Facebook Has Gone Too Far.

I don’t really follow Facebook terribly closely, but recently, they enabled some sort of terrible, insidious API for “publishers.”

The end result is that I see an interesting article in my Facebook news feed. “Cool,” I think. “I would like to read that.”

Click.

And it opens this awful modal dialog.

Yahoo! Read the news with your friends. About this app: Discover articles you never would have read. And when you view an article on Yahoo!, your friends will see it on Facebook and Yahoo!. What this app shares: This app shares articles you read and more on Facebook with: Friends. Using this app requires: Your e-mail address, your birthday, and your likes. By proceeding, you agree to Yahoo's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy (links). Link to Report App. Button to agree. Button to cancel.
(fallback)

Uh… well, no thanks, I would rather not have everything I read automatically and publicly logged on Facebook.

Click “Cancel.”

The dialog closes. And that’s it. No article opens.

Then I realize something. Facebook is actively breaking the fundamentals of the Web. The “link” I clicked in my news feed would seem to be a textbook example of a hyperlink: Blue, underlined words describing a page on another website that I should be able to click and read. Or right-click and open in a new window, or maybe long-tap on a phone and copy the URL of… but no. No, that “URL” isn’t foreign; it’s a link to a Facebook.com page requiring me to grant unacceptable permissions to an “app” before, you know, reading the other side of the original pseudo-link.

It’s shameful. Broken. Even evil.

Facebook ought to be ashamed.

Yahoo ought to be ashamed, too. And they should know that I never ended up reading the article I saw in my timeline. Just as well. Yahoo is a bad web citizen; yahoo.com news stories from as little as two years ago (and maybe less!) now result in 404 file-not-found links. Those items are gone. It means swaths of blogs and sites have broken links, that sources and references are now unverifiable. It’s not just the news: Perhaps both more and less understandably, Yahoo removed whole neighborhoods of content when they took GeoCities completely offline, too. The Web isn’t supposed to be taken so cavalierly.

End result: I will be finding less content via Facebook, and reading less on Yahoo. It’s just as well.


December 10th, 2011
Alan Hogan (@alanhogan).  Contact · About