Facebook is trying out a new feature called “Things in Common” with a small batch of users, and it could be a game-changer if it’s rolled out to everyone. The feature shows up in the comments section of a post. So if you’re reading comments on someone’s post about a dog, your friends could be commenting on how cute the dog is, but you might also see some strangers sharing their thoughts on the dog too. With the new feature, however, if you and the stranger have something in common, that information is highlighted above the comment. The data for “Things in Common” is pulled from public material on your profile. For example, it could be that you and the stranger attended the same university, are part of the same Facebook group, or that you’re from the same city.
It’s hard to know how the general public would respond to a new feature like this. Facebook said the following, according to Engadget.
“Knowing shared things in common helps people connect. We’re testing adding a ‘things in common’ label that will appear above comments from people who you’re not friends with but you might have something in common with. Only information that people made publicly available on their profiles will be eligible to show up.”
So it sounds like the idea is to help people make more Facebook friends, but it’s interesting to think that strangers would be so compelled to friend others solely based on the fact that they both are from New York City, for example.
On the other hand, some question whether someone’s personal details should be highlighted when Facebook can be a platform for heated debate about politics and other controversial subjects. It gets murky, however, since Facebook pointed out that the information that would be displayed is only pulled from data that you currently allow the general public to access. It’s just that the new feature would highlight things in common, and it wouldn’t require someone to click on a profile to discover someone’s personal details.
While the feature could be highly controversial if it’s rolled out, it’s hard to know right now if it will end in the experimental stages or not. If the new feature is implemented, however, people hope that there would be an easy way to control what personal details would be allowed to be used. However, the Sun expects that in order to maintain any privacy with the new feature, that you would have to make all of your profile information private. Not just to strangers, but also for your friends.