Both in Twitter and Friendfeed (and probably an awful lot of other
applications) there is a design flaw regarding users protecting their
updates. As you might know you can only read updates of users that
protect their updates after they gave you permission for it.
However if you do not protect you updates (and give it a thought, why
would you want to protect your updates, or are you talking about homeland
security? Then you should not use these tools at all), the users that protect
their updates are free to add you to follow you. However if you want to
follow them back, you have to do a request…
technical decision why you have to do a request: the user protected his
to see them, he has to approve you. However it does not feel
right and it feels morally wrong to me, also there is an inequality
created in the relationship of the users . Especially since if you want
to get to know that person, or if you want to know what subjects
this person is talking/ tweeting about, you first have to request and
then you can decide whether if you want to follow back or would rather
like to block this person since his content is objectionable.
correct design for these kind of systems should be that if an user that
protects his updates starts following somebody, he automatically grants
that person access to his updates. With this method you create
transparency between follower and followed one, and also you create an
equal starting position for both parties. They both can see what
the other one is talking about and decide whether the relation that is started
by the one is worth to be mutual or should be ended as soon as possible.
Why would you want to keep your updates protected for a person if you follow
It would be like wearing a ski mask: the person wearing the mask can see
you, and even follow you around, while you have no clue who that person is,
and why you are so interesting to him. You won’t even have the opportunity
to ask him!
So: if you would like to follow someone, take of your mask, or let the
network do it for you.