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Programming Social Applications by Jonathan LeBlanc

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Passive Sharing

In contrast to direct sharing, passive sharing is the process of pushing out activities on a user’s behalf without his direct knowledge that the activity is being posted. We see this in action in social applications like Foursquare or Gowalla, which automatically post out locations where the user has checked in. The user is aware that he has granted such applications permission to push activities on his behalf, but he is not involved in the process of actually pushing out each individual activity.

This method of sharing has its benefits and drawbacks. A user has technically allowed your application permission to push out activities on his behalf, so that gives you the freedom to define how you’ll actually use that permission. The main benefit here is that, unlike with the direct sharing method, you can guarantee that certain user actions will produce certain activities. This allows you to increase the number of activities posted from your application in the hopes of reaching a much larger audience.

The main drawback to this method is the same as the benefit: numerous activities can be posted out on the user’s behalf without him actually being involved in or aware of the process. There are a couple of key negatives here:

  • A user has a prearranged trust relationship set up with your application, whereby the application may access his social profile and do things on his behalf. Abusing that trust relationship by posting numerous activities can result in the user hiding ...

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