Since I made that entry, I got over my initial whine that people at LiveJournal, Inc. are too well versed in messing with us. Really, why would the company spend its money and resources implementing code changes for services that are not needed, or even worse, harmful to its users? Are these people that dumb or evil? I could hardly believe that when I thought about it more rationally.
The world of internet is a precarious place, I've learned. More often than not, all it took was an accusing finger and a catch-phrase for a chorus of voices to join in. Protection of privacy is a serious issue. Like many others, I easily get antsy and riled up when I think my right is in danger of being violated. But do I really know what's going on here? Or am I echoing other people's opinion without knowing the facts? When I thought in that term, I realized I had only a cursory idea on how crosspost and pingback works. The good thing is, it's not hard to find out. Since I have two separate LJ user accounts and a sporadically used FB account, with a little time and effort, I can see for myself how these two services work by conducting a series of experiments.
To help make the more important findings stand out, I used green text to describe what I find satisfactory, and red text for those I think we should tread with caution.
Experiment #1: crosspost an entry on FB
Good news, when I linked my LJ to my FB, I can not select to crosspost a flocked or private entry to my FB. The "Repost to" checkbox is now only enabled if the entry I'm posting at LJ is set to Public. I even test-selected the "Publish my entries to Facebook by default" checkbox at the Account setting, the flocked entry DID NOT get publish on my FB.
So then I logged on my "secret" double identity kr8zykat to further investigate. Once again, I connected that LJ with my FB.
Here's a caveat: when I clicked the Facebook Login button as kr8zykat, since I've already logged on my FB in the same web browser, even though I closed the FB page, I never logged off; thus my kr8zykat LJ was right away connected to that FB account, which in this case happened to be mine. However imagine if you share a computer, say with your spouse or child, and one of them logged on their FB, but forgot to log off before closing the page. You would be connected to that FB instead of yours as intended. So, take a moment to make sure which FB you are connected to. The name of the linked FB account is listed under the Facebook Connection section of the Account setting.
Here I am, connected kr8zykat to my FB. My intent is to crosspost a public entry. But wait, my kr8zykat was set to FO by default. Previously, I could manually change the security setting on the fly if I want to make a public entry. Now, that option is no longer available. To post a public entry on the FO journal, I had to temporarily change the privacy setting of the journal to "Public" first. Very annoying. Anyway, I changed "Show this entry to" to Public, and selected the "Repost to Facebook" option. I named the entry "Where in the World is Waldo"; typed up some text, even thrown in an LJ cut and put three pictures under the cut; hit the Post button. Viola!
I opened my FB; lo and behold, there's a new post on my Wall:
I crossed out my FB name in the above picture. Yes, the FB name is now being used here instead of the LJ username. The title of the entry shows up as a link to the LJ. The LJ cut was ignored, and a segment of the text showed up, along with the thumbnail of the first picture I posted. I went back to kr8zykat LJ and reset the entry to FO. That ensured only self and flist members have access to the entry when the title link is clicked. Trust me, when I'm not logged in as either xwacky or kr8zykat, the link took me to Frank the Goat instead telling me he denies me access.
Experiment #2: crosspost a comment to an entry on FB
To test this, I linked my journal here with my FB again, and went to make a comment on my doppelganger kr8zykat's entry. I went back to the "Where in the World is Waldo" post, but wait, that entry is now flocked. I found out that I cannot select the "Repost to Facebook" option when the entry I'm commenting on is flocked. AWESOME!
Still I want to find out how a comment from LJ would appear on FB, so I switched identity and changed the security setting of kr8zykat's entry to public once again. A side-note here: when I edit an entry, even though my journal privacy default is set to FO, I can still change the entry to have it shown to Public -- thus making editing an entry behave differently from posting an entry as I mentioned earlier.
I logged back in as xwacky, and left a comment at kr8zykat's now public entry. Pulled up my FB page, and this is what's been added to my wall:
Once again, it's my FB name instead of the LJ username (xwacky) being used here, and I crossed it out in the picture. Since I did not give the comment a title, the comment itself is shown as a link back to the comment thread. The thumbnail picture shown here is the icon I used posting the comment. No text from the entry I'm commenting on appeared on FB wall; however, click on the link here takes me back to kr8zykat's entry. Later on, I changed the entry's security setting to Private. Then the link only works if I'm logged in LJ as kr8zykat, or else I'm greeted by Frank again.
