How Not To Make Music Social: The Way Spotify And Facebook Did It

from the massively-lame dept

Last week there was a lot of talk about Facebook’s new setup, which would allow for tighter integration and sharing of everything that people do, with music being a key example. Whether or not that’s a good idea, I have no idea. To be honest, I think that it could make sense long term — but the way that it’s been implemented seems like a disaster to me, as I discovered when I logged into Spotify today. Apparently, Spotify is pissing off a ton of people by requiring a Facebook login to use the service now. I have less of an issue with that than I do with the fact that Spotify popped up a box telling me I had to connect to Facebook, but not making it at all clear what that meant. It notes that Spotify can share the details of what I’m listening to with others, but does not explain what that means. Will it share everything I play with everyone automatically? Will it give me the option of what to share? Will it give me the option of who I’m sharing it with? That’s not clear at all. Even worse, nowhere is there any explanation of how or where I can find out more. Instead, Spotify just opens as normal.

It turns out that Spotify just starts sharing everything you play on Facebook, without even making it clear to the user that it’s doing that. I couldn’t find that info on my own profile. It was only after I asked a question and a Facebook friend told me what I was listening to that I knew the info was being shared. Even worse, how to turn it off is not clear at all either. Thankfully Lifehacker explains how to stop spamming everyone with what you’re playing on Spotify. You can do so by unchecking the following box, which makes no sense at all:

If you can’t see it, it says: “Get personal recommendations by sending music you play to Facebook’s Open Graph.” But, what does “personal recommendations” have to do with anything? Why can’t Spotify just be upfront and honest and say, “spam all your friends on Facebook with what you’re playing”? Again, I recognize that some people want to do this, and I have no problem with people choosing to do it. My problem is with the way that Facebook and Spotify implemented this, where it’s not even remotely clear what you’re doing. Given Facebook’s similar problems in the past (hello, Beacon) you would think that the company would recognize the importance of being clear and totally upfront about what info is being shared with whom and how to control it. Instead, it seems like the exact opposite.

Again, I’d have no problem sharing some of what I listen to if I have control over it. But, really, are any of my friends really going to want to know when I play the “lullaby playlist” I put together for my son? There are some friends with whom I have no problem sharing what I’m listening to, but plenty of others where it’s just not something I’d share with them at all. And perhaps there are hidden controls buried in the preferences somewhere, but it’s not at all clear, which leads me to now totally distrust Spotify and Facebook. Facebook I was already on the fence about, but I liked Spotify (and pay for a subscription). If these companies can’t even get the basics right concerning how I can share my info, I’m going to have to look elsewhere. It’s amazing how quickly a company can destroy a ton of goodwill.

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Companies: facebook, spotify

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Comments on “How Not To Make Music Social: The Way Spotify And Facebook Did It”

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fogbugzd (profile) says:

It is good to know that there is a way to stop sharing. I was preparing to cancel my Spotify account.

I still might cancel it because I don’t like the way they have handled this. Now that they have pulled this stunt they have lost my trust. I don’t fully trust any online service, but once a service proves that my lack of trust is justified I usually don’t go back.

Jim says:

Honestly this is exactly the reason I stopped using Spotify too… I was really miffed when suddenly I was *required* to let Spotify do what it wanted to do with Facebook. I had no problem with integrating it w/ Facebook as a simple friends list feature but once it wanted to start using my wall I immediately stopped using it. It’s sad because in general I liked the service but I’m back to google music for now w/ my own collection.

Rob Sheridan (profile) says:

This also speaks to an issue with the direction Facebook is going, which I saw a couple blogs highlight the other day: Facebook’s vision of “frictionless” sharing (apps that indescriminately auto-share everything you do) takes away what makes sharing valuable: Selectivity. When I share something online, it’s because it’s something I found interesting and think that my friends or followers would also find interesting. That gives it value, because I’m actively selecting what I think is worth sharing and what isn’t. I look at hundreds of things on the internet every day, but only find a handful that I think are worth passing around. If Facebook is telling my friends every single thing I watch on YouTube and Netflix, and every song I listen to on Spotify, etc, those aren’t valuable shares for anybody. It’s just spam. Taking the selectivity out of sharing feels like a step way backwards in an internet that is becoming very much about social curation and noise reduction. If one of my friends has heard a new song – or even a hundred songs – that they like so much they want to share with me – that’s great. But every single song they happen to listen to? Who wants that? I know there are millions of narcisistic over-sharers out there who will lap these abilities up, but it just makes me want to stay the hell away from Facebook.

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There’s two trends I’ve noticed with Facebook (the company) that are combining here:

1. They believe everyone should share everything whether they want to or not because it’s somehow “better” for everyone if they do.
2. They know better than their users how they want to use the site, thus they won’t allow them to customize anything.

