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Facebook tones down automatic sharing

Facebook recently announced that fewer automatic updates will appear in people's News Feeds.
Facebook recently announced that fewer automatic updates will appear in people's News Feeds.Getty Images

On Wednesday, May 28 Kristin Burnham of Information Week reported that Facebook is changing how its Open Graph sharing works to include less automatic sharing and concentrate more on content people choose to share with their friends. What this means for people in the greater Spokane area is that they will be seeing fewer updates in their news feeds informing them of what their friends and family have been doing on sites such as Pinterest or Instagram. If people are getting tired of seeing announcements every time friends achieve something in the games they play or listen to songs on their favorite music streaming sites, this change will probably make them enjoy hanging out on Facebook more.

According to Burnham, "Open Graph integration isn't going anywhere, but Facebook has encouraged developers to eliminate auto-sharing -- or at least make it opt-in. Last week, it started by disabling the automatic sharing of likes, comments, and posts from Instagram. Moving forward, Facebook will deemphasize these implicitly shared posts -- which will soon appear only on your profile -- in favor of ones that you deliberately share, such as articles from news sites, photos from Instagram, and songs from Spotify.

"... Deemphasizing Facebook's Open Graph actions effectively ends CEO Mark Zuckerberg's vision of 'frictionless sharing,' but it also coincides with the social network's recent push to make news feed content more valuable. In April, Facebook announced changes to detect spammy news feed posts that ask for readers to like, comment, or share in order to get more distribution. It also said it planned to crack down on frequently circulated content, such as a photo or video that users and pages repeatedly upload."

On Thursday, May 29, Polly Mosendz of The Wire explained how the changes will work. The new, improved News Feed will focus more on updates friends might actually want to see.

According to Mosendz, "A change to the Facebook's News Feed algorithm means you'll be seeing fewer of your friend's Spotify songs, Instagram Likes and other third-party app activity. If you have auto-sharing turned on — like sending all Instagram pictures to Facebook by default — those posts will be less likely to appear on your friend's feeds. But if you actually share to Facebook through an app, manually — adding a comment, then pressing the 'Share' button — your friends are more likely to see it. ... Cleaning up the algorithm also means it'll be easier to see what many of your friends have in common. Instead of seeing 10 posts from 10 friends all sharing the same song, you will see that song once, and below, '10 of your friends shared this.'"

In a recent post on the Facebook Developer Blog, Peter Yang explained several options people can try instead of auto sharing, such as using new features in Facebook Messenger to share content from apps or using the mobile like button that is available in the iOS version. He then went on to explain why Facebook is moving away from automatic sharing. Essentially, it hasn't been as popular with Facebook users as they expected when they introduced Open Graph back in 2011.

According to Yang, "In general, we've found that people engage more with stories that are shared explicitly rather than implicitly, and often feel surprised or confused by stories that are shared implicitly or automatically. Over the past year, the number of implicitly shared stories in News Feed has naturally declined. This decline is correlated with how often people mark app posts as spam, which dropped by 75 percent over the same period. In the coming months, we will continue to prioritize explicitly shared stories from apps in News Feed and Ticker over implicitly shared stories."

Facebook users in the Spokane area tend to be more concerned about privacy than typical Millennial social media buffs who don't mind maintaining a high level of transparency. This change will probably be very welcome among people in the Lilac City who aren't comfortable with the idea of their friends knowing about everything they watch on Hulu or listen to on Spotify. Ideally, it will also lead to less clutter when multiple friends post links to the same personality quiz or funny cat video. For many Spokanites, this may be the first welcome change Facebook has announced since 2011.