Social Media Auto Cross-Posting is Bad! Really Bad!

In: Facebook|Friendfeed|Plurk|Social Networking|Twitter

6 Apr 2009

Not long time ago, my favourite Twitter Desktop App, Tweetdeck, had a new beta version released.  In this release, one of the new feature was the integration with Facebook.  This means that you can now opt to send your Twitter updates to Twitter and Facebook at the same time.

Tweetdeck to FB

This kind of,  so-called cross-posting, is not new in Social Media platform. Some other apps have already had this feature for a long time; and spring to mind.  But these are all third-party applications, that built their service on top of the API provided by corresponding social media services.

Recently, we’ve seen moves from popular Social Media services, to provide cross-posting feature that is built into the platform itself, or at least with a bit of help from other helper app.  So now, you can have a setting which will auto-post your status on one Social Media platform to other supported services:  Facebook to Twitter, Twitter to Facebook, Plurk to Facebook, Plurk to Twitter, Twitter to FriendFeed, FriendFeed to everything else (and back to FriendFeed) :)

The whole thing is a nightmare.

A few months ago, one Twitter friend whom also using FriendFeed (FF) discovered that FF has a feature to publish his FF activities to Twitter, so he innocently (as we all do) turned this feature on, posted a couple of Tweets to test the link and went away.  What he forgot was that he also set FF to share his Twitter updates on his FF timeline.

Friendfeed -Twitter

As you can imagine, the result is catastrophic, as both FF and Twitter kept feeding the same Tweets to each other again and again and again, created a feedback loop and flooded both his timelines (FF and Twitter) with the duplicate Tweets.  His Twitter followers started to get (very) annoyed and asked him to turn the feature off, but because he wasn’t around at that moment, the requests looked as if they were got ignored. The crowds revolted, as the feedback tweets came more often. Some followers immediately unfollowed, though some others were patient enough to wait.  By the time he came back and  check his timeline, it was a total mess. Obviously he apologised immediately and turned off the feature right away, but unfortunately the damage had been done.  Some people whom less forgiving, might had, in a fit of anger, said some nasty things towards him. At the end, he got very upset with the whole thing and did an equivalent of  Twitter Suicide.

Similar thing happened to me when I discovered that Plurk provided a new feature to cross-post my Plurks to Facebook.  I turned this feature on, and for a while my Plurks were auto-posted to my Facebook wall.  One of my Facebook friend one day sent me a message that he was impressed reading my wall posts although he didn’t have a clue what ‘Plurk this’ and ‘Plurk that’ meant (because the wall post contains a link to the original Plurk item).

This really got me thinking, you know …  this cross-posting, it’s bad, really bad.

Here are why:

1. The generated posts resulted from this multi-posts are adding even more noise to the place (read: the tube) that is already so noisy we need Google to sort them out. They are of the same post, sent to ‘many’ different places, often to the same people, multiple times.  It’s a total waste of bandwidth.

2. The original context of the post is lost.  This is true especially when you post your status update from a particular platform and cross-post it to other services.  These updates are usually created within a certain context (e.g. answering someone’s question), for a certain environment (e.g. your Facebook family). By the time these updates appear on other platform’s timeline, the context are lost, they won’t make any sense what so ever to the people who reads the updates (your followers). And after a while, they become nuisance at best, or worst, upsetting, at which point your followers would promptly leave.

3. The worst of all these, is that cross-postings don’t generate conversation, the post are non-reciprocal.  Unless you intend to follow up your cross-post, it will become just a one-way broadcast update; which is fine, if that was the context for which the post was originally created.  But, as the point above points out, more often than not, we create this post with intention of having conversation with our ‘network’.  Again, it will greatly annoy your followers, when they realize that they can’t join the conversation that you’ve created, even if they have something to say, because they know that you are not there listening.  I personally have experienced this many times, and every time this thing happens I get furious, as I realize that I can’t say anything back.

What I am trying to say here is, it’s fine to do cross-posting as long as you do it in consideration of the others (your followers). If you want to do it with the intention of just to broadcast, then you should warn your followers that this is what you are doing, and that you are not going to follow up your posts.  This way, at least we can ‘mute’ you :)
If you are planning to engage in some conversations, then you should turn off all auto cross-post from your platforms.  Use third-party apps that are capable of cross-posting, when you really want to do it, but remember to follow it through. I often cross-post between Twitter and Plurk whenever I find a useful link that I think my followers would like, but after I do it, I always check both places to anticipate any conversation that may follow from it.

That is what I call ‘Responsible Cross-Posting‘.

Please think more about your followers and be more considerate.

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7 Responses to Social Media Auto Cross-Posting is Bad! Really Bad!



April 9th, 2009 at 10:52

yup. be responsible when cross-posting.
and please do not use plurk since plurk appends its post link.

and, posting comment using openID gives me 404 error.



April 9th, 2009 at 11:12

good post and something I've been thinkning about for a long time. One of the reasons i like so much, I have set up triggers there to try and avoid any web 2.0 loops being created.



June 18th, 2009 at 03:57

wow. that's a good point on the loop thing. never thought of that.
i stopped cross-posting from plurk to twitter for the reasons you pointed out.



August 13th, 2009 at 17:28

This look interesting,so far.
If it’s not just all bots here, let me know. I’m looking to network
Oh, and yes I’m a real person LOL.



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