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I recently visited a seemingly fairly reputable web site and was astonished to see their implementation of a two-stage trigger for their social media buttons:

2 clickr for mor privacy: only if you click here the buttons will get active and you can use this service.

(The text appears when you hover over any of the switches left of the button.)

I can only assume it's intended to mitigate, say, like hijacking, but it seems to be a complete waste of time: it doesn't matter which interface element you click on, you can still bind the like method to any interface element - namely the enabler switch.

This is not at all like Stack Exchange's up-vote timers (which prevent up-voting comments in quick succession, diluting the value of up-votes). In this case, the value of social sharing is likely markedly decreased since the value comes directly from widespread and easy sharing.

What other possible reason could there be to creating a barrier to sharing your page?

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I would assume this is mostly because of Facebook's slightly creepy "friends who liked this" feature but I'm not familiar with this pattern. I know of several people who wanted to turn that feature off and some even use different browsers for facebook just because of it. –  Ben Brocka Apr 30 '12 at 14:09
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Interesting note, I've started to see these a lot more often just the past month actually. Might have something to do with Twitter admitting they track as well. –  Ben Brocka Jun 4 '12 at 11:25
    
@BenBrocka From a technical standpoint, these buttons seem to leverage asynchronous javascript loading (they simply trigger the asynchronous JS when you enable them). Clever! –  msanford Jun 4 '12 at 15:19
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That has cool implications for load times as well actually. Unfortunately a not-active tweet/ect button doesnt' show you the current share count however. –  Ben Brocka Jun 4 '12 at 15:35
    
@BenBrocka Quite right! Load optimization is precisely why I investigated asynchronous loading to begin with. Constant UX improvement! –  msanford Jun 4 '12 at 15:38

3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

If I remember correctly the reason is because the share button allows tracking of users since it's served from facebook/twitter/gplus. So without you clicking on it they already know you are on the site. A two click control gets rid of the tracking while making a inconvenience for the user.

Heres a description of the issue

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It's an interesting balance of privacy and usability; Facebook and Google+ have made information a bit too free flowing for some people's tastes...the problem is the balancing features between those that want privacy and those that don't care and/or want ease of use –  Ben Brocka Apr 30 '12 at 15:32
    
Ben, that control allows you to bypass the first click (even selectively) in its settings. So if users actually care about liking, tweeting or +1ing everything they can do so, but it's opt-in and privacy-aware users don't get tracked by default. –  Joey Apr 30 '12 at 17:14
    
Apparently Twitter is now tracking (if they weren't before): Twitter is tracking you on the web –  Ben Brocka May 18 '12 at 1:41

There are two reasons for this. One, as the other answers have pointed out, is that by default the social media buttons allow those sites to track when you visit the site, so they know where you go and what you view even if you don't touch the buttons.

But it's sometimes possible to disable this privacy issue without introducing two-step buttons. You can host the button images yourself and sometimes alter the scripting, rather than feeding directly from the social media site. The site chose this method to explain the issue to users. They are reducing the usability to make a point, and to demonstrate their commitment to the user's privacy. They could have fixed the privacy issue silently, but this way users who care about privacy are now aware of the site's stance on privacy.

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I want to learn more about the possibility or feasibility of "changing a bit of JavaScript". Maybe you could link to a document describing this? For example, my current understanding is that Google's +1 button requires JavaScript from a Google server. Twitter's Tweet button can be used without JavaScript, but then the button leads you to a new page, so they suggest you'll likely want to include their JavaScript handler to open the share box on the same page. –  Bavi_H May 1 '12 at 3:19
    
A very good point, making things visible like this raises the issue and gives room for learning. –  Alvin May 2 '12 at 6:29
    
@Bavi_H I apologize, you are correct. Some buttons can have their privacy improved transparently, but others can't without some serious hacking. I had not researched the issue well. –  Myrddin Emrys May 2 '12 at 6:46

That's because like this the websites prevent Facebook tracking you if you don't click on share. Because Facebook tracks your behaviour if you're logged in to Facebook and visit a page that has the Facebook Share Button implemented.

Here is why the Germany Computer Magazine c't explains does it. But that's in German. http://www.heise.de/ct/artikel/2-Klicks-fuer-mehr-Datenschutz-1333879.html. I also think that this form of sharing started actually in Germany because Website who make tracking possible, without you knowing it, can be sued.

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