Combine those, you get share everything with no way to customize what you share or who you share it with, exactly what’s happening.

And amazingly, even though they’ve incited many, many episodes of furious outrage (that’s even gotten them in trouble with congress a few times) they have not learned a damn thing. They still have this insane arrogance that they know better than everyone what’s best for them and do they do whatever they damn please. Even when a deaf & blind beggar who’s never used the Internet could predict what they’re doing will piss everyone off.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

And yet people still use Facebook in droves. Maybe it’s because they’re the only game in town, but you’d think if that many people were that angry that many times, they’d stop using the service, yet they don’t. So there must be something more to it. Either they’re a monopoly (why aren’t they being grilled by the senate?), or people really aren’t as upset as they say they are. I don’t know what it is.

*Disclaimer: I don’t have a facebook account, and every time I even start to consider making one, something like this happens, so I probably never will have an account.

Jess says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

They’re essentially a monopoly. I have my issues with FB and would love to have everyone migrate over to G+, but I still spend tons of my time on FB. Why? I have over 900 FB friends, with the ones I actually care about separated from the rest on my account when I log in so that I can keep up with them. By contrast, I have 80 friends on G+. In that entire network, less than 5 people have updated in the last two weeks.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Facebook isn’t there to allow you to select what you want to share. Its business is information. Which is why allegations of it following you even logged out (to websites you use that have FB integration).

It was buried in the ToS, so everyone that uses FB has accepted this.

Source for allegations:

out_of_the_blue says:

"Why can't Spotify just be upfront and honest"?

Where’s the money in THAT? Advertisers DRIVE the biz, Mike, NOT those getting “free” services. See how that turns around and bites you? You’ve NO way to affect them except by leaving, while hordes of dolts remain, so they don’t care.

You know, Mike, pretty soon, as young idiots continue to build “features” that no reasonable person can stand, you’re going to become indistinguishable from numerous grumpy geezers (the “get off my lawn” trope). — EVERY ONE OF YOU WILL! And then you’ll be called “Luddite”, “dinosaur”, and so on. Enjoy.

MonkeyFracasJr (profile) says:


There’s a reason people get pissed at others trampling their lawn. Because they’re TRAMPLING the LAWN!

I want to have some thing “nice.” i.e. The way I want it, not the way you want it. The thing is, a lot of things could be had both ways or many ways but a few people catering to the “masses” TRAMPLE my way (my “lawn”).

Anonymous Coward says:

Never did go to facebook. Never gonna either. You’re the cash cow on facebook. It’s always about how to get you to give up more privacy so they have a bigger database to sell.

I don’t like that. Nor do I like those places that figure you should opt-out (because it’s fishy and no one in their right mind would probably agree without some sort of incentive to do so.

I’ve always operated by the theme that no one will protect your privacy for you.

Good bye Spotify, I never knew you.

Atkray (profile) says:

Dear online service/site

I signed up for your service/site with the information I am using for my own personal reasons. I went out of my way not to use my google, live, or facebook information. You asking me repeatedly to do so only detracts from the marginal value I find in your service/site. When that value reaches 0 I stop my relationship with your service/site. I realize there are millions of people that only can remember their facebook login info and want to use it for everything and I respect your desire to make it easy for them. Please allow me to choose how I consume your product.

Thank you very much.

Now I have to go chase that pesky out_of_the_blue off my lawn.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: u get what u pay for

Here’s a novel idea… out a few bucks a month and actually license that music you listen to. Then some arrogant punk in California won’t have your private data in a vice like grip.

Did you miss the part where I said I pay for a Spotify account? That is, I *do* license the music I listen to.

Yes, you did miss that part.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: u get what u pay for

You pay, which is commendable.

They, in contrast, scrape your data and ship it to places known only to the Good Lord, which is not commendable.

While the internet is easily the most valuable technology-based, communication system that has arisen for the benefit of the public over the past 15-20 years, the surreptitious and at times underhanded way personal data is being gathered for sale to the highest bidder makes the system on occasion seem almost like a curse.

Copyright infringement is one aspect of the internet that gives me pause for concern, but the loss of personal privacy about what I do, where and when I do it, etc. is in my view far more pernicious.

Frankly, I am now curious just what business relationship exists between sites like Facebook and other internet sites where the “sale” of private data is an apparent part of the relationship. Who knows? Maybe there are some benefits to that which is offered by legacy companies.

Easy says:

Re: Re: Spotify pays next to nothing

Spotify keeps most of that subscription money and gives pennies to the artists.

To support artists, pay them directly. Stop supporting these terrible giants who are trying to become the next exploiters in place of the former major labels. (Oh, actually, the major labels are huge investors in Spotify.)

