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Category: Social Web

RIP FriendFeed, 2007-2015

friendfeedYou’d think I’d have a lot to say about the shuttering of FriendFeed, my online community, the place where I lived day in and day out for nearly 8 years (which matches the longest span of time I’ve lived in any physical neighborhood in my life). I’ve made and lost friends, mourned death, celebrated birth and marriage, learned to engage with opposing and complementary views, and generally grown up as a person and as a librarian on FriendFeed.

But I find I don’t have much to say as Facebook turns out the lights on us today and does whatever Facebook does with servers it no longer supports. What could anyone possibly say?

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FriendFeed Resurrected: the Afterstory

As with most stories involving hacktivism, major corporations, insanity, and backwater social media platforms, we will probably never know exactly what happened this past weekend when FriendFeed went down for a day and a half.

Theory One

Exhibit A

One perfectly plausible theory is that someone accidentally tripped over the FF server’s power cord down in Facebook Headquarters and nobody noticed until Sunday. Meanwhile an Anon thought this would be a good time to protest censorship, little realizing that this would make Anonymous a bit of a laughing stock.


Exhibit B

Evidence for this theory includes: A) the fact that someone at FB HQ could “push the button” that made FF go again, and B) the complete laughability of any Anon thinking FF was one of the biggest social networks in the world.



Theory Two

A snippet of Exhibit A (click to see the full crazy)
A snippet of Exhibit A (click to see the full crazy)

The other theory is that this misguided Anon really did throw an epic tantrum thinking that account deletion (and therefore content deletion) combined with buggy search equals censorship. Evidence for this theory include A) the continuing tantrum that this Anon is throwing over in FF over having had his account deleted as spam and having seen other content disappear and, somehow, images of the Boston Marathon Bombing and an over-representation of librarians on FF… (I believe the technical term is “batshit”)…


Exhibit B


…and B) the complete laughability of thinking “here’s a cause that nobody at FB HQ will care about — let’s claim responsibility because then they will PHEER US” when really, nobody at FB noticed until we told them.

Either way, Anonymous (or at least this Anon) didn’t do itself any favors. … And now I’ll probably be DoSed. Sigh.


Whatever the truth, we’ve learned a few things:

  1. Back when FF was still its own thing and they were still developing and improving its code, the data that the search function used was all housed on one machine. Since then, we’ve generated a LOT of data, so essentially old stuff isn’t indexed any more. Probably some new stuff isn’t either. There just isn’t space. So that’s good to know for all of us.
  2. Facebook let us live! And even revived us!
  3. Anonymous, or at least this Anon, doesn’t seem to understand some fundamental things about life, the universe, and everything.
  4. There is apparently an over-representation of librarians on FriendFeed.
  5. It’s a good thing Iain Baker (of Jesus Jones) has an extensive social network. We owe him and his network a whole lot of thanks.

UPDATE for the lulz: The worst insult known to humankind.



Johnny is not a librarian. It’s just that Exhibit A for Theory Two started with this post:


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The day Anonymous took down … FriendFeed?


Apparently, Anonymous has mistaken FriendFeed for “One of the biggest social networks” and is therefore venting spleen in the form of a DDoS attack. Why? Because hashtag searching for something Anonymous was interested in didn’t work and therefore must have been censored. Must have! It couldn’t possibly be that FriendFeed is actually the forgotten stepchild of Facebook and the search function hasn’t worked consistently in years for any of us…

Now, for those of us active on FriendFeed, it’s a huge part of our lives and relationships. But none of us kid ourselves that we’re operating on “one of the biggest social networks.” In fact, most of us are simultaneously pleased and baffled that Facebook has let us limp along for 4 years on our preferred platform even after the whole FriendFeed team went to work for Facebook instead. TechCrunch can’t figure out why FriendFeed even still exists to be attacked. I’m mostly worried that this whole attack will remind Facebook that they forgot to pull the plug on us years ago.

So while we wait for Anonymous to realize what a backwater they’ve chosen on which to take their anti-nonexistent-censorship stand, we can speculate about a) how little they actually know about the internet, b) how bored/drunk/high they were when they launched this attack, and c) what they’ll take down next.

Rodfather has a guess about question C.


UPDATE: After almost 2 full days of downtime, Facebook got FriendFeed back up and running at 2:30 this afternoon. Rejoice!!!




The story continues in my next post.


Dear Facebook: Leave Me Alone

My friends know that I have a complicated relationship with Facebook. Simply put: I hate it, but I can’t leave. The interface never made sense to me, the multiple audiences made participation hard for me, the quizzes cluttered everything up, college friends flaunted their perfect lives in my face (without meaning to, but it still hurt), and Hasbro took away Scrabulous, which was really the only redeeming feature of Facebook. So why can’t I leave? My local friends assume I’ll know what they’ve posted when we meet on the weekend.

I’d finally figured out a balance that worked for me: I put my local friends and my family members on a list of their own, dragged that list to the top of my list of lists, and now when I open Facebook, they’re all I see. But then Facebook started messing with privacy settings again. For a more full story, check this out: Facebook’s New Privacy Changes: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. But here are the four things I did this morning in my battle to coexist with Facebook:

  • Overwrote and then deleted some parts of the newly designated set of “publicly available information” (this includes your name, profile picture, current city, gender, networks, and the pages that you are a “fan” of). I overwrote what I could because I wanted to actually change the cached information in Facebook’s database, and then I deleted it because a) I don’t want to give that information away, and b) it was now bogus anyway.
  • Clicked “edit profile” and then the little “edit” icon next to my Friends list and unchecked the box that says “show my friends on my profile” because that seems to be the only way to keep my friends lists out of the hands of apps and random passers by.
  • Went to Facebook > Settings > Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites > What Your Friends Can Share About You and unchecked everything. I don’t like the idea that having a friend who answers quizzes on Facebook means that the quiz creators can gain access to a lot of my information.
  • For good measure, took the opportunity to go through all the other privacy settings and make sure they still reflected my wishes.

Is this overly paranoid of me? Probably. (Tinfoil hats help keep warmth in, remember, and it’s pretty incredibly cold out right now.) The thing is, I’m not invested enough in Facebook to feel like the privacy trade-off is worth it for me. I’m there so I can keep up with my local friends. Full stop. I’m already making concessions by making myself available to the students who want to friend me there and by grudgingly admitting that I like the rolodex function it plays. But I feel zero motivation to give up more than I can help to Facebook and its third party developers. They can kindly leave me alone, please.