It’s the Small Things: The Facebook Ticker

I’ve been on Facebook for a long time. I’ve seen countless changes to its design, some good and some not-as-good. I’m sure I’ll get used to this one in time as well, but the ticker has to go.

If you haven’t noticed it, the ticker is this mini-Facebook feed in the upper-right corner of your Facebook window. It displays real-time activities of your friends – when they comment on something, when they like something, when they join something, when they are joined to something (even private groups), etc. I’m sure some people really love it, and in fact, I’ve seen some of my own friends say how nice it is. The majority of my friends though have been posting links on how to get rid of it since it first appeared. And if they’re not posting links to extensions that hide it (like this one), they’re posting the following:

Some say it’s the lastest in a history of invasions of privacy.

Those who know me know that I’m not that private, at least on the Internet. I was outspoken in support for Blizzard’s real-ID project. I was, if not vocally supportive, silently in assent with Google’s Real Names policy. My information is relatively easy to come by and my views on various things are far from secret.

That said, there’s a difference between being able to give my information out as much as I want and having it broadcasted to all my friends in real-time whether they want it or not.

I don’t care if my friends see that I comment on a mutual friend’s post. All well and good. But I do care if I’m spamming their ticker with “likes” because I play FB games and they don’t. I do care if my games-related conversations fill up their feed when they don’t give a damn. I’ve worked very hard to keep my game-facebook apart from my regular-facebook. I was always proactive with lists, so that I only posted games-related posts to game-buddies. I only send requests to fellow players of a game (or at least fellow-installers). And I don’t do that because I’m ashamed – I do that because I’m respectful. I’m respectful of other people’s facebooks. I’m respectful of other people’s rights to not be spammed to death by my game habits.

But I’m also respectful to my game buddies. I “like” their posts when I help them. That may mean I like 10 posts in a row within a few seconds. It’s social game etiquette and Facebook’s ticker is making me break it. If I could change who I shared my comments/likes with, this wouldn’t be a problem. But instead, I have no control over it. Now, my only choice is to either break etiquette and not “like” any of my buddies’ posts, giving the impression that I’m not helping and do not care, or else “like” them and spam the hell out of my friends’ tickers. No, thanks.

Along with the Facebook changes rolled out this week in advance of Timeline, some of the News Feed filters were removed. I used to be able to filter my feed to only show games-related posts and only those which were from games I had installed. This allowed me to more efficiently help my friends and see what I wanted to see when I wanted to see it. I can filter it by list now, but this doesn’t really help, in fact, it’s worse. I still see my game-buddies’ status updates. I see their pictures, I see their posts. But I also see game postings from all the games they play – not just the ones I play. Sometimes, I want to see that, but most of the time, I just want to help them play games and receive that help in return. I want to be a good app buddy and help my friends by clicking on their game feeds, but the ticker is hampering my style. It’s making me an anti-social social games player.

Facebook has made it more difficult to play the social part of Facebook games – helping each other out, contributing to and talking together about common goals. If I could play the games I play there somewhere else (Hi, Google+), I would in a second.

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