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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Facebook Sans Privacy Flaps

No doubt you have been reading about the so called "Facebook Privacy Issue"
So here is a post from Larry Dignon on ZDNet.

Our Take: Facebook is about sharing information. If you don't want your mother to see it, then don't post it!
Of course, for most business users the sharing aspect is why they are there in the first place which makes all of this a non issue. (That is not to say that we don't support Internet Privacy!)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook’s new privacy settings, which are designed to be more simple and user friendly, and the talk was quite the balancing act. If successful, Facebook will manage to do something it hasn’t been able to yet: Put product development and its privacy policy into their respective corners.
Until today, a new feature from Facebook would require a set response from me as a user. If there was a new feature, I’d need to check my privacy settings. If Facebook gets these privacy changes right I won’t have to sweat a new feature because my settings will carry forward.
The key points from the Facebook press conference:
  • Zuckerberg said the company’s changes were a reflection that Facebook listens.
  • However, he noted that a lot of the privacy hubbub was overblown based on user data—the News Feed feature caused a much larger backlash. In fact, more people were worried about Facebook charging money than privacy.
  • But Zuckerberg said Facebook’s privacy changes were designed to put the flap to bed for a while. Settings today will apply to new features in the future.
  • “We’re really going to try not to have another backlash,” said Zuckerberg.
Add it up and you have a Facebook move that aims to separate privacy settings and policy changes from new features in the future, including a location service that’s still being cooked up.
“Facebook is not a solved problem, there’s so much more we have to do,” said Zuckerberg, who sounded almost like a politician at times. That pol approach is almost understandable given the vast gray area that is Facebook.
Overall, Facebook’s move to solidify and simplify its privacy settings makes a lot of sense. Here’s the cycle Facebook’s product development is currently in:
  • Facebook launches new feature;
  • Alters is 5,000 word plus privacy policy;
  • Users get confused and angry;
  • Backlash ensues;
  • Zuckerberg listens, backtracks a bit, tells you everyone wants to share and then gives you more settings.
It’s quite tiring eh? But that’s Facebook’s legacy. It started out as a mostly private site that opened up the user data spigot. If Facebook’s default was always open you wouldn’t have these privacy skirmishes. That’s why Facebook’s move Wednesday—if successful—is critical. The company has to get off the privacy-flap-go-round for its own sanity as well as its users’.

1 comment:

  1. Zuckerberg’s talk was interesting. On the one hand, he was saying that Facebook cared about the trust issues. On the other side, Zuckerberg made no apologies about pushing the privacy envelope. His talk is ongoing and there are other nuggets of information on Facebook’s developer blog and CNet News’ live coverage.

    None of these privacy changes are default. In a nutshell, Facebook is promising the following:

    * One simple control that sets privacy to friends, everyone or friends of friends;
    * The control applies to all content;
    * And the control plays to every new Facebook feature going forward