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Facebook's 'eavesdrop' setting?
August 23, 2012 5:26 AM   Subscribe

So what function of Facebook is it that lets my friends see the comments I've made on pages I like - which they have NOT liked - and comment on them? I've gotten into several conversations lately made more uncomfortable by someone not in the community I'm commenting to jumping in and making a comment about my participation. I thought I had my settings pretty nailed down, but can't figure out where this one is. Thanks.

I'm not sure if this a new setting or something that's becoming more common as more people get the timeline, but it seems to have happened to me within just the last 6 weeks or so.
posted by Miko to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I have been unable to find any setting to disable this. I'm pretty sure it's part of FB's "show people what they look at most" idea. I usually only see it for the very few close friends whose profiles I check semi-often.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:33 AM on August 23, 2012


When you post on someone else's page or profile, you're at the mercy of their privacy settings, so if they allow "friends of friends" to see and comment on posts, sometimes it's going to show up in their newsfeed and they might jump into the conversation.
posted by chiababe at 5:42 AM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Found this: "If I post or comment on a Facebook Page, who can see it?
Facebook Pages for businesses and brands are public spaces. When you post or comment to a public Page, a story is published on your Wall (timeline) that can also be published in news feeds."
posted by chiababe at 5:48 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hm. Thanks chiababe. I'd like to be able to shut that down - not have it appear on my wall that I commented. I'll write to Facebook but don't hold out a lot of hope for that. Another reason the clock is totally ticking on that service.
posted by Miko at 5:53 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


FB says:

Who can see stories about my comments and likes in ticker?
To control stories about your commenting activity in ticker and news feed, always check who can see the privacy of the posts you're commenting on. Learn more about sharing privacy. If you aren't comfortable with who can see the post, please don't comment on it or like it. If you do, a story about your activity will be eligible to appear on Facebook, including on your timeline (profile), in news feed and in ticker.

Remember, your comments and likes are only visible to people who can see the original post. For example, you might comment on a photo one of your family members posts just to family. A friend of yours who cannot already view the photo will not see a story in ticker about your comment.

Please note that unsubscribing from a friend's 'comments and likes' in your news feed, does not have any impact on whether your friends see it when you comment on or like their posts.


#####

I have had friends post something like this as their status update; "Dear friends: While we love talking here, we may not always realize how much of our activity on the site is visible. If you share my privacy concerns, please unsubscribe from 'comments and likes.'"
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:57 AM on August 23, 2012


Right, MonkeyToes, I understand the settings for your friends and have those adjusted the way I like. What I don't understand (or didn't until now) is that Pages don't give you the same ability to tweak your settings.

Remember, your comments and likes are only visible to people who can see the original post

So that's the difference between Friends and Pages. With Pages, your comments are visible to anyone who can see your Wall, as far as I can tell. And that's what I don't like.
posted by Miko at 6:01 AM on August 23, 2012


Facebook Pages for businesses and brands are public spaces.

Yeah, this is your problem. As far as I can tell, I don't think there's any way to make your activity on a Facebook Page private- or keep it out of search engines- as far as I can tell, anything you put on a Facebook Page is searchable in Google by your Facebook profile name (correct me if I'm wrong, people).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:03 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's unfortunately no way around this, but a shortcut is, once you post something on a public page, go to your timeline and hover over the post there--there's an "x" in the corner and you can remove the story from your timeline. That should help a little, though I realize it's annoying.
posted by leesh at 6:14 AM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


If your activity is actually appearing on your wall, you might be able to remove each individual instance by clicking the X in the upper right corner and selecting "Hide from Timeline" (or something like that — my account is deactivated because of crap like this). If it's not on your wall anymore, it shouldn't appear in other people's feeds.
posted by stopgap at 6:14 AM on August 23, 2012


I agree it's good practice to click the "x" in the corner of these posts on your timeline, but I don't think that prevents the story from appearing on your friends' tickers - the scrolling feed on the right side of the page. I don't think there's any way to prevent the ticker from showing likes and comments to public pages.
posted by barnoley at 6:35 AM on August 23, 2012


Good to know. Thanks all. What a crappy "feature!"
posted by Miko at 6:45 AM on August 23, 2012


It's truly awful. A good reason not to like pages, and that's why when people send me pages to like, I don't.
posted by canine epigram at 6:50 AM on August 23, 2012


For what it's worth - is possible to hide your "likes" from your friends, I have this enabled on my profile. But, I assume that this does not hide your comments on public pages from your friends (I never comment on any pages).
posted by insectosaurus at 6:54 AM on August 23, 2012


Some of the blogs I visit have switched to using Facebook for their comments, and after one experience like you describe (everyone I know seeing my comment to this website, likeing/responding to it), I've stopped commenting. I think the website owners can set features that make this not appear as a normal Facebook post, but I think that I as a user don't have any control over it. It's a bummer. I'm hoping someone will say differently here - thanks for asking this question, Miko!
posted by aimedwander at 6:58 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree it's good practice to click the "x" in the corner of these posts on your timeline, but I don't think that prevents the story from appearing on your friends' tickers - the scrolling feed on the right side of the page. I don't think there's any way to prevent the ticker from showing likes and comments to public pages.