Experiment #3: crosspost a comment to another comment on FB
I know I cannot crosspost a comment to a flocked entry on FB, but can I crosspost a comment to another comment left in a flocked entry on FB? To test this, I logged in LJ as kr8zykat again, and tried to reply the comment I left there as xwacky earlier. Sure enough, I found out I could select the "Repost to Facebook" option when replying another comment left in a flocked entry. I left a comment, this time gave it a title as "Wave to Self". This is what I see on FB:
I'm relieved that only partial text from my comment (~195 letters with space), and nothing from the parent threads showed up on the FB wall. Of course, clicking the title link there redirects me to the LJ comment, but unless I'm logged in as kr8zykat, Frank would show up again denying my access.
My conclusion on crossposting:
Based on these tests, I'm inclined to think crossposting is not as invasive as many believed it to be. It may even be useful to someone whose journal contents are not homogeneously about fandom(s). What I've discovered from these testings showed that a user can only crosspost contents that are his/her own and no one else's. I'm more than satisfied that what I post on LJ would not show up on my FB unless I wanted it to be. I'm reasonably convinced that if my public and/or flocked entries are somehow linked at someone else's FB, unless that person and any of his/her FB friends are also on my flist here, they would neither know who I am in RL, nor be able to access my flocked entries. By the way, here's a side note in regard to FB: I know all too well of wanting to limit what gets published over there, because OMG! my boss and some coworkers are on there too, and I couldn't deny their Friends Requests. Thank goodness these days, I'm able to set my FB account privacy to exclude anybody I choose from seeing my updates by default. After I did that, I felt much less intimidating publishing stuff on FB.
One last thing I want to say about crossposting here: in the past days, I've seen people searching different ways to get rid of the options all together. By far, the most widely suggested method I encountered is adding the following CSS code at the layout customization section of the account setting (only paid member has that option):
I ought to point out that this is not a perfect solution. I noticed it worked on most journals, but not all. Some journals use very unique CSS stylesheets for their layout that the above code simply has no effect. Even for those journals that it does work, all the code does is not displaying the "Repost to" checkboxes when the customized stylesheet is loaded. Great, you drop the code in your setting, you are making sure whoever commenting on your journal cannot crosspost the comment on his/her FB. However consider this: what if that person chooses to view your journal in his/her own style? Yap, those checkboxes would still be there if his/her layout style does not hide the repost options.
Experiment #4: Pingback Service
Now, let's test the pingback service LJ re-implemented at the same time they integrated the crossposting. To start off, I set both my LJ's to enable the service. Then I made a public post at kr8zykat's journal that contains a link to xwacky's public entry. Within 5 minutes I got a screened comment from pingback_bot notifying me my entry is linked. When I unscreened the comment (I don't have to, but I did so to complete the experiment), this was added to the entry's comment page:
Notice the comment here shows a part of kr8zykat's post up to where the link text appears (i.e. "[...]See here[...]"). So far so good. But what if the link is made in flocked entries? I tested that, and 24 hours later, I'm reasonably sure that if the entry that contains the link is flocked, no notification is sent.
Now, what if the link is made in comments instead? I left comments containing the same link in public, flocked, and private entries at kr8zykat. Twenty-four hours later, I never got any pingback notifications from links appeared in comments--public, flocked, or private.
Next, I want to see if kr8zykat disabled the pingback service, would xwacky still get pingback notification when kr8zykat links a public entry. I found out that in this case, xwacky received notifications when the link occurred in kr8zykat's the public entry (see here), but not the flocked one. Phew!
Lastly, what happens when a flocked entry is linked? To test this, I made a public entry at xwacky this time that contains a link to a flocked post at kr8zykat. Again, 24 hours later, I still haven't received a notification of the flocked entry being linked. Eventually I changed the testing public entry at xwacky to private so I don't spam my flist.
Pingback in a nutshell:
I think the service is quite useful, and it's doing what it claimes to do, which is:
Pingback helps LiveJournal users know who is linking to their public entries... Please note that pingbacks only work for public entries. Friends-Only or Private entries cannot receive pingbacks.Based on my testings here, I'm not convinced there's any rights to privacy being compromised at this point. If there were flocked content being displayed in pingback notifications before, it seemed the people at LJ fixed it yesterday. I'm not in a position to suggest what an individual user should do, but I went ahead and re-enabled the pingback service for myself (by default it was turned on unless you specifically disabled it in your Account setting as I did 2 days ago).
What about the mishandled tags?
Here's an update on the "/" tags: I tested it yesterday morning, instead of Frank the Goat telling me he couldn't handle the slashes, LJ pulled up all the entries tagged with the tag I requested that contains "/". Yay! The tags are working properly once again! To respect others' privacy, I'm not gonna provide an example here because I don't have any slashed tags at my journal; but if you are like me, and involved in at least one fandom, I'm sure you can find a ship somewhere on LJ where people tagged it with a slash. *g*