Remember back in heyday of TiVo when the Wall Street Journal ran the story my TiVo thinks I'm gay? Well, it seems I'm facing a similar dilemma with the news feed on my Facebook home. It has decided that Robert Scoble is the most important person in my social network. Here's a screen shot of what my news feed looked like when I logged into Facebook yesterday.

There are over a hundred people in my social network on Facebook, many tagged as coworkers, high school friends and family yet 50% of the content in my news feed is always about Robert Scoble. It would be understandable if he was the only one among my hundreds of "friends" actively using the site but that isn't the case. A quick glance at my status updates page reveals something quite astounding

Even though I've gotten status updates from about twenty people in my social network over the past day, the only person whose status updates Facebook decided are important enough to show on my home page when I log in is Robert Scoble. WTF?

Even crazier, guess who is on the list of people whose updates I've asked not to show up in my news feed unless nothing else is available?

I can only guess at why Facebook has decided to ignore my wishes and fill my news feed with content I've explicitly rejected. Perhaps their algorithms think he is my most important "friend" because he has thousands of people in his network? Perhaps they think his content will generate the most clickthroughs since they are usually videos? Either way, this is one instance where Facebook has failed to put the user in control.

If this hadn't become the primary way I keep up with a lot of folks I grew up with back in Nigeria, I'd quit using Facebook. Fricking...social lock-in.


 

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 3:51:36 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Thanks for sharing that, Dare - I burst out with laughter when I saw your 'Less About These Friends' screenshot!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 3:53:49 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Interesting. The 'Less News' feature works perfectly for me. I might add Scoble myself to it now and see if it makes a difference.
Master William
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 4:21:27 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I hate to say it but I unfriended him because he had taken over my feed as well, everytime I looked it was all about him and I'd miss things my other friends were doing. So I'll just stick with his Blog for now.
Chris
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 5:46:55 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
That's hilarious - the same thing happened to me (although I hadn't deprioritized Scoble - but his updates are all over my news feed at the expense of just about everyone else!)
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 6:01:54 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
perhaps you're on a closed network and people are just fucking with you.
da brat
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 6:04:33 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
LOL, I didn't know you could even put people on a "less about them" list. I just did that as well :-).
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 6:06:27 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I have the same problem with Robert and, like you, found the "Less about these friends" doesn't seem to work. Now that Robert has tagged you as part of his "A-list" bloggers perhaps he'll blog something about this and Facebook will take note and get it fixed.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 7:04:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Yep, I found this too. The night before last, I finally dropped him from my Facebook friends list. I actually gave up on his blog, too: the signal-to-noise was pretty bad.
Meddel
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 8:05:57 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Hold up before you jump to conclusions. I think the issue here is that any particular application (status, events, videos, etc.) can only send a cetain number of notifications to your profile page per day. If your other friends were posting videos like Scoble, you would see their videos first. All that appears to have happened is that Scoble has figured out the way it works and is smart enough to monopolize all of the status-producing applications that other people don't use.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 8:52:39 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
The lock-in is an illusion, Its not the service, its the people on it, more to a different one and the people who want to connect with you will move also. Its about generating social gravity.
Anyway these services are only a stop-gap.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 10:03:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Joshua,
I doubt your theory holds any water. Scoble's status message was shown on my home page even though he was just one of twenty of my "friends" who had posted a status update. Also I find it hard to imagine that Scoble is the only one of my contacts to have joined a group given that he has two group announcements on my homepage.
I got a better explanation from one of the Facebook devs as a private message and if he is right then this was a temporary aberration.
Thursday, August 09, 2007 1:16:35 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Ok so more people are catching on that Scoble is basically just a facebook spammer

He must mention his facebook network in every second blog post, talking about how its the 'whos who' of silicon valley and the tech world - he really does think he is the center of the universe

anyway, fact is that he adds these people, that person feels special and then follows him, only to be inundated with spam about his blog/show/podtech/crap

he does the same thing on twitter, and basically everywhere else. its boring as shit and no different to any other spam, but for some reason we tolerate it

facebook really needs to get a hold of this, because it impacts user experience
Thursday, August 09, 2007 1:26:42 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
> facebook really needs to get a hold of this, because it
> impacts user experience

Uh? This is not a very complicated issue here, JeffRo. Don't add people who annoy you, or unsubscribe from those who do.