Support individuals.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: u get what u pay for

Here’s a novel idea….stop shelling out any money and just download the music that you listen to. Then the only information about you anyone could possibly have is that someone using your ip address might possibly be interested in xyz music.

Or you can do what was described in the article: You can pay to license music from Spotify and still have some arrogant punk in California holding your private data in a vice like grip.

Easy says:

Re: Re: Choice 3

Buy directly from artists instead of through an entity like Spotify that gives virtually nothing to artists. Artists might receive between $5 and $8 from a $10 sale. Or they will receive less than a penny for your playing them on Spotify.

The whole thing is a scam against (most) artists and in favor of the major players.

out_of_the_blue says:

"basics right concerning how I can share my info"

Heh, heh. “MY info”. What a funny old concept. — It’s not “your” info, Mike! Take off your rose-colored glasses and try to grasp what the internet ACTUALLY is, especially Google and Facebook: a surveillance system. Those corporations make money by selling (supposedly only commercial) information about you. They’ll leverage you however they wish. — WHY is there even this connection? Who knew Facebook and Spotify were conspiring this way?

A required Facebook login will become nearly universal as a de facto ID. — You can take that to the bank, literally, ha. — Soon be impossible to do even commenting without it, already is at LATimes.

[Right now, you’re at the stage in this horror movie where you’ve noticed some odd habits of “Count Alucard”. Next is the shock that he doesn’t have a reflection in a mirror. You’ll be ineluctably lead to a conclusion that you dread.]

Casey says:

Why Spotify?

It is not required that an existing user connect with Facebook, though it is strongly encouraged. Only new users are required to login and connect with Facebook. It is highly possible that they will require everyone to login using Facebook, but for now that is not so.

Spotify is foolish to require new subscribers who are willing to pay, to connect with with Facebook. It is no secret that Spotify wants to data mine your Facebook page for advertisements. But if you pay, they shouldn’t need to do this. Unless they do it anyway….

I honestly don’t see what is so great about Spotify anyway. Besides the interface, what does it offer that Rhapsody and MOG do not? I currently pay for Rhapsody and I have payed for MOG. I have used Spotify’s free service and trialed Rdio. In all honesty, I see nothing all that impressive about Spotify.

person287 (user link) says:

Facebook isn't out to 'get you'

Hey commenters. I’ve got a crazy idea, but maybe Facebook isn’t actually out to ‘get you’ and ‘steal your privacy’, and maybe if 800 million people are ok with it you should just accept it’s a reputable company. CCTV is everywhere, I’m sure that’d be a bigger problem with privacy than Facebook. Sure they use your details to advertising, but I’d much rather have ads that are relevant than just random annoying ones. Facebook is ok, get over it.

Of course the posting thing on spotify is a bit annoying, but it can be turned off, and I’m sure that there are bigger annoyances in your life than that.

Jann Gobble says:

Re: Facebook isn't out to 'get you'

Notice the one that said “Facebook isn’t out to ‘get you'” posted as “person287” instead of a real name?

Just sayin’.

For the record, I don’t mind being identified for my account. That can be done with my name, address and credit card! It should be done by THAT company It does NOT need to be done in concert with a third party company whose main goal is to gather as much information about everyone as it can.

Also, can you guess the percentage of those people who, later in life, will rue the day they that Spotify posted “Jann Gobble listened to ‘Smack my B*tch’ on September 26, 2011”? Do you REALLY want all your listening habits (and TV watching habits, and the phone numbers you call, etc) in the hands of a company who can use them as it sees fit? At least with the phone company, a court order is required!


John Doe says:

Glad to see I am not the only one

Facebook I was already on the fence about,

The thing that is doing it for me is that every time there is a change, they try to open everything up and not tell you. You have to go in and shut it back down. I don’t want people to know what music, movies, books, etc I am listening too, watching or reading. I especially don’t like the new timeline feature. Facebook is gathering too much info in one place.

Strawbear (profile) says:

This could well result in spotify shooting themselves in the foot, if people can’t figure out how to stop the sharing (or if they decide to share) they may very well stop listening to all those songs which are guilty pleasures, soon lots of people will just listen to things they think their friends might like.

My loathing for Inyourfacebook grows weekly at the moment, with most people I know using that rather than emailing, I’m forced to belong to it even tho everything in my entire being screams “run away” everytime I log in. I don’t WANT my entire existence out there even if other people are largely ignoring it. I don’t want my friends and relations knowing every last thing I’ve done this week.

Whatever happened to private space along side keeping in touch with people?

this-is-not-the-borg-u-r-looking-for says:

Re: Response to: Strawbear on Sep 27th, 2011 @ 5:26am

Your problem is that you limit your own choices. I tell anyone who wishes to maintain contact with me by what means I am available. I choose whether I have a cell phone, an gmail, a yahoo mail, a hotmail, or not. You have been trained and conditioned to behave this way. When cell phone and phone companies started with their family plans, they trained you into a thought process that concludes that all friends & family should strive to communicate via the same service. Then all the sheeple complain about monopolies and bad service from monolithic global giant companies who have reduced your humanity to data.

