There's a new feature making its way to the Facebook News Feed that has some people up in arms. And while I'm usually the first to defend Facebook against the wrath of whiny, misinformed, overreactions from the Facebook population - I have to say that this time, they may have a reason to be upset.
You may or may not have seen a new type of post appear on your News Feed. It looks a lot like a promoted post, and shows that one or two or your friends "like" a certain page. Under that, it will show a recent post from said page. The main point though is that it's not a promoted post, or a Sponsored Story. It's simply Facebook promoting interaction with pages.
For instance, yesterday I saw such a post that told me Chris Crum "likes" Bing. Under that information was the lastest thing that Bing had posted to their Timeline. Seem innocuous enough, right?
Well, not always.
The problem with posts like this is that they can give the wrong impression - and that wrong impression can lead to a lot of embarrassment, or even worse.
ZDNet, who first reported on the issue, obtained this screenshot that captures (perfectly, I might add) the complications that can arise from this new type of post:
It's obvious that the user had simply "liked" drugstore.com in the past, which is harmless at the core. But when the algorithm included drugstore.com's most recent post and it had to do with lube, well, to the untrained eye it appears that the user is simply posting a link to K-Y Warming Sensations.
I'm sure you can see the problem here. It's not a huge leap to imagine how something like this could be a reputation ruiner - or if nothing else cause someone to lose their auntie May's friendship.
Facebook has issued a statement on the new type of post, which is not accidental:
To help people find new Pages, events, and other interesting information, people may now see posts from a Page a friend likes. These posts will include the social context from your friends who like the Page and will respect all existing settings.
Who knows all of the crazy pages that I've liked after one too man beers. With this new feature, any of the hateful, ignorant swill that pours out of whoever runs the page's mouth is going to look like my own - or least look like I endorse it. Part of this is my fault, of course. I did indeed "like" the page. But part of the blame has to rest on Facebook for not immediately noticing how these awkward situations could arise.