AOL Lifestream Might Be Totally Awesome

…but I may never know.

Part 1: Shock and Awe

I made a decision to try to just focus on positive things with this blog, but given my previous obsession with Lifestreaming, I can’t help but comment on this.

I read about AOL’s Lifestream earlier today on TechCrunch who, rightfully, said that it might be what Google Buzz should have been. From what Michael Arrington says, it may be all that and more.

The problem is, when I tried to sign in using Facebook Connect (which I would normally say is a great use of social network integration by AOL), I get this:

Whawhawhat? Really? No, really?

I’ve never seen that permission asked for before, and I hope I never see it again. While Facebook may be the Walled Garden with Reinforced Steel and Concrete Walls, I kind of like it that way. I can post stuff that I know only people I’ve friended will see.

Okay, so I could probably get past the fact that their sort of invading my privacy because, yeah, they’re trying to break down the Great Wall of Facebook. And since I’m sure some people will want to share everything everywhere, sure, ask for that permission. There’s that nice “Don’t Allow” button there that solves the problem.

Except… oh wait!

So, I can only use AOL Lifestream with Facebook Connect if I let them share all my Facebook updates with whoever they want. I… I… I can’t bring my self to say it, but it starts with F and rhymes with PALE.

Now, with all the privacy turmoil that Google caused when they launched Buzz, I wonder if AOL Lifestream will be similarly crucified by people who just click on through to the other side without actually paying attention.

Part 2: Rational Continuation

Just so I’m being thorough, let me say that I was able to log in to Lifestream using my AOL IM user name, and it looks like you are allowed to change your settings on a stream-by-stream basis using the options: No One – Private, My Buddies on AIM, Everyone – Public. There’s no way of knowing that when signing in with Facebook Connect, though. I tried adding Facebook again without giving them permission to grab all my updates and was again denied because I hadn’t given them enough permissions. I know for a fact that AOL doesn’t need that permission to connect my accounts because I’ve made a Facebook app that posts to people’s walls and I had never heard of that permission before.

I was able to authorize my Twitter account (since that’s my “public facing” status update app) and that appears to work very well, although, it looks like I can only “Like” my own updates and those from my AIM buddies, but not any tweets imported from my Twitter friends.

But it gets stranger… I decided to keep going, and give Lifestream the permission they so desperately wanted, and it turns out that sharing with Everyone – Public is not an option for the Facebook stream. So, they got it half right, I guess.

The one good thing that does come of this is when there’s a status update that I want to post both to Facebook and Twitter, I can use Lifestream to do it – and if I do it from my iPhone, I can even attach a photo and location information! Of course, after giving Lifestream access to my Foursquare account, it appears that posting to Foursquare with that location information, is not possible. It’s a river that flows into AOL with no salmon to swim the other way.

I’m still wary of leaving the app as it is, though, with all that access to my Facebook stuff, but I did set it to Private – No One, so hopefully that will keep it locked down. Oh, and another lockdown bonus: the iPhone app lets you edit your buddy list, which is good because I still had some buddies left over from when I actually used AIM.

Final Conclusion: iPhone app is good for posting to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously, but in the end, it’s just another social network that I doubt any of my friends will even deign to notice.

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Posted on March 11, 2010, in Diatribes, Facebook, Lifestreaming, Twitter and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on AOL Lifestream Might Be Totally Awesome.

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