The Friction in Frictionless Sharing

Facebook claims that frictionless sharing makes sharing easier. They’ve improved the usability of sharing by taking away the friction.

So let’s look at it from a usability perspective.

This is an oversimplification, but we can think of frictionless sharing as an attempt to replace something like this:

With something like this:

Instead of requiring the user to confirm every single article they choose to share, just give them a one-time dialog that enables them to share everything down the road.

That’s a lot less work for the user, right?

Well, no, not really. Because in the past the user only had to decide whether to share something they just read, but now they have to think about every single article before they even read it. If I read this article, then everyone will know I read it, and do I really want people to know I read it?

That creates more friction, not less.

And let’s not forget the friction the user experiences as they browse around the Web. Now they have to remember which sites are automatically sharing what they read. Did I allow a Facebook app to share what I read on this site? I don’t remember, so I’d better not click that link.

So frictionless sharing isn’t frictionless after all. All it does is trade the small friction of having to choose what to share with the large friction of having to think about whether what you’re about to do will be shared.

4 thoughts on “The Friction in Frictionless Sharing

  1. What FB really needs is a setting in their news feeds with the option “Do you care about what articles this person reads.” ;)

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  2. I agree with you but I think that the biggest problem is that many people will agree without reading the message carefully therefore not knowing exactly what they are agreeing to.

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  3. Frictionless sharing cannot be associated with social portals or mobile apps, due to the tremendous number of parameters that the user can interact with (let alone the profile visitor).
    And, as you put it, the sharing API is another thing to remember, or use a meta app or website to handle it like mypermissions.org

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  4. It bothers me that somebody went ahead and did this.
    Did they think before they acted?
    Did they work through what this means to real people of all types?
    I for one have diminishing respect for the people behind this.
    I think we need to think more about splitting the Internet in different pieces. ;-) Things like this, and the increasing failure of search might say that there’s big chunks that I might never want to see again!

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