How does Facebook Relationship status work

how to end facebook relationship status and how to show relationship status on facebook news feed and how to change facebook relationship without everyone knowing
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Published Date:14-08-2017
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One of Us, One of Us Relationships Having a group of people to hang out with, communicate with, and participate with is key to the successful social experience. One of the worst problems is to show up somewhere and find you’re alone. The ability to find friends and make them a part of your circle for participation is one of the key interactions to design when building a social site. The first impulse is to simply import all contacts from the variety of address books a user may have. This process, like casting a large net into the ocean and hoping for the best, doesn’t help filter out meaningful relationships. Not all contacts are equal. I may have my aunt and my accountant in my address book, but I don’t necessarily want them as friends on Facebook. The strength of ties in relationships and the type of site and network being encouraged all need to be considered when offering ways for users to build relationships. Additionally, the context surrounding these relationships needs to be considered when developing the circles of friendship. Is the friend-of-a-friend potentially more helpful than the people I may know directly, like on LinkedIn, where that second- or third-degree connection may be the key to the next job? Is the site a broadcast-type site, like Twitter, where following what a person has to say is more important than actually knowing him in real life? a 354 Chapter 14: One of Us, One of Us Is knowing a person in real life important, like having a small circle of trusted friends to share family photos with on Shutterfly or using a site like Centerd to plan an evening out with the group? The patterns in this chapter look at the ways to find and add friends to a user’s network and the considerations you must make when creating the framework for relationships. The framework must equally take advantage of weak ties and strong ties; it must allow users to change their minds, back and forth, about following or friending others; and it must be graceful in how the system alerts both the user and the recipient of the follow or unfollow. After all, while the system may be mediating the connection, it shouldn’t cause undue embarrassment or create a social faux pas. Finally, we look at relationships in the context of groups. In these cases, the topic of inter- est is often the driving factor for belonging and the relationships people grow over time. Relationships Terminology Cohort: A number of people banded together or treated as a group (as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary). Colleague: A person with whom one works (as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary). Connection: A link or relationship; the action of connecting; (connections) influential people with whom one has contact or to whom one is related (as defined by the Oxford English Dic- tionary). In social networking (e.g., Flickr), a person to whom a user has connected. The connec- tion may not necessarily be reciprocal. Contact: A person who may be asked for information or assistance (as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary). Family: A group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit; a group of people related by blood or marriage; the children of a person or couple; all the descendants of a common ancestor; a group united by a significant shared characteristic (as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary). Fan: A person who has a strong interest in or admiration for a particular sport, art form, or famous person (as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary). Follow: In social networking (e.g., Twitter), the act of marking a person or a person’s content to have streamed into your experience. On Facebook, this is streamed into the NewsFeed, and on Twitter, into the activity stream. Follower: A person who follows; a supporter, fan, or disciple (as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary). Friend: A person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations (as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary). In social networking (e.g., Facebook), a friend is someone who a user has connected to and the connection is recip- rocal and agreed upon by both parties. aRelationships 355 Find People What The user wants to find people she knows so she can connect and interact with them on a site or social web service (Figure 14-1). Figure 14-1. Various methods are presented to add connections on Facebook. Use when • Use when you want to help users find people they care about who may already be using this site. • Use to expand user’s circles of connections beyond friends and family. • Use to encourage connections after the initial network-building exercise. a 356 Chapter 14: One of Us, One of Us How Provide a variety of ways for users to build out their connections. Browsing for people Allow users to browse friends of friends. Consider