Facebook announced updated privacy settings today and for the first time one might actually consider them impressive. I mean after years of menus and menus and more menus filled with menus of drop downs with menus…(you get the point) – they have simplified the process with privacy options right at the wall page level. Of course, I expect people will still bitch and complain because hey! That’s Facebook! But at first glance, it looks good.
These changes clarified something I’d been thinking about though – the circles concept that has recently exploded on Google +. With the recent changes to Facebook they have reduced 6 sharing options down to 3 and really there are only 2 that matter: Public and Friends.
When you used to share things on Facebook you could share with “Everyone, “Friends of Friends and Networks”, “Friends and Networks”, “Friends of Friends”, “Friends”, or a customized group. Confused yet? Don’t bother reading that list again it won’t help – it’s F’ing ABSURD! And it’s actually still in place because the changes haven’t rolled out yet.
Ok so those options have been reduced to “Public” or “Friends”. Quite frankly it’s perfect.
Sure, at face value this is less granular but “Custom” will remain for the power users. In Facebook’s recent announcement on this subject, they allude to expanding options by adding other groups or lists you create over time. But really this will likely just create more wasted clunky navigation. “Public” and “Friends” are all that matter!
We’re starting to leave the “Google + post-launch hype” cycle. Now its time to see if the service will actually be useful. It seems to me that an obvious truth is beginning to set in: Circles (Like all lists)are a pain in the ass — TO MAINTAIN. Great job Google! You perfected a way to get users to create them, now what. Maintaining those circles once people are in is just not something people want or are going to do.
“But it will be different with Google +!” BullS|-|!t
Take it a step further – I bet that because Google+ forces users to put people in at least one “Circle”, eventually, most users will just add everyone they want to follow in just that way – 1 circle. A smaller group might create a friends and family and an even smaller subset might create a circle for co-workers, but thats it! That is the reality of online list creation.
It’s too bad too because WHEN lists are actually created and maintained they are extremely useful. This is why everyone (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc) has tried to figure it out. Bottom line: the people who create the functionality are not like the typical user and think in terms that are far too grandiose. Because lists are ephemeral they tend to actually work well on mobile like group messaging and we will likely see many startups based around the idea of group creation on the fly via location.
The vast majority of users just need simple. One list: Friends – the perfect circle.
And this is what Facebook has just done. Technically they give you 2 options (Not including custom) but if you think about it, “Public” is not a list – it’s everyone. Nothing to maintain. The only actual list that people will use is “Friends” and that’s what social media has been fundamentally about since day one. And you don’t have to go out of your way to make that list either. It’s just how Facebook works. Accept or ask for a connection – those are your “Friends”.
Much of the G+ hype is centered around the idea that granular controls can work. But there is a reason the idea continues to fail and I don’t think it is a design flaw.
Now the vendor crowd that makes a living teaching and preaching on how to use all these granular technologies will bitch and say I’m out of touch. And how dare I tell people not to keep work and personal messaging separate – Look, I’m not saying that. That’s why custom will always exist to serve the needs of power users and businesses and the small group of users who truly desire list management will do so. It’s perfectly reasonable for automotive Facebook marketing.(Shameless SEO plug lol) And that brings up another point. The people who require that functionality don’t fall into a “perfect” group of preset circles. They all want something unique and different – which “Custom” serves “perfectly”. What I am simply saying is, the majority of people need only one list and everything else will be public.
Facebook isn’t perfect. They should still implement a “Follower” kind of system so people who want to follow your public posts and aren’t your friends can do this easily. At some point (hopefully soon) this will need to be addressed. Otherwise, what is the point of a “Public” post?
Virtually everything I share across social networks is public, but I can certainly understand the need for selective sharing. But it’s time the developers started being realistic about how this will actually be done for most users.