Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Would It Hurt to Check Your Facts?

So for those of you who are blissfully ignorant of Facebook, you may stop reading now. Well, OK, no you don't have to stop reading, but there is a trend that is going on over there that is starting make me a bit annoyed.

It's a frequent thing for people to post messages that are urban legends, hoaxes and other oddities, but the most recent meme is a "fix" for Facebook settings that doesn't even do what it is purported to do. In short here's the current meme:

Facebook has changed its News Feed AGAIN, so that by default, you can only see updates from people with whom you've recently interacted. To change this, click on 'Account', then 'Edit friends' then at the top left, click "All Friends." Most Importantly... Re-Post this. Otherwise, only a few of your friends will actually see your posts.


Seems innocuous enough, even nice, all things considered, except for one small detail... the advice listed above doesn't work. In fact, it's a totally different piece of functionality. It's a great approach to filtering or not filtering your friends list while you are editing your friends list, but it has "zero" effect on your news feed or wall posts. How to tell this? Because you can see in the replies how many people are saying "hey, I can't save this" or "why does it always go back to "most recent""?

Seemed like a testing challenge, so i decided to dig for a couple of minutes. First, I remember dealing with this awhile ago, and it wasn't in the spot that everyone mentioned. In fact, it was in the space called "Edit Options" (which is accessible both at the bottom of your news feed page, or from the News feed options drop down in the upper left hand corner of your Facebook wall. From there, the light-box that appears only has two choices, your most frequently interacted with friends, or with all friends and pages. What's more telling that this is the right place to go, is that there is an actual "Save" button, and the save button stores your choice. Zounds!

OK, some of you are probably thinking "why are you telling us this, why not tell the people on your friends list on Facebook?!" The thing is, I've already done that. In fact, the point of this blog post is only peripherally related to that. The real point of the post is "how often do we regurgitate advice just because someone else said it?" This rose to the level of a meme; so many people posted the misinformation that it was getting to be comical. what's even more telling is how many people who said "hey, thanks for the tip, did what you suggested and its all better now!" Ummm, no, it's not all better. You didn't even accomplish what you thought you accomplished. Even more, people kept posting this and reposting this, making me wonder if we just want to get "cool points" for posting and reposting something so we can be part of the "cool crowd", or if we actually take the time to look at the message and see i it stands up to the smell test. This time around, as I looked at the posted solution, I realized it couldn't be a solution. It wasn't even dealing with the same functionality.

So to my fellow testers, I am sure you all do this, but just in case, before you re-post or re-tweet something from a source you think is cool or knowledgeable, try it out for yourself first, and see if what's being posted really is doing what it says it's doing. 
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