If you’ve been utilizing Facebook a lot, you’ve probably noticed a lot of your friends using the compare people application. What is it? Well, it’s an app created by Ivko Maksimovic that allows you to compare two friends on random questions… everything from “who is more tech-savvy” to “who would you rather sleep with”. And tons of my friends have been using it.
The whole app seemed innocent enough. You can opt out of being compared if you’re the sensitive type who doesn’t want to know that you’ve been chosen zero times as “sexier” in a comparison. And the app is anonymous for the voter, unless you choose for it not to be (and you only have the choice to be non anonymous on the tamer questions). From the app description page:
Your friends cannot find out how you compared them except when it’s an innocuous compliment. For example, if someone loses a comparison, they will not know that they lost. If you rate compare someone on a dating question, they won’t know how you chose. There is no way for someone to look at the rank lists and see who said what about them.
In addition to rating your friends, the app keeps a running tally of where you rank in your friends grouping, your network and the “hall of fame” which appears to be all of Facebook. But it would seem that Ivko has chosen to monetize the compare people app sometime in the last few days, when a message appeared at the top of my ranking screen stating: “You qualify: See how you were compared (premium)”. I’m like, what the hell is that?
Well, when you click on the link, you’re told that for ten bucks a year, you can see:
Who should you date?
We crunched the numbers, checked the stars, and came up with your matches
Who are your true friends?
See who has the highest opinion of you
Who are your best references?
See who has the highest professional and academic opinion of you
Your wins and losses
A question by question recounting of exactly who you won and lost to
Um, excuse me? What the fuck happened to the promises of anonymity? Now you’re going to sell my anonymous choices to my friends? I for one don’t like being told one thing and having someone change the rules halfway through. Worse is that you can’t see a terms of service once you’ve already opted into the application.
So, my plan is to uninstall this thing and opt out of being compared at all. But guess what? Upon clicking the “I don’t want to be compared” button, I’m presented with the following information:
Your friends won’t be able to compare you and you will not show up in their rank lists.
Furthermore, you can’t compare others or see their rankings.
Note: If you choose this, you cannot switch back for at least 3 days.
This may take up to six hours to take effect.
This feature is in beta testing – expect problems.
I repeat… what the fuck? My option of privacy is in beta testing? Um, no. There is no way in hell Facebook should be allowing an application to run that utilizes my data that does not allow me to opt out without warning me that I should “expect problems”. I opted out, seemingly without any issues, and then removed the application. Lord knows though if removing the application completely erases my decision to opt out or not (and if it does, it’s complete bullshit).
If you’re using the compare people app because it was cool and fun, you may want to think again. I’d suggest opting out of being compared, deleting the application and reporting it to Facebook (there is a little link to report an app on the right column on the application page) for advertising anonymity and then selling your “not really anonymous” answers to your friends.
Edited to add: follow up post is here.