Facebook me anything?
The social networking site is slowly rolling out a feature that will allow users with official Facebook pages the ability to respond to individual comments. Some personalities, including Diane Sawyer and Arianna Huffington, have already used the feature to host live question-and-answer sessions.
While the move may appear groundbreaking, many people will almost immediately recognize it as Facebook's latest attempt to become the entire Internet. This time, instead of trying to co-opt features from Google or Twitter, it's trying to become Reddit—specifically, the social news site's popular Ask Me Anything subreddit, which hosts dozens of live Q&A sessions each day.
On Facebook, comments won't be chronological. Rather, other users will be able to mark them as spam or "like" them, the latter of which will result in a higher visibility of the comment. It's much like Reddit's upvote/downvote system: Popular answers go higher, unpopular ones get hidden or buried at the bottom of the post.
If the comments section of "Improving Conversations on Facebook With Replies," Facebook's official announcement, is to be believed, some owners of official pages aren't happy.
"The priority thing needs to go away (at least until they make this feature mobile friendly). The pages I visit are all jumbled, as mobile phones don't have reply and then their comments are out of order from the rest of the post," user Rhi Gibson wrote.
"is there an option to turn this new "reply" feature off??????" user Gregory Myers asked.
"you are forgetting conversations are organic. you can't decide which sub-conversations to group within a larger commentary thread," user Julie Neskey Cristal commented.
Whatever strategies it may have in place to operate the new feature, Facebook lacks one significant aspect: a three-year history.
Since its 2009 debut, Reddit's AMA subreddit has gradually grown in popularity and have become one of the site's best-known default forums. Average Joe redditors with interesting life stories ("IAMA man who had a sexual relationship with his mother") have joined renowned entertainment, sports, and political figures (Obama, Snoop Lion) to create a community of close to 3 million subscribers.
The maintenance of a subreddit this size has required the constant attention of a 19-member-strong moderator team. Thanks to the efforts of not only mods and admins but also dedicated AMA subscribers who are familiar with the format, AMA hosts are able to focus entirely on answering questions and building discussion.
Facebook's new comment reply feature, on the other hand, will leave all moderating duties up to whoever's answering questions. Is the average Facebook Page holder prepared to deal with such a responsibility? How about the average celebrity?
We'll find out July 10, when the feature goes universal.