presenting a user’s friends and connections in a graphical grid that shows ava- tars, and allow others to browse through to their profiles. Provide visual clues to a person’s identity (via the avatar) to help confirm that person’s identity (Figures 14-2, 14-3, 14-4, and 14-5). Figure 14-2. Friend grid on Upcoming. aRelationships 357 Figure 14-3. Friend grid on myBlogLog. Figure 14-4. Following grid on Twitter. Figure 14-5. Contact grid on Flickr. a 358 Chapter 14: One of Us, One of Us Searching for connections • Allow users to search for friends within the network on your site. • Provide a keyword field. Clearly indicate what terms are accepted in the search query—name, email, or other identifying factors. Facebook allows users to constrain a search by known information about the user. For example, users can search for people from their high school or college graduation years, or from companies they have worked for recently (Figure 14-6). Constraining the search in this way increases the likelihood of finding people a user really knows. Figure 14-6. Facebook offers constrained searches by a user’s schools and workplace. Finding friends from email, IM buddy list/contacts, and other networks • Allow the user to import contacts from his address book or instant messenger lists to use as a comparison list to find people already using the service. • Allow users to import their connections from Facebook using Facebook Connect. • Allow users to import their connections from Twitter using OAuth. • Compare known data points—name, email address, or other reliable information— and then present to the user a list (with images for ease of identification) of relevant people who also use the service. • Allow the user to select one or more names to make them connections. • If reciprocity is required, present the message that will be sent to the user and the option to send the request for connection or an option to cancel the request (see “Adding Friends” on page 361). • When bringing in people lists from an address book or address book service for a user to connect to, don’t automatically spam the user’s contacts asking to connect. • Don’t automatically spam the rest of the user’s contacts with invitations to join the service. aRelationships 359 Discovery/recommendations • Consider presenting people the user may know as potential connections (Figure 14-7). Figure 14-7. LinkedIn regularly makes people recommendations to encourage fleshing out a user’s network. • Use known connections and friends of friends to extrapolate potential connections for users. Why Having a circle of connections and friends is what makes the Web social. Building a net- work of connections is hard, and as more time goes by, becomes overly redundant as a user moves from site to site. Providing easy mechanisms for finding people and building their networks will encourage repeat use and prevent social-networking burnout. Portable Social Graph The easiest way to create a network upon joining a new site would be to bring your network with you. Although there are some contexts that may be very specialized and need only a small subset of people a user knows—for example, a fantasy sports site—for the most part, many current and future social sites are generalized enough that the network the user built on site A will be the same network of connections she wants on site B. The sc—ial graph , the network of people the user has built around herself (Figure 14-8), wants to be portable. There is a growing movement encouraging openness (hnnp://bradfinz.—cm/sc—ial- graph-prcblem/), just like with OpenID. The idea is to create a data standard that allows users to easily bring their network from one site to another without all the work involved in finding people and adding them into the network at each site. ——conionedd a 360 Chapter 14: One of Us, One of Us Portable Social Graph Figure 14-8. The author’s social graph on Facebook as visualized by TouchGraph. The logistics are far from resolved, but as new sites are being developed, being aware of this initiative and designing new sites and using data structures that play nice will encourage inter- play between sites and help the users out in the long run. Related patterns “Adding Friends” on page 361 “Sign-up or Registration” on page 45 As seen on Facebook ( Flickr ( LinkedIn ( myBlogLog ( Plaxo ( aRelationships 361 Twitter ( Upcoming (http// Adding Friends What A user has found people she knows on a social site and wants to add them to her circle of connections (Figure 14-9). Figure 14-9. Recommended connections from Facebook, based on current connections and friends of friends. Use when Use this pattern when: • User connections are a core part of the site’s experience. • Relationships will be confirmed, providing a two-way reciprocal relationship. • Allowing one user to follow another participant without reciprocity. • Ignoring a connection request is allowed. How Once a user has found people he cares about on your site (see “Find People” on page 355), provide an easy way to add these people as connections: • Provide a clear link (a button or text/icon combination) as the call to action to add this person as a friend (Figure 14-10). a 