The Guardian Monster

London Underground roundel logo
Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

Oh the Guardian, that normally well-regarded major UK newspaper, has had a ****ing brilliant idea. You see, if you read a story in the online version of the paper, you can share it on Facebook using their app.

Actually if you are logged into Facebook – even in another browser window you’ve forgotten is still open – it automatically posts the article you’re reading. It does say when you install it that the app will share what you read, but I don’t think the casual user will immediately realise this means “without even asking”. I certainly bloody didn’t.

So at long last, the Guardian has managed to fully automate the process of having someone reading over your shoulder. In this way online readers all over the world can partake of the authentic crowded London tube experience.

But that’s not even the worst part. The link it posts doesn’t actually go to the article, it – yes – offers to install the app. So you accept because you want to read the story. All your friends will then see what you’ve read and install the app so they can read it, which will tell all their friends what they’ve read… This thing is going to spread exactly like a virus.

Indeed the figures seem to be bearing that out. Two weeks ago, after being out only a month, they had their millionth install. At that rate we have about one week left to enjoy Facebook before it collapses under the sheer weight of Guardian links.

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3 thoughts on “The Guardian Monster

  1. I’m surprised that FaceBook doesn’t pull the API-key of the Guardian for spamming! Mind you, _all_ Facebook apps can (and might be doing this) with EVERY webpage that has a Facebook button, but then without posting about it. Facebook simply tracks which pages on the web you visit. This is the scary privacy monster that is Facebook. And why it’s such a comptitor for Google and why Google wants you to Plus.

    Google has to rely on stuff like its own cookies and analytics scripts. Facebook knows who you are, you’ve told them. And you’re telling them every single step you take on pages that have “like” buttons or use Facebook connect.

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  2. I’ve noticed that every time I saw a link to a Guardian story I might like to read on Facebook, it just took me to the app install page. I knew I didn’t want *yet another* app, so I turned it down. I discovered that if I copied the link, opened a new tab, and pasted it, I could get to the story and bypass the app install.

    I just saw the same thing from a story on Yahoo a friend shared yesterday. Copying the link didn’t work, so I just typed the key terms into google news and read about it somewhere else. No way am I installing these things if I can possibly keep up with avoiding them.

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