IFTTT and Facebook

:: random, rambling

TLDR: Follow me on Twitter if you want to see me share stuff.

For the last n months, I have been using IFTTT to mirror my Twitter account to my Facebook account. I am going to stop doing this because neither Facebook nor IFTTT support what I need to make this sensible.

I started using IFTTT because, while I maintain a Facebook account and connect with several people exclusively through Facebook, I primarily use Twitter. Twitter is easier to use for me, partly because posts are shorter and I manage my time carefully, and partly because bitlbee gives me an interface that matches my natural environment. Unfortunately, Facebook is not great at the same sorts of things that Twitter is.

Twitter automagically supports links and pictures that you tweet, linking and embedding them as appropriate depending on your client. Twitter supports a much more active stream of thoughts. Twitter makes it absurdly easily to share other peoples’ thoughts with attribution, i.e., retweets. Twitter has course-grained privacy, and the usual workflow for having private and non-private tweets is via multiple accounts, which Twitter clients support.

On the other hand, Facebook requires you to explicitly tell it what to do. If you post a link, but do not claim it is a link, Facebook will merely hyperlink the URL rather than embed the link. Facebook supports longer posts but fewer of them. Facebook seems to encourage sharing your own thoughts. Although it does support sharing, it is not nearly as simple, and is easy to remove to original attribution (presumable for privacy of the original author). Facebook supports fine-grained privacy of individual posts, but this too requires more interaction, i.e., explicitly telling Facebook what to do.

I setup IFTTT to simply mirror my tweets to Facebook, sharing them only with friends. However, I want some tweets to be public, and some to be friend-only. I want links and pictures to be automagically embedded. I want my tweets to appear without attribution, and retweets to appear with attribution. I only want some tweets to be mirrored.

While IFTTT has some support for some of this, for instance, using hashtags to denote which tweets should be thought of as links and the link embedded, it does not support everything that I want. Part of this is on Facebook for not being automagical, but I think this is probably a feature for Facebook since too much automagic is not appealing to many users. I, however, like automagic.

So, I am turning off IFTTT, and my Facebook posts will all but disappear. If you care about my random day-to-day thoughts, follow me on Twitter instead. All my Facebook messages go to bitlbee though, so I am still accessible through that.