I can turn my phone, internet, and email off at any time. And still talk to my friends & family. Its called writing, or (gasp!) even visiting in person for a face to face live chat that isn’t video!

this-is-not-the-borg-u-r-looking-for says:

Re: Response to: Strawbear on Sep 27th, 2011 @ 5:26am

Your problem is that you limit your own choices. I tell anyone who wishes to maintain contact with me by what means I am available. I choose whether I have a cell phone, an gmail, a yahoo mail, a hotmail, or not. You have been trained and conditioned to behave this way. When cell phone and phone companies started with their family plans, they trained you into a thought process that concludes that all friends & family should strive to communicate via the same service. Then all the sheeple complain about monopolies and bad service from monolithic global giant companies who have reduced your humanity to data.

I can turn my phone, internet, and email off at any time. And still talk to my friends & family. Its called writing, or (gasp!) even visiting in person for a face to face live chat that isn’t video!

Ian Channing (profile) says:

Time for diaspora folks

Spotify is not the problem, they just got caught in the headlights of the Facebook juggernaught.

I’m surprised we’ve got this far down and no-one’s mentioned Diaspora:

Its the alternative private-friendly version of Facebook. Even Mark Zuckerbergs’s on it. However it needs volumes of people to get others to switch.

I think you can give out infinite invites now – if anyone wants an invite you can contact me via my website

Tim K (profile) says:

No Spotify for me

Seems stupid of Spotify to require a user to be a member of a separate service. Even if it makes things easier on their integration it seems like it could be a big problem for them. I for one, de-facebooked this week. I barely ever used Facebook, have no interest in it, and it seems to get worse with every story I read about the company and its practices. For Spotify to team up with Facebook just seems like a foolish decision. I understand the “hugeness” of Facebook and wanting to tap into that network, but other companies tie into Facebook without requiring it.

Oh well, I guess I’ll never even try Spotify.

Appwhizkid (profile) says:

Making Music Social

I agree with many of the points Mike posted in his article. In my opinion music streaming and sharing is an experience to be used by a single user, shared with another user or with a group. Not sure if we want to be held hostage to being sucked up into permission based hosted services.

As these Social giants play on hosted solutions, I think it is worth it to look at a new birth of music experience and that is MyStream.

MyStream is a mobile to mobile audio streaming and sharing technology that allows one to One or one to many users the ability to share music in a private network.

The software turns each mobile device into a client and server and thaws guys are a small startup with a huge idea!!!

Check em out on: There are 2 video to see.

Product landing page is App is currently free on iTunes AppStore and they are working on the Droid.

Be cool! Try it out and clearly they just started and will continue to build on the original concept.

Jann Gobble says:

Re: Re:

My issue is, you shouldn’t HAVE to unshare it. You should have to *share* it … not unshare it! You also shouldn’t have to use a Facebook login which opens up my entire Facebook “Graph” to them. There is no option for “less” permissions. You are still giving them full access to all your data. They just may not display it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Dont use facebook if you’re just going to bitch about it. its free for everybody, so they can do whatever the hell they want. if you dont like it, it doesn’t matter. you dont PAY for the service so you have no say in it, and neither does anyone else that uses facebook. if you’re so worked up about it, why don’t you all make your own social website. you obviously all have plenty of time to do worthless things.

Kevin says:

Spotify doesn't pay artists near enough

Spotify doesn’t pay pennies on the dollar, it pays pennies on the penny. Recently, indie label Projekt Records pulled out of its deal with Spotify, citing a minuscule $0.0013-per-play payout as one reason for bailing. In 2010, The Guardian published an article in which author Sam Leith revealed a rather shocking piece of information: In the space of a few months, Lady Gaga’s smash hit “Poker Face” received over 1 million streams. She was compensated to the tune of $167.

As for the Facebook thing it isn’t a big deal if you simply log in to your Facebook and change the settings directly there. Those are miniscule problems compared to the dying music industry thanks to monsters like Spotify!

Kirt Edward says:

Spotify is highly suspect, but even Assange warns of face book.

How hard would it be to piggy back individually tailored subliminal messages, instructions, orders to an account holder on carrier waves, such as your favorite music. Once the individual has selected music for his library…they know you’ll play it again. This technology has been around for ages but with this free music methodology the masses will participate. What a way to mind control someone from afar.

rosun says:

The facebook also provide the facility of privacy settings. If the users do not want their friends to know about their login status, they can enable or disable login notifcation in simple way. If you are also trying to do so and come across this page then you can view tips from as i also find this specific page very helpful in these terms.

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