We've all done it. You type something into Facebook and are all set to post it as a status update or a comment to someone else... and then your common sense takes over, and you realize that posting it would probably be a mistake. You were either about to post something fairly stupid, controversial or just ranty... and realized that, after taking a few breaths, life would probably be better for everyone if no one ever saw your words. Personally, when this has happened to me, it feels a bit cathartic. You were still able to type out what was in your brain... but no one ever had to see it. Or did they? According to a new report, Facebook is closely tracking and analyzing such "self-censorship"
in order to figure out ways to encourage you to post anyway. While the company claims it's not actually looking at the actual text, it could
do so, and is certainly looking at the situations in which you self-censor, trying to help you speed right by that little hesitation known as "thinking better of it":
Why does Facebook care anyway? Das and Kramer argue that self-censorship can be bad because it withholds valuable information. If someone chooses not to post, they claim, "[Facebook] loses value from the lack of content generation." After all, Facebook shows you ads based on what you post. Furthermore, they argue that it’s not fair if someone decides not to post because he doesn't want to spam his hundreds of friends—a few people could be interested in the message. "Consider, for example, the college student who wants to promote a social event for a special interest group, but does not for fear of spamming his other friends—some of who may, in fact, appreciate his efforts,” they write.
Right. But what about the other situation where someone is about to post something that is going to make a lot of people miserable. Aren't we all better off in those cases when the "self-censorship" brain cells kick in? Facebook might not think so, but I imagine that an awful lot of people would disagree.