FriendFeed Looking at Giving Users More Control Over Who Reads What in Their Feeds


At the UGCX conference this week, I attended a session on social media mashups. The session included FriendFeed co-founder Paul Buchheit, along with folks from Google, iWidget, Kyte and Gigya. Someone in the room asked this question (paraphrasing):

How do I gain more control over my identity and what I publish across social networks? I want to separate my personal and professional identities, and control who sees various parts of my online life.

There was some discussion by others about things like OpenID and OAuth. The guy who asked the question clarified that he wasn’t talking one ID to rule them all, rather he wanted a way to better control to whom his lifestream was published.

That’s when Paul spoke up from the panel. He said FriendFeed was looking at giving users more control over who reads what in their feeds.

Well how about that?

He didn’t elaborate on how FriendFeed was planning to do this. And lord knows they probably have a gazillion other ideas on their plate. But his comment struck me as an interesting approach to an issue that seems to plague some social network users. Indeed, it’s one that’s an ongoing discussion on FriendFeed.

Let’s speculate about what this might be like.

A Change in the Consumer-Publisher Relationship

FriendFeed has developed a really strong foundation for people to manage the information they consume. Follow only those you want. Hide with multiple options. Lists to segment people.

The FriendFeed publisher controls are:

  • Decide which services will be fed in
  • The nuclear option of setting your feed as private
  • Using invite-only Rooms for your content

Those options tend to be “heavy”. What might a more nuanced approach look like?

You use your Lists as the basis for deciding who will see a FriendFeed post or an entire external feed.

You then designate which people’s streams will include your post or service. If you’re not on that List, you don’t see it. Presumably, your post or service will be searchable by everyone.

For instance, my crazy music tastes could be limited to a select few who seem to like them. Or LOLCatz pictures would be posted, but only for people on your LOLCatz List. Or esoteric work things only go to your professional List, because they’ll bore others to tears.

It would be an interesting approach. Keep in mind that I’m purely speculating about how such a system would work.

Facebook Has Some Notion of Groups

On Facebook, you can share some things only with specified groups of your social network. When you post photos, you can specify who gets to see them.  When writing Notes, you can do the same. It’s not pervasive on everything you share on Facebook, but it’s there.

Wouldn’t surprise me to see the FriendFeed guys come out with a really clever way to handle this. And then see Facebook implement the same feature 6 – 9 months later.


See this post on FriendFeed:


About Hutch Carpenter
Chief Scientist Revolution Credit

One Response to FriendFeed Looking at Giving Users More Control Over Who Reads What in Their Feeds

  1. Pingback: StevieB’s Shared Items - February 13, 2009 at Lost in Cyberspace

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