Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Life had enough potentially awkward moments before Facebook. Now, there´s a whole new etiquette just for social networking as people mind their Ps and Qs online. For instance, which of us haven´t spent an inordinate amount of time dissecting the possible ramifications of de-friending a “friend.” How disturbing is it, by the way, that the word “de-friending” is now a part of our accepted lexicon? This act of making relationships – friendship or otherwise – “official” and announcing them to your network is only scratching the surface of a very awkward rash.
There´s also the danger of outing yourself to a “friend” whose invitation to dinner you´ve declined. For instance, a friend asks you to have dinner. Not really enjoying this friend´s company, you decline and say, “Oh, sorry! I´ve already got plans for that evening!”
Then, without realizing it, you find yourself on the night of said proposed dinner home alone, updating your status to something along the lines of “Doing nothing at home! Who´s up for drinks?”
Of all its warts, one of Facebook´s most largest downfalls is the ease with which it walks us into awkward moments.
Now, the Social Giant has pushed out another feature which could make things a little more uncomfortable next time you actually see your friends face-to-face: The ability to see whom has read group posts. Announced in a July 11th release, Facebook said users can now see who has read posts in a group. Now, every friend in your groups will know if you read the post about your friend´s party or the time everyone was supposed to get together for a movie, removing one more possible excuse for simply skipping out on plans.
Gone are the days when one could simply blame technology and say, “Oh, I´m sorry! I never saw that post!” Now, we´ll all have to come up with better excuses when we show up just in time for pizza and beer, missing the hard labor of helping a friend move.
More than just a facilitator of awkward moments, Facebook also has the practiced knack of pushing the boundaries of its user´s privacy, one inch at a time. While this new feature can make things a little more clumsy, it also represents another way in which Facebook not only keeps an eye on you, but broadcasts your behaviors (friend connections, wall posts, comments, etc) to the world. It´s worth noting that many of your actions can be more or less “hidden” from Facebook, meaning they won´t post them to your wall or announce them to your friends. On the other hand, finding these settings is a notorious chore, sending users to a complicated and confusing list of privacy settings that often change. Have you ever wondered why so many privacy advocates encourage users to frequently check your Facebook privacy settings?
Without constant monitoring, your friends end up seeing every comment, every connection and even some websites you visit. Like a dog prone to jump the fence and terrorize the neighborhood, users must constantly keep one eye on their privacy settings to make sure they don´t run away, dumping over garbage cans and relieving themselves on the neighbors´ lawns.
While these notifications can be toggled on and off (even if it is difficult to do so) there exists no option to turn off the “seen by” notification in a group post. Some cynical Facebookers may be concerned that if this feature exists for group posts, then it could easily exist for the News Feed, leaving behind digital footprints for anyone who has read a user´s content. When asked about this, Facebook told TechCrunch they were “not going to discuss what we might (or might not) do in the future.”
It bears repeating: Mind your Facebook privacy settings often. You may also want to think twice before reading any group posts from a friend you´ll likely try to avoid.
An alternate solution would be to simply “de-friend” this person, or just be upfront and honest with them when you decline their invitation“¦but where´s the fun in that?