10 Things We Wish We Could Opt Out of on Facebook
Facebook may have changed the way we communicate, keep up with long lost friends and pretend that we're doing actual work in the office, but it has come at a great cost to privacy. Now the federal government is forcing the social networking giant to ask all 800 million of their users if they wish to “opt out” of certain settings and features that might expose some of their personal information to the entire world.
We applaud these efforts to ensure our privacy, and we think it should be taken even further. Facebook should not only make sure that our most sensitive information isn't exposed to the general public, but they should also ask us if we want to “opt out” of the most annoying causes of social networking headaches that have spread like some virtual flesh eating bacteria that cannot be stopped. Yes, some of these things can be remedied through filters, but we shouldn't have to take the time to constantly update our settings just to keep from going insane. Here are ten things we wish we could permanently “opt” out of on Facebook.
We may not all be parents, but we get how you feel about your little bundle of joy. You want to share his or her sheer beauty with anyone who can see or hear. The only problem is that some of these photos and stories are best kept in the nursery where they belong. An “opt out” for status updates about stinky diapers and photos of infants that look like Winston Churchill with a sinus infection is a must.
Facebook would be perfect if you got invitations to parties, rallies and other gatherings that were actually near you, but most of them are for things that would require chartering a plane and flying across the country. Rather than eliminate any and all invitations on the off chance that one of them might actually be in our timezone, Facebook should just limit them by distance (20 miles seemed like a nice round number) to our location. They're already able to track down our location by mere inches whether we want them to or not, so they might as well use that information to help us cut down on invites to parties that require a layover in Topeka to get to.
The best and worst thing about Facebook is that it can unite millions around a single cause. While many Facebook groups draw attention to worthy causes, a few use their share of cyberspace to gather people around something that no one in their right mind would publicly proclaim their love for while also asking others to join. “Opting out” of useless group requests would keep our inboxes free of invitations to join groups like “Lick Lollipops to Free Lindsay Lohan” or “Bring Back 'Mr. Belvedere'” once and for all.
The only thing that's a bigger timewaster than the Facebook gaming phenomenon 'FarmVille' is having to sift through and delete all the invitations we get to help someone with their crops and our friends' announcements about the milestones they achieved on their fake farm. It would be more interesting if these virtual farmers were run over by a fake tractor or kicked by a virtual cow. Until Zynga adds that milestone to the game, we'd rather just not read anything about them from anyone.
The only thing more annoying than parents with Facebook accounts are pet owners with Facebook accounts. For some reason, they think it's cute to stick poor Fluffy in a turkey costume that was probably made by sweatshop laborers. Facebook should have an “opt out” filter for pictures of these poor animals not just for our sanity, but also for the pets. Until Facebook allows animals to have accounts where they can post embarrassing photos of their owners, let's even the playing field a little bit.
The internet should be focused on giving the user a sense of escape from their own world and help them learn and see things they wouldn't normally see or learn. Facebook seems to have a knack for showing people things and events from our world that we would rather not let anyone know about. This “opt out” option would prevent any so-called “friend” from ever identifying us in photos that feature the thing we fell on, passed out on, or puked on at any party, wedding reception or funeral.
We have a hard enough time coming up with plausible stories and excuses for our parents for why we didn't have any eyebrows after last night's “book club meeting” or how our hair caught on fire. Facebook is the annoying little sibling that loves to rat out the crazy, free-spirited and sometime illegal things we did to our parents, so being able to just cut them off at the source would save us from having a lot of awkward conversations during the holidays.
Just when we start getting used to the layout and features that Facebook gives us, they suddenly decide to scrap everything and force us to worry about things like timelines and news feeds and what have you. It would be easier and simpler if we could just stick with the Facebook layout we already have and not have to spend time away from our kids, work and lives trying to get used to an even more cluttered and confusing design. If we wanted that, MySpace would still be in business.
We're not implying in any way that we don't care or feel anything for their families and friends when someone famous or mildly famous passes away. We're just tired of having to sift through the thousands of tribute status updates that all of our friends post because they've suddenly decided that they're a huge fan of someone who they barely paid attention to when they were alive. You're not at their funeral — you're in your living room on your iPad watching 'Once Upon a Time.' Ease up on the status update throttle.
Nothing makes a job worse than a boss who constantly rides you to maintain 110% of your time, effort and bodily energy on working. In fact, more than 50 percent of companies actually put web blockers in place that prevent their employees from accessing any social networking sites. It would be awesome if Facebook could somehow put an “opt out” in place that would allow us to “opt out” of our bosses' “opting us out” from viewing Facebook on the clock.