Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Social networks offer a way to narrow the field of friends : An anti-oversharing crowd

There are times when you just have to tell your friends about something, but not necessarily your Facebook friends. Just ask Becca Akroyd. When Akroyd, a 29-year-old lawyer in Sacramento, wanted to share a picture of her garden, she didn't turn to Facebook. Instead she posted it on Path, a service that lets people share pictures, videos and messages with a small group.
"The people I have on my Path are the people who are going to care about the day-to-day random events in my life, or if my dog does something funny," Akroyd said. "On Facebook, I have colleagues or family members who wouldn't necessarily be interested in those things — and also that I wouldn't necessarily want to have view those things."
Path, which limits friend groups to 50, is among a new crop of Web services that allow people to connect with a handful of friends in a private group. Users get the benefits of sharing without the strangeness that can result when social worlds collide on Facebook. Other start-ups in this anti-oversharing crowd
include GroupMe, Frenzy, Rally Up, Shizzlr, Huddl and Bubbla.
Even Facebook recognises that people don't want to share everything with every "friend." It has privacy settings that control who can see what, but many people find these challenging to set up. So last fall, Facebook introduced Groups, for sharing with subsets of Facebook friends. And in March, it acquired Beluga, a start-up that allows sharing photos and messages with small groups privately.
Last month, Facebook said its users had created 50 million groups with a median of just eight members. It also introduced the Send button, which websites can use to let people share things
with Facebook groups.
"We realised there wasn't a way to share with these groups of people that were already established in your real life — family, book club members, a sports team," said Peter Deng, director of product for Facebook Groups. "It's one of the fastest-growing products within Facebook. Usage has been pretty phenomenal."
No one expects the start-ups in this field — most of which are new and have re
latively few users — to replace Facebook or Twitter. Instead, their creators say that they do a better job of mimicking offline social relationships. NYT

Article from DNA

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