I, too, will likely un-friend Scoble for the same reasons mentioned above. But the entire process will take all of about 12 seconds.

Is this really worth getting all worked up about? Sheesh.
Thursday, August 09, 2007 1:35:46 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Funny. The same thing was happening to my feed with Jason Calacanis today. He was on the less about list and was still showing up all over the place. I had to unfriend him. (No offensive Jason). :)
Thursday, August 09, 2007 2:45:10 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Yep, as a few people have said, I too removed Robert from my friends, just because of the sheer amount of stuff he seems to use it for, and how it inadvertently spams my news feed.
Joe
Thursday, August 09, 2007 3:33:44 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Oh come on everyone - Scoble is one of the best connected people around. Do you honestly think it's worth de-friending him?

I tell you what - Scoble *consistently* adds more value to me as a person trying to figure this stuff out than anyone else I can think of and if you think I'm an a*s licker then check my ZDNet blog. Do I need to suck d**k? You decide.

All I know is I'm more enriched having him around than not.
Thursday, August 09, 2007 3:36:35 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
My understanding is that users can choose to whether their activities show up on their friends home page feed. Many users opt-out of having all their activities show up. Scoble hasn't. Given all the crap Facebook has taken about privacy it might even be the case that by default your activities don't show up unless you opt-in.
Zachary Hartley
Thursday, August 09, 2007 4:30:52 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Just remove him as a friend. It's not like it's that big of a deal.

Personally, I haven't had any problems with him spamming my news feed on Facebook and I've got just under 100 friends. I guess my friends just update like crazy, or something. I don't know why y'all are having problems.
Thursday, August 09, 2007 5:47:53 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
one day i was looking at my facebook homepage.
and above the fold were 3 pictures of "Robert Scoble" (thats how he starts conversations, 'Hi im Robert Scoble')

luckily .. facebook has settings and dials for everything
and you can dial back how important he is and get less news about him. or zero news which is fine.

Thursday, August 09, 2007 5:51:40 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Hahahaha I have the same thing!! Hilarious!
Xipipipi
Thursday, August 09, 2007 6:26:50 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Probably pointless to say me too at this point, but I will anyways, I was considering de-friending him. The setting to ignore status updates is definitly broken.
Thursday, August 09, 2007 8:36:01 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
You just got Scobleized, yo.
nexusprime
Thursday, August 09, 2007 3:50:18 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
It's ironic that the only reason I'm reading this blog entry is because Scoble posted a link that showed up in my feed :)

I too have put Scoble in my "less about" list, and it seems to be working. I only have 35 people on facebook, so I actually clicked on every one of their profiles just now, and the few posts there were for today did show up in my news feed. It just looks like Scoble is being favored because he posts so much more, but it hasn't prevented me from seeing any of the people who aren't on the "less about" list.

I do find it odd that you're complaining about a friend posting too much when it's so easy to unfriend. Kind of makes me wonder if you don't mind Scoble and the associated traffic bump he gives your blog.
Thursday, August 09, 2007 7:32:10 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I friended him, too. Big mistake. Thank you for posting about this.
Ez E
Thursday, August 09, 2007 10:47:37 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Me 'n' Scoble, together again for the first time?

jon
Friday, August 10, 2007 3:47:56 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Dare, it is possible it was an anomaly. But my description of how things normally work, and the way spamming would work, is 100% correct. You're welcome for the education.
Friday, August 10, 2007 9:38:13 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I was feeling bad for poor Jon Pincus - how awful to have his own delisting exposed... for doing something obviously less annoying than Scoobie. Jon, if you are going down, do it hard, bright, and fast.

Personally, I think Robert makes for a funny podcasting moment- the focused determined geek staring at a pc screen, fingeers racing at top speed, is he showing amazing hacking prowess in a now classic montage? is he hacking NSA? no, he is relentlessly updating his social networking pages.
Morgan Warstler
Saturday, August 11, 2007 3:37:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I don't know what the guys deal is but if you check his homepage out he does say sorry. Probably not worth getting too worked up over though.


- tom
Thursday, August 16, 2007 3:17:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
We just finished creating a Facebook application to help deal with this exact situation. It lets you privately group your friends and look at news according to those groups so that you can interact with them on your terms.

It also enables you and your friends to share news with each other from outside facebook (blogs, diggs, TWITTER, photos, etc.) If you are interested, give it a try at http://apps.facebook.com/innercircle
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