In the technology press, an entire news cycle can seem to take place during what would be a commercial break on television. Major backlashes form overnight.
Even the mainstream press has caught wind of Spotify’s now-mandatory Facebook log-in, which defaults to sharing everything you listen to on Spotify to your Facebook friends in three ways. If you do nothing, your listening activity appears in three places on Facebook:
- in your friends’ news tickers on the upper right of “their” Facebook;
- in your friends’ Music tabs (under Applications), where Facebook surfaces a running tally of what one’s friends have listened to; and
- in the mostly-unreleased Timeline feature, which purports to chronicle everything that happens in your life, but actually tracks only the relatively-infinitesimal-yet-still-growing slice of life that appears on Facebook.
People freaked out, perhaps as they should have, although most would admit that the ability to share full tracks legally with thousands of friends is basically a good thing. But can’t I listen to DeBarge in peace without my old college radio friends finding out about it?
Instead of letting the winds of gossip fan these flames into a full-blown backlash (the likes of which seems to strike Facebook every few months with no discernable impact on people’s willingness to use it), Spotify responded quickly by announcing that it will roll out a new Private Listening mode.
That version has yet to roll out to me, but the above screenshot (from Spotify) shows that it will appear just above the “Disconnect from Facebook” button, which Evolver.fm confirmed really does stop activity from being shared with Facebook in addition to just Facebook users.
Unlike that Disconnect option, which toggles Facebook sharing off until you toggle it back on, the Private Listening mode stays in effect for just one session, so the next time you fire up Spotify, sharing will be enabled again — another clever move from Spotify, because scrobbling to Facebook is a key part of the equation. If Disconnect were the only option, people would forget to reconnect, and billions of shares would disappear overnight.