If You Like Links, You’ll Hate What Facebook Is Doing To Them

Sharing a link is one of the simplest and most social actions you can take on the web. It should be consistent across platforms. And Facebook has broken it (at least to leave Facebook) adding unnecessary complexity and poor user experience to an action the rest of the web thrives on.

But it isn’t just Facebook.

Other media entities are yielding their presence to the stream and short-circuiting the ability for users to share their content. They are helping Facebook gaslight the web.

Case in point, this weekend I tried to share a link to a story in The Guardian I found interesting:

You’ll note (as I highlighted in a red box) even my browser recognized this was a link to the publication’s website, not Facebook.

However, due to how The Guardian has configured their site’s Facebook integration, anyone clicking the link is not taken to the expected URL. Instead a user is taken to this page to authorize use of The Guardian application:

Note, in extremely light gray, by adding their app to Facebook you are opting in to the Guardian’s 3,000+ word TOS merely to access a link.

To access this story elsewhere was ridiculously easier than in Facebook (I originally found it via Twitter). It was just one click, of course. That’s how the web works. But within Facebook’s system and the need to add an application (and share detailed information / yield rights to a third party) this is just obnoxious. I don’t need to add apps on Twitter, Reddit, Google+ or anywhere else to view a link. It’s terrible user experience any way you slice it.

The worst part of this situation is I had no idea that by sharing a link I was going to force my network to install an app merely to view it. Facebook and The Guardian broke my anticipated action of linking to an article. Instead, they redirected my link to an app (not at all my intention).

All this does is leaves a bad taste in my mouth and basically motivates me to take my sharing elsewhere. Because who wants to share content in a platform that adds complexity and brings your network to something you did not intend to share?

I understand the point is to create a more friction-free experience later. However, I am ruthlessly selective in what I share with my networks. I don’t immediately share everything, because I place high value on signal over noise. Personally I don’t want friction free sharing as this would ruin my ability to pass on items of value, plus remove the ability to add context.

Further, no media outlet is so important I am willing to install an app, grant them access to my information / opt into their TOS merely to view a web page. I read a diverse amount of publications and am unwilling to solve every single media outlet, blog, or site I read at the app level. That’s annoying and intrusive.

But perhaps this is Facebook’s route? Ignore the power users and drive them to share elsewhere, while making the masses jump through hoops to ensure sharing happens at scale. Clearly, more social actions increase reasons to return to their network. My thinking is this is another tactic they’re using to try and beat the 90-9-1 rule.