A number of Facebook users are seeing a new icon on News Feed items which link to sites that share Timeline activity. It has a color indicator that tells whether clicking the link will post a user’s action on their Timeline.
Meet the New “Share” Icon
Users noticed that a small icon appears next to the name of social news readers and video apps within the News Feed. The grey icon indicates that sharing is disabled. This means that when a user clicks on a link, his or her friends won’t see it on the News Feed.
On the other hand, the green icon indicates that social sharing is enabled. Users can hover over their mouse on the icon and see to whom their subsequent activity will be visible. However, this feature only appears within the mobile and desktop News Feed but not on a user’s Timeline.
Facebook also tested the same functionality last month. The only difference is that the current iteration is so subtle that most users won’t notice it. In addition, the icon doesn’t also immediately represent social sharing because of the lack of additional context. In fact, the mobile version doesn’t provide any information that would tell what the icon signifies.
Educating Users About Frictionless Sharing
It seems that Facebook is testing a number of options to find a balance between frictionless sharing and letting people have control over their experience. But if they end up picking a vague icon to designate a seamless sharing application, they should educate their users what it means and where they could find it.
This is very important as websites and apps only need to ask permission once before automatically publishing stories to a user’s News Feed, Timeline and Ticker. Since most of the apps are new, developers are using various ways of making their users aware of what they are agreeing to share and how they could opt-out.
Nevertheless, experimenting on its own website and allowing third-party developers to try different approaches, Facebook can easily define its policies and best practices. But without proper distribution of information, users will be hesitant to add any new applications or click and share news or videos from other websites.
Good thing, users who set their apps to be visible to “Only Me” can give them a chance to experience new apps without the fear of over-sharing. It also gives them the freedom whether to chronicle any app-related activity on their Timeline or not.