362 Chapter 14: One of Us, One of Us Figure 14-10. “Add as friend” call to action on • Once the person has been added as a Friend, clearly indicate to the user that this person is now a friend (Figure 14-11). Figure 14-11. Flickr indicates when you are already connected with another user. Confirming friendship/two-way connections Requiring two-way relationships encourages a network that more closely resembles real- world relationships: • Clearly indicate when selecting “add as a friend” that the relationship must be con- firmed by the other party before it will be recognized on the site (see Figures 14-12 and 14-13). Figure 14-12. Facebook shows the first confirmation screen, after selecting “Add as Friend”, alerting the user that the recipient of the request will have to confirm the relationship. aRelationships 363 Figure 14-13. Facebook shows a confirmation that the Add request has been sent and must be approved. • Likewise, alert users when a connection request is being made (Figures 14-14, 14-15, and 14-16). Figure 14-14. Facebook indicates friend requests in a “Requests” module on a user’s personal dashboard. Figure 14-15. LinkedIn alerts users to invitations to connect in the Inbox. a 364 Chapter 14: One of Us, One of Us Figure 14-16. Twitter has both public and private status streams. If the stream is private, it effectively is a two-way connection and must be approved by the person who is the recipient of the request. • Allow the user to cancel the request at any time. One-way following (aka asynchronous following) An alternative to reciprocal relationships is the one-way connection. This type of connec- tion is best used when the content is more important than a personal relationship. This is essentially a subscription to the person’s activities and contributions within the system (Figure 14-17). Figure 14-17. Twitter has a simple large “Follow” button associated with the identity of the person to follow. • Label the action in a way that doesn’t imply an intimate or real-life relationship, such as “friends” or “family.” Instead, use terminology like “Contacts,” “Fan,” or “Follow” (Figure 14-18). aRelationships 365 Figure 14-18. Flickr uses the terminology “Contact” when adding a person to your network. This is a one-way relationship. • When a connection is made, alert the connected person that a connection has been made (Figure 14-19). Figure 14-19. Flickr sends a notice every time someone is added as a connection. • If two parties connect to each other—in a mutual one-way connection—acknowledge the connection (Figure 14-20). a 366 Chapter 14: One of Us, One of Us Figure 14-20. Flickr sends a message when a relationship is reciprocated. Implicit and explicit relationships Most social networks require users to make explicit connections and declare their re- lationships publicly. But there are situations where the implied relationship will do. By subscribing to someone’s blog or joining an interest group, there is an implied relationship between the user and the author of the blog or the person and the group of people in- volved in the group. The very nature of being involved in the group implies relationships that may or may not be very strong. Expressing these implied relationships within the interface can help users make explicit connections as well as get a sense of the group they are involved with. Allow users to become involved without having to explicitly declare relationships, and let the relationships evolve over time. Fans and fame (aka asynchronous following) Public websites such as blogs and microblogs (e.g., Twitter), and sites such as Flickr, where the default for photo posts is public, allow their authors to broadcast to the world. Include interactions in the interface that allow users to follow or subscribe to the author or the au- thor’s content. These one-way relationships are often initiated by people who are just fans of the author or their content. “Fan” has an implied difference from “friend,” in that the relationship is usually one-way and there is often little or no direct interaction between the fan and the object of fandom other than consumed broadcasts. (See Figures 14-21, 14-22, and 14-23.) aRelationships 367 Figure 14-21. MyBlogLog allows users to add a widget to their blogs and track who visits. The widget declares the implicit community around the site, regardless of whether the site owner has any interaction with it. Figure 14-22. Twitter’s Followers grid and list is in essence a list of fans for a person or her tweets. To some, collecting followers has become a game or popularity contest. Figure 14-23. Bands have long used MySpace to build up their fan bases. They offer music and information about gigs and new releases, and allow their fans to interact with them and declare to the world their fanhood. Although the service calls all connections “Friends,” these are clearly fans. a 368 Chapter 14: One of Us, One of Us Ignore me Allow users to ignore connection requests. Clearly indicate what the consequences of “Ignore” will be; otherwise, the outcome will be a collection of neglected connection requests living in some sort of perpetual purgatory. Many people won’t actively ignore someone, because