Facebook Now Allows Following By Default

Until now, whenever a Facebook user received a friend request they had the choice to ‘Confirm’ or simply ‘Ignore’ the request. The ‘Ignore’ button might soon be quietly replaced by a ‘Not Now’ button, whose default set of permissions is surprising.

In the earlier system, a person was either granted or denied the request for friendship. If denied, the user could keep re-sending a friend request until the recipient clicked to indicate “I do not know this person”.

Inside Facebook reports that the new ‘Not Now’ button keeps potential friends in limbo, as they have neither been confirmed nor ignored by the user. These pending friends cannot keep re-sending their request. However, with this new system, these unconfirmed friends can see all the public updates from the user whom they have added as a friend, until such time as the user actually rejects them.

Facebook's "Not Now" button
Facebook’s “Not Now” button

The process of rejection or blocking, which used to be a simple one-click affair, has become a bit more difficult.

Now, when a user wants to reject a person’s request to be added as a friend, the user first has to click on ‘Not Now’. The user then sees an alert asking whether he knows that person or not. If the user answers “no”, then that person is blocked from receiving the public posts of the user and also from re-requesting friendship.

On the other hand, if a user does not actually block a particular request, he has to go to the ‘Requests’ page, which is hidden in the Friends -> Find Friends section. Within the Requests page, the user can go through the list of pending friends and rejecting the requests they don’t wish to grant.

Since it is quite safe to assume that most users will not go to so much trouble to reject a request, the users who have been placed in ‘Not Now’ limbo will continue to see the user’s public posts. The follow feature will thus become a de-facto for many.

In the past, Facebook has faced protests from users due to the introduction of similar features, when they first started the News Feed. Facebook says that they have inttroduced this new system to prevent persistent people from repeatedly making friendship requests with the same users. However, that problem could have been solved by making the option to permanently block requests from certain users more obvious.

It would not be very surprising if users resort to a protest against this update too.

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