Facebook is all about sharing. But sharing doesn’t work.

Bozhidar Bozhanov
May 22, 2019 · 2 min read

The cliche about Facebook — that it’s all about sharing —has been used many times, by media and Facebook executives alike. It’s about sharing with your friends, sharing what you like and care about, yada yada.

The sad thing is — sharing doesn’t work. It’s broken. Not conceptually, not as a way of social engagement, but from a purely functional perspective.

There are (roughly) four types of Facebook status updates: text-only, link-only, text-and-link, and media (containing photos and video).

In my case the most common type is the “text-and-link”. You share an interesting link, but also add some relevant commentary. Alternatively, you write a long and detailed post and add a few links here and there to strengthen your argument.

And by default these posts can’t be shared properly. When someone likes your text and presses “share”, Facebook assumes that your commentary is irrelevant and just shares the link. Without the status text, the link may be useless or out of context. And this is not what people intended to share in the first place.

Sadly, this is the default behavior on mobile as well as desktop. On desktop at least you have to option to press the 2nd “share” button in the dropdown and then choose “include original post”. On mobile you don’t have that option.

How does twitter handle that? It always includes the original post when you retweet something. If you retweet it with comment, the original text is also retained, not just the link.

Facebook somehow treats links as more important than text and because of that it breaks sharing. And it hasn’t figured out a way for so many years to do that properly. It has always been broken and inconsistent, although in different ways.

If a company whose service is about sharing can’t get the sharing functionality right for a decade, I’m worried about them handling anything. Including political advertising, fake news or personal data. They are just too complacent to actually do a good job at anything.

Bozhidar Bozhanov

Software engineering. Linguistics, algorithmic music composition. Founder at LogSentinel.com

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