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Facebook announcement -- it's a boy!

Today, after much hullaballoo, Facebook announced that we can now create specific groups to share things with. That's lame.

When I saw there was going to be a big Facebook announcement, I assumed that Facebook was pregnant. Or had broken up with Zuckerberg. Or had come up with a Dislike button.


(I'd like a Dislike button, except that I worry that doing so would cause a hole to open in the space-time continuum. I also wish there were a button that you could click to indicate you were indifferent to a comment or post -- except who would click it? Sometimes I lie awake at night wondering about this.)

But now we can create groups where we secretly share things with some people, but not everyone. Facebook realized that 95 percent of people are tagged in photos as a result of friends' tagging them. I could have told them that! I could also have told them that it's all the result of that one guy in every friend group. (Thanks, Derek!) If you don't know the guy who goes through your photo albums and tags them, it doesn't mean you are the guy. It means that a stranger is tagging your photos!

I still maintain that Facebook should let you see the photo albums of the enemies of your enemies.

In general, Facebook changes produce only one tangible effect: Right after they happen, everyone joins a group named, "IF ANYTHING LIKE THAT EVER OCCURS AGAIN, I SWEAR, I'M QUITTING FACEBOOK." The membership here overlaps amazingly well with the membership of the group "If Y is elected, I'm moving to Canada." Both seem to stay put no matter what. Facebook should take advantage of this more, say, by changing all our default privacy settings so we share everything with everyone -- oh, wait.

Still, I like the concept of limited sharing, except that I'm not certain it goes well with my personality. Last week, I cornered a stranger on the bus and told her about traumas I suffered in childhood, my hidden weaknesses, and the name of my spirit animal. I've always liked Facebook because it doesn't discriminate between people you know and like, people you just kind of know, and people you actively dislike. You just tell everybody everything! But now, that'll change.

Limited sharing makes sense for everyone who holds a job and a Facebook simultaneously. But suddenly I'm nostalgic for the era when, by default, I got all kinds of weirdly detailed updates from people I met one time at a Star Wars convention. I had gotten so invested in their narratives! Now how will we be able to tell that someone we were friends with in elementary school is going through a werewolf phase? This is devastating!

Part of Facebook's appeal before was its naïve charm. We knew that woman we met on the bus would see those photos of us dressed as a drunk weather forecaster. We shrugged and tagged them anyway.

Maybe Facebook's growing up. I blame the Social Network.

By Alexandra Petri  | October 6, 2010; 5:06 PM ET
Categories:  Only on the Internet, Petri, That's awkward  | Tags:  Facebook  
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