it isn’t clear what will happen if they select Ignore. They fear insulting the person who is making the request, even though this isn’t a person they would consider connecting with. Facebook’s interface offers some good options, but they fall short in setting expectations for the user when the actions are selected (Figures 14-24 and 14-25): • Does the requestor get a message that he is being ignored? If the requestor isn’t noti- fied, then the action is the same as no action. • Does Ignore block this person from requesting a connection again? Or is that what happens with the Block link? Figure 14-24. Facebook offers Ignore as an equal option to Confirm, but doesn’t tell you what happens if you click the button. Figure 14-25. Once the Ignore button is clicked, a confirmation of that action is presented, but it still doesn’t say what happens with that action. Clearly set expectations for the user about the implications for each action. Add rollover messages to inform the user of the consequences of these actions. Without setting clear expectations, you are wasting your design and development effort, building a feature that users will be too scared to use for fear of negative social implications. Why Allowing users to connect to one another encourages conversations and sharing among networks of people, resulting in viral growth of the site. People want to do things with their friends or with others who have similar interests, and allowing them to connect strengthens these ties. Related patterns “Find People” on page 355 “Unfriending” on page 373 aRelationships 369 As seen on Twitter ( Facebook ( Flickr ( ( LinkedIn ( Circles of Connections What A user wants to indicate nuances in her relationships with other people. (See Figure 14-26.) Figure 14-26. Plaxo has six levels of connections built in and also allows users to add their own levels. Use when • Use to distinguish levels of participation in a person’s network. • Use to set permissions for shared activity and content. • Use to disambiguate real-life versus online and strong versus weak ties. • Use to help users filter which content to consume. a 370 Chapter 14: One of Us, One of Us How • Depending on the context of your user experience, levels of granularity in describing connections may or may not be important. • Consider allowing users to classify their connections along a continuum of influence or intimacy. • Clearly articulate what the implications are for each level of classification (Figure 14-27). Figure 14-27. Flickr allows connections to be categorized as friends, family, friends and family, or contacts. When images are uploaded, visibility can be constrained based on the relationship indicated. • Don’t add too many levels, or you risk confusing users about what each level permits. Users need to be able to easily separate what each level allows and how their actions and content will be consumed based on those levels. Why Real-life relationships are complex, and context often changes how two people might in- teract. Online representations of relationships need to be presented in as simple a format as possible to aid in understanding and usability. Providing mechanisms for users to create relationship groups avoids awkward social situ- ations and puts the user in control of how his actions and data are consumed. Related patterns “Adding Friends” on page 361 “Blocking” on page 374 aRelationships 371 As seen on Flickr ( Plaxo ( Publicize Relationships What To promote virality, the system announces, or publicizes, relationships between people (Figure 14-28). Figure 14-28. Facebook shows a user how many friends are shared when viewing someone else’s profile, in addition to showing how many friends that person has. Only a handful is featured at a time, and friends rotate on page refresh. Use when • Use to announce new connections to people in shared networks. • Use to show profile visitors who the person is connected to. a 372 Chapter 14: One of Us, One of Us • Use to promote connecting by sharing new connections and enticing users to make them as well. How • As discussed in “Adding Friends” on page 361, consider publicly showing the group of people a user is connected with (Figure 14-29). Figure 14-29. Flickr indicates a person’s connections with a contacts grid. Each picture and name is linked to that user’s photo stream. Rolling over the picture brings up a contextual menu that allows the viewer to make that person a contact right there, inline. • Showing connections in a grid format of avatars is a space-saving way to publicize a person’s relationships. • When a new connection is made, consider announcing the new connection to each person’s network via the activity stream (Figures 14-30 and 14-31). Figure 14-30. Facebook shows recent connections in the News Feed. Additionally, it shares how the two people connected if it was through one of the friend-finding tools. Figure 14-31. Plaxo shows a contact’s recent connections in my activity stream and offers me the option of connecting to the same person. • When visiting a person’s profile, display to the user whether or not she is connected (see “Profile” on page 86). a

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