I also think if a friend has you on a list (Close Friends or Family or something) that they will still be able to see if you have commented on a public page.
posted by Sabby at 7:07 AM on August 23, 2012


What a crappy "feature!"

No, not really. If you let people control the privacy of their own individual comments, you lose the dialogue as people can see some of the comments in the thread, and not others, and the comments become out of context. Consider the following as a thought experiment.
Post: Look at this horrible thing Sen. Akin said about rape. He should be ashamed of himself!

Commenter A: Sen. Akin is right. Women deserve whatever they get, lol butz.

Commenter B: You are an idiot and a tool and completely wrong. The world would be a better place without you in it.
Now, suppose A and B both have their comments visible to "friends only." A and B are (or were at the time) friends with each other, which is how B saw A's comment and responded to it.

But suppose C is friends with B but not A. C cannot see A's comment. What does C think B is saying?

What would a MetaFilter thread be like if every single user saw a different subset of the comments that had been made in the thread?

There's good reason for comments to inherit the privacy of the item being commented on. Get in the habit of checking the privacy of an item before commenting on it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:00 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


What an appropriate username, DevilsAdvocate. However, I think you are missing the point. The issue is not inherited privacy settings, but broadcasting activity to other friends who are not also fans of the public page. There is no reason for Facebook to assume that User C needs to see User B's comment unless User C goes to read the discussion themself. It's bad enough that the discussion is public and indexed in search engines, but it shouldn't also be broadcasted to everyone User B went to high school with.
posted by stopgap at 8:12 AM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


No, not really. If you let people control the privacy of their own individual comments, you lose the dialogue as people can see some of the comments in the thread, and not others, and the comments become out of context. C.

I understand what you are trying to illustrate, but you are talking about a different mechanism than Pages. I'm not talking about Friend relationships here.

It would be entirely possible to retain comment visibility for everyone who likes the Page, as a condition of participating on the page but not publish the comment as story to each person's invidual followers, including those who have never looked at the Page in their lives and don't belong to the Page.

In other words, it's technologically possible but not something Facebook desires to do at this time.

Besides which, the situation you warn against occurs anyway because of the availability of comment deletion and because individuals have their own privacy set differently, so often you are not seeing all the comments that happened in a discussion, whether you know it or not.

Get in the habit of checking the privacy of an item before commenting on it.

It's clear there's just NO privacy on Page comments, so there's not really a need to check unless the service starts providing a setting.
posted by Miko at 8:14 AM on August 23, 2012


From day 1, I have treated Facebook like a public space. I will sometimes adjust a post so that only some of my friends will see it merely so that civilians aren't caught in some obscure orchestra joke crossfire, but I would never put anything on FB that my boss, mom, or wife couldn't see. I'm all for privacy, and expect it from my banking website, but tinkering with FB to try to have privacy in what you post on it is a losing battle.
posted by randomkeystrike at 9:19 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The issue here seems to be less that the public parts of Facebook are public, but that Facebook is, itself, acting like a horrible, all-seeing gossip.
posted by Good Brain at 1:01 PM on August 23, 2012


The issue for me is not that I'm posting stuff I don't want others to see. I never do that, because I do understand it's public.

What is weird are interactions like the following:

I am responding to a question about new services on the page of my veterinary clinic, which I "like." I write a comment about the service, and the next comment in the stream is from a friend of my Mom's who lives a dozen states away: "Miko, do you work for this vet clinic now?" She thinks she's responding to me, on my wall, and can't figure out why I'd be weighing in on office operations at the vet. In real life, she's become part of this oddball interchange now appearing on my vet's "Like" page which I imagine looks plenty stupid to the other people who "like" that vet clinic.

And this morning, I comment on a piece of news on my local Patch's Facebook page about a local hsitoric house, which is being presented as a haunted house on Patch. Someone argues it must be haunted because it's old, and therefore people have died in it. I respond "People die in new houses too." And then a random college classmate says "So do you believe in haunting, Miko?" Which is a 1:1 conversation and not I plan to drag onto Patch to clog up the comment stream for their 1200 followers.

So it's not that there's a privacy issue here. Obviously nothing on FB is really private in a meaningful sense. But there is just a really oddball thing that occurs when someone who has no idea what the fuck you're talking about can see a comment on your timeline and jump into a conversation without having the faintest idea what the context is, and without being a member of the group the conversation was ostensibly taking place in. To me, this just confuses dialogue in a bizarre way, and is a dumb way for Facebook to have things set up.
posted by Miko at 1:20 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


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