By John Gruber
Infolio — No-nonsense task management and team collaboration
Dave Winer, “Why I Can’t/Won’t Point to Facebook Blog Posts”:
1. It’s impractical. I don’t know what your privacy settings are. So if I point to your post, it’s possible a lot of people might not be able to read it, and thus will bring the grief to me, not you, because they have no idea who you are or what you wrote.
2. It’s supporting their downgrading and killing the web. Your post sucks because it doesn’t contain links, styling, and you can’t enclose a podcast if you want. The more people post there, the more the web dies. I’m sorry no matter how good your idea is fuck you I won’t help you and Facebook kill the open web.
I’ve made exceptions a handful of times over the years, but as a general rule I refuse to link to anything on Facebook either, for the same reasons as Dave. Last week I linked to screenshots of a Facebook post to avoid linking to the original. The original post by Marc Haynes was public, which I know because I do not have a Facebook account, but here’s what it looks like for me without being a Facebook user — a full one-third of my window is covered by a pop-over trying to get me to sign in or sign up for Facebook. I will go out of my way to avoid linking to websites that are hostile to users with pop-overs. (For example, I’ve largely stopped linking to anything from Wired, because they have such an aggressive anti-ad-block detection scheme. Fuck them.)
You might think it’s hyperbole for Winer to say that Facebook is trying to kill the open web. But they are. I complain about Google AMP, but AMP is just a dangerous step toward a Google-owned walled garden — Facebook is designed from the ground up as an all-out attack on the open web. Marc Haynes’s Facebook post about Roger Moore is viewable by anyone, but:
It is not accessible to search engines. Search for “Marc Haynes Roger Moore” on any major search engine — DuckDuckGo, Google, Bing — and you will get hundreds of results. The story went viral, deservedly. But not only is the top result not Haynes’s original post on Facebook, his post doesn’t show up anywhere in the results because Facebook forbids search engines from indexing Facebook posts. Content that isn’t indexable by search engines is not part of the open web. (Even if I wanted to link to Haynes’s original post, how was I supposed to find it? I wound up with the original post URL via a Facebook-using friend who knows I prefer to link to original posts as a general rule.) The only way to find Facebook posts is through Facebook.
Winer’s third reason:
3. Facebook might go out of business. I like to point to things that last. Facebook seems solid now, but they could go away or retire the service you posted on. Deprecate the links. Who knows. You might not even mind, but I do. I like my archives to last as long as possible.
Facebook going out of business seems unlikely. But Facebook pulling a Vader and altering the deal, blocking public access in the future to a post that today is publicly visible? It wouldn’t surprise me if it happened tomorrow. And in the same way they block indexing by search engines, Facebook forbids The Internet Archive from saving copies of posts.
The Internet Archive is our only good defense against broken links. Blocking them from indexing Facebook content is a huge “fuck you” to anyone who cares about the longevity of the stuff they link to.
Treat Facebook as the private walled garden that it is. If you want something to be publicly accessible, post it to a real blog on any platform that embraces the real web, the open one.