps on Facebook – just click “Block Application” on the left. (This issue has been resolved). And why don’t you leave a comment and let me know what you think while you’re at it?
EDIT (7.30, 8:30 AM EST): I was reading the two articles at Mashable about this, and scrolling through the comments, I saw many negative responses to the whole situation. Can someone please explain this to me? Do we really expect social media companies to be perfect in everything they do? It’s not like Facebook started putting everyone’s information on the Internet….they just posted a public feed somewhere it wasn’t meant to go (on another public website). I don’t really get it.