Gee, Thanks, WashPo Social Reader! Now I Know My Friends Read Crap!

Zara Phillips

I love it when people share great stuff on social media. Thanks to friends, family, and acquaintances, I’ve stumbled across this, this, and plenty of other gems.

Due to many self-introduced layers of filtering, my Facebook, Twitter, etc. feeds are filled with content from people I know I like.  That’s layer #1.  Layer #2?  I like to think that most of these people are somewhat discerning when it comes to endorsing content online—of all the things they watch and read every day, they usually only post those things they particularly liked…rather than everything they’ve seen/read.  So by the time I actually see their posts (layer #3), I know they’ve been pre-vetted and pre-approved. In other words, if they went to the trouble of actively posting something, there’s a good chance it’s something I’m going to like.

Sure, people also actively choose to post things I’m neutral or indifferent to, but every so often, there’s something really awesome.  LOL awesome.  Crying laughing awesome. ROFLing awesome, even. (And all posts are better when I’ve had a bit too much wine, which *might* have been the case when I watched/listened to the two things above…)

All of which brings me around to the Washington Post Social Reader. In case you’re not familiar with it, here’s the gist (from the About copy):

Washington Post Social Reader is a free app that lets you read news on Facebook — discover what your friends are reading and let friends know what you’re reading, too!…. Once you’re in the app, everything you read will be visible to your social network.

Seems like it might be kind of okay, right? People you like sharing content they like? That’s the theory but, oh, Lord, it’s a monster.  Like all my least favorite social apps, its default setting is “share EVERYTHING.”  Because EVERYTHING you read is just that interesting.

Needless to say, I can’t bring myself to sign up for it, even for research purposes, but here’s what I’ve gathered…

  1. Unless you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page to opt out of sharing, you share everything you read.
  2. Every time you read something through the reader, you have to actively opt out in order to keep your reading habits private.
  3. Barring the previous two activities, everyone you’re connected to on social media will get an update from you every time you read something—from the mundane to the inane.

Lucky the rest of us!  What would my life have been without knowledge of Snooki’s difficult decision of whether or not to pose pregnant and naked on a magazine cover?

Yep, now instead of great stuff, I have to feel embarrassed for my friends every time I log into Facebook.  Miley Cyrus’s new slutty phase!  How has Kate Winslet aged since Titanic?!  Rock-hard abs in five days! Celebrities’ plastic surgery disasters!  Don’t get me wrong—it’s not that I don’t read the same crap too sometimes.  But no one needs to know about it.

Really, shouldn’t social sharing be about introducing other people to cool stuff they might not have discovered on their own?

So a plea… a please…

To the Washington Post, show you’re really interested in being social—and not exploitive—by making privacy the default. More people might actually use you, and maybe even share what they read sometimes. And maybe we’ll all come back to believing you actually publish real news.

And, in the meantime, to everyone else:  Don’t—whether by design or accident—think it’s a good idea to share everything you read. Nobody wants to be embarrassed for you.

Now back to this fascinating piece on Kate Middleton’s fascinators…

CATEGORIES: Featured / Social Media /

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