Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why I’m Not Using Facebook Comments

A while back, TechCrunch switched from using Disqus to Facebook Comments for its comments section.

TechCrunch says this is to cut down on people being jerks by forcing them to post under their true name, and I’m fine with that. In fact, the reason I post under the pseudonym ‘MarkKB’ (my first name and the initials of my last) is that I believe accountability is a good thing. I want to be known for both my opinions and the stuff I do, good or bad.

However, the implementation of Facebook Comments as it is right now doesn’t work for me. The reason is really simple, to be honest, and maybe I shouldn’t be as annoyed as I am, but I am.

The problem is there’s a lack of control.

Again, I don’t care about the fact that my name gets displayed for all to see. I’m fine with that. But I can’t control where users go when they click on my name – it’s my Facebook profile or nothing.

My Facebook profile is my personal space on the web. Sure, people can find it by searching for my (rather unique) name. But forcing people to search for it means that only people who really want to expend the effort of being my friend will do it. I want to discourage random people popping in and deciding to be my friend – that’s why I don’t link to my Facebook account elsewhere.

And that’s what Facebook Comments undermines.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. Facebook knows my website address. It knows my Twitter account. There is no reason why they couldn’t link to either of these (even if it has a ‘Here there be dragons (that Facebook doesn’t control)’ landing page first). There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to link to one of my Facebook pages.

There’s no reason they can’t implement Twitter login support like they promised the users back in March.

The only thing my cynical brain can think of is Facebook wants to monetise its users by emphasising its own website above user choice. Either that, or they’re being lazy.

And that’s something I simply cannot get behind.

Postscript: Yes, I know Facebook allows logins from AOL, Yahoo! and Hotmail. The problem there, however, is threefold: 1) They don’t link to the profiles of any of the three. 2) They don’t import the avatar of any of the three. 3) Those are all inherently private networks – my problem is I want to be able to link to my public accounts.

I do, however have some ideas on how Facebook can improve how it works even if they do continue to link to my Facebook profile. I’ll discuss those at a later date.

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