The Opposite Facebook [INTERVIEW]

Think about Facebook for a second…

Reversed Facebook logo

The opposite Facebook logo

Facebook connects you with those you meet, and want to stay in touch with: Your best friends, acquaintances, and friends of your friends. With Facebook you can follow them in their lives, and stumble upon links and videos from people with similar interests as yours. In a conversation with UC Berkeley professor Julie Shackford-Bradley the idea of an opposite Facebook came up. The opposite Facebook would connect you with exactly the people you would never meet. You would get a glimpse of the lives of those most foreign to you as opposed to those more like you.

Picture of Julie Shackford-Bradley in her office at Berkeley

Julie Shackford-Bradley in her office at UC Berkeley, October 2012. The blue and green fabric in the back is from a trip to Uganda where she does research.

If you did some research on the demographic of my Facebook friends I bet you would find an overwhelming amount of people just like me: probably mostly young students.

I know for a fact that there are many countries in the world from which I have no Facebook friends. Embarrassingly enough there are countries in the world that I have never seen pictures from. It may sound trivial, but I am not sure if I know what kind of links my local shopkeeper shares with his friends, and even less what stories or pictures are trending right now in Timbuktu.

I wonder if there is something like this out there?

What if you had a reverse or a shuffle button on your Facebook newsfeed, that would put you in another person’s shoes: someone completely different from you: you would literally be seing that person’s newsfeed. Facebook knows so much about us, perhaps it is time they use this knowledge for good as opposed to just for targeted advertisements. There are of course practical concerns, as always, as well as a more specific privacy concerns. However, it is interesting to stop and think about what social consequences this idea might have.

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One comment

  1. Is this opposite Facebook an idea that you and Professor Shackford-Bradley came up with together? Sounds cool!

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