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What Happens When You Hide Your Facebook Wall?

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On Facebook, do you prefer to compose an email message or to save a few clicks by writing a wall post?

How does your Facebook experience change if you turn the wall settings to private?

Following on my last post about the pros and cons of having a Facebook wall, I did a highly scientific* experiment using my personal account. I would still have the wall, but no one would be allowed to comment on my posts. They could still email me, but they would have to first click on the messages button, find me, compose something, click send, etc.

What happened?

Over a few months, the amount of engagement I had dropped drastically. Very few people bothered to interact with me when the wall disappeared. As such, my interest in my own personal Facebook page diminished. I spent less time on the site.

A few people emailed me to ask why they could no longer use the wall. Of course, I had blocked everyone from accessing the wall, but since it had always been available to them, some people were slightly put off by the change.

Very few people seemed to have the inclination to go out of their way to send private email-style messages via Facebook. My guess is that most of us would rather save a couple clicks of the mouse and have an instant update visible to the masses.

So why, as individual users, do we get so much more feedback via the wall than the Facebook message system?

Is this because wall posts require fewer clicks than email?

Or because most users trust the Facebook community? Are they truly happy for just about anyone to be flies on the Facebook walls of virtual conversation?

Perhaps it’s because we view the wall as a place for lighthearted, trivial banter or simple, quick exchanges.

A sociologist could spend a lifetime researching our social media habits. But the bottom line is that people use the Internet to make life easier, to get information as fast as possible. Anything that gets in the way of that is not likely to last.

But that’s just my take — what do you think?

*Highly scientific = off the cuff