Facebook rolled out a creepy new feature called Friendship on Oct 29, 2010. Good intent, bad results. Lay another brick in the road to Hell that is paved with good intentions! Here is a review and some counter-measure suggestions. This feature is a stalker’s dream! But it’s the same for just the casual “troll” curious about creeping on people… like maybe jealous friends, ex’es, significant others, family, etc.
What is this Friendship Page feature?
This creates a page showing all the public wall posts, comments, photos (based on tags) and events that two friends have in common. This goes for any two profiles which have common things to share, not just friends you have in common. It’s all based on what people choose to share in their privacy settings, that they have in common.
In plain language, it’s like being able to ask Facebook to show me all the interactions between person X and Y which is not protected from me, with one click of a mouse, then getting the results in an organized online report, summarized where each result has a link to the full information instead of just thumbnail, first few sentences, etc.
Whoa!!! R U kidding me???
Remember the days when you had to work to be a creep? When you had to browse through all the wall posts, photos, events and such, filtering out all the stuff by people you’re not looking for, to find what you were looking for? That’s all said and gone now. You can just click on a link now and voilà! It’s all there for you, in more details than you could have ever hoped to find in the past, like events two friends RSVP’ed together! I bet the FBI, CIA, MI5, CSIS and other secret intelligence services could only wish they had such a convenient tool to track people! Well, take CSIS out of that list. I’m not sure they’re either secret or intelligent enough to qualify.
Can you imagine your significant other doing this to someone who interacted with you a bit “friendlier” than s/he would have liked? Can you imagine Parents doing this to their kids and one of their kids’ friends? Can you imagine that person you’re dating wanting to know more about another “friend”, or an “ex” via all your Facebook interactions with him/her since you could not tell all, even if you wanted to? You couldn’t hope to have a memory like these Friendship Pages!
Worse, the stalkers, Internet trolls or 5 types of Facebook trolls are just in heaven these days! That include those behind bars who have Internet access!
Even for normal people, this Facebook Friendship page can enhance the 10 Ways Facebook can ruin your relationship (Collegecrunch.org) by making the features that are the reasons all the more accessible and organized.
How do you access this Friendship Page feature?
The easiest way is to go to someone’s profile and look on their Wall for the See Friendship link next to the Comment and Like links on various Wall posts, and click on the link. I’m not sure why some Wall posts have the See Friendship link and some don’t, but it’s there for many posts. However, you can see Frienship Pages for people who are not your Facebook friend, which is the creepiest part of this feature to allow spying beyond just your friends, and vice-versa on you by people who are not your Facebook friend.
After you get to the Friendship Page, to the top right is a more convenient feature where you can type in two friends’ names, aided by Facebook’s drop down menu to guess which friend you’re talking about as you give it more letters in typing out the names. Facebook guesses with people you know, people you have common friends, who live in the area, etc. While this feature limits the people you can input to be just of your Facebook friends, finding the See Friendship link on people’s wall does not!
What can you see on these Friendship Pages?
More than what Facebook says you can! One feature more is the common friends those two friends have in common. Of course, everything that shows up, whether a wall post, comment, photo, event RSVP’ed together, etc. there is a link you can click on for more. The page you initially get is an Overview of what the page fully contains. You can then click on links to the upper left, below a photo (if the two have a photo together) or an icon of two heads, to filter out features like Wall posts, photos, comments, etc. Talk about helping creeps to be organized!!
What can you do to prevent being super-spied on with this Friendship Page feature?
Nothing that would prevent this feature from being enabled. All you can do is minimize its impact on you with these solutions.
- Adjust all Facebook Privacy settings to “Only Friends”. If you do this, at least only your Facebook friends will be able to creep on you.
- Purge your Facebook friends list. Ask yourself this… who would I want to be able to creep on me with the Friendship Page feature? Anyone you have a strong reaction against, throw them out or take Step 3. Purging your Facebook Friends list is good to do on a regular basis, anyway, to keep people who can view your profile in full to those who know and trust to some extent. The link I provided at the start of this bullet offers some assistance with questions you can ask yourself to determine who you might want to remove, and why it’s no big deal if you’re wrong to get them back. This was before this Friendship Page feature came out.
- Customize Facebook Privacy settings to “Only Friends” and Block certain people. If you’re not cool with removing certain people from your Facebook friends list, even though you’re not comfortable with them creeping on you with the Friendship Page, block them in your Privacy setting for whatever you don’t want them to see. That could be pictures, Wall posts or comments. I don’t believe the RSVP feature works, though. It’s hard to check, but that would be the one I would be concerned the most because that person could see future events you RSVP to in common with another friend, and not just past ones. Can you say stalking assistance? I would recommend you make a list of people you keep as Facebook friends who you would not be comfortable with creeping on you, and just add them to your “block” list for each Facebook feature like photos, Wall posts, etc. I’d just sooner take them off my Facebook friends list if I were you, if I’m going through that much trouble.
If this Facebook feature changes to limit access, or you know other ways to counter it, please let me and others know by leaving a comment.
In the mean time, Facebook safely and try not to creep, even if it may be very intriguing. If you don’t like people doing it to you, don’t do it to others.
p.s. I find it interesting Facebook rolled out this creepy feature just before Hallowe’en. Unfortunately, it won’t go away just because Hallowe’en has gone away. Who the hell at Facebook let their engineer Wayne Kao add this to the site anyway???