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Unhappiness at new features. What a surprise.
LiveJournal released some new features this morning, which triggered an outpouring of reactionary unhappiness. The same sort of thing happens whenever Facebook adds new features, changes page designs, or tweaks its security model. I suppose many people react badly to change. Personally, I like the software I use to be in a state of constant development. New features must be tried: some will work, some won’t, but I’d prefer to be using a blogging platform that is trying to improve itself, rather than one that accepts a state of decay.

The crux of the objections seems to be that LJ users can choose to cross-post comments that they make to Twitter and/or Facebook. Since anything I write as an LJ post or comment is mine to do with as a wish, I see no problem with this. However, LJ’s implementation, which can reveal a link to and title of a locked post, could do with tweaking.

I’ve turned on the new cross-posting functionality to see whether it works any better than my existing solutions of twitterfeed (which worked reasonably reliably) and Facebook's Notes import (which often imported LJ posts days late). How appropriate, to try cross-posting with a post about people being cross about cross-posting.

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1. This is fine if you never ever quote anyone when replying
2. Your words are yours to do with as you wish but you may find yourself removed from friends lists shortly afterwards if people object. You are there as a privilege, not a right (participants in LJ Drama often forget this!). :D

You’re right. Although it is worth noting that LJ doesn’t automatically quote previous comments when you reply, unlike email, so any quoting has to be a conscious choice.

Your second point tackles the wider issues of respect and appropriate behaviour. You need to trust the people that you allow to read your locked posts, or that are members of communities that you post to. Any one of them could abuse your privacy, and would (if found out) suffer the social consequences. All LJ are doing is automating one aspect of sharing, which could be done in a much more extreme form with minimal manual effort.

And I can’t help but think that if you engage in LJ Drama, it must be difficult to maintain the trust which is required for LJ’s privacy system to work.

The problem is that LJ have automated it in such a way that opting out is a good deal harder than users would like, and it is impossible to completely remove the 'feature' even if you do not have a FB or Twitter account. Accidental cross-posting is considerably easier to do than it should be, as well. So you can trust your friends all you like, but a number of them may already be unwittingly sharing, and in doing so, linking screen names and RL identities, which many people deliberately avoid doing with LJ. (You and Kate are exceptions in using your names as LJ ID, and not the majority, as a quick look down the average friends list will demonstrate!)

Abuse of privacy that's done maliciously and personally is one thing, and people can sort out their own battles there, but when it's done without your consent or knowledge, by the website not the user, that's something that's potentially going to cause great hurt for no good reason, and it's something LJ could easily avoid if it wanted to. That it clearly doesn't want to is what most of the people I see complaining are actually objecting to. 'Customer service' is a concept completely lost on LJ management, it seems.

Surely it is entirely an opt-in feature? The Facebook and Twitter functionality only works if you’ve explicitly linked your accounts. You could only accidentally cross post if you’ve already set it up — otherwise the report checkboxes are disabled.

A screenshot in news suggests otherwise - 'we'll figure out who you are' is not something I want to see by these tickyboxes! Since LJ are in possession of many email addresses, some of which are going to be the same ones used for Facebook and Twitter accounts, it is far from impossible for them to connect accounts. (My Twitter account, for instance, has this user name, and the same email address. I shall be changing that, as it's trivial to do so.)

But even if LJ can identify your Twitter or Facebook accounts, it still can’t cross-post without you linking the accounts, whether you link them from the LJ settings page, or if it offers the option of linking them when you try to cross-post a comment.

And the linking process involves bouncing you to the Twitter and/or Facebook sites for you to authenticate and approve the linking. No way can that be done accidentally or automatically.

Edited at 2010-09-02 09:57 am (UTC)

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