May 7, 2010

facebook privacy

This is a pretty awesome visualization:

The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook

So far I've been able to mostly keep up with the changes and "fix" my settings so this doesn't impact me too much. But I'm not your typical user and I'll bet many older users and most new users don't manage privacy controls as well.

I like a lot of the new capabilities that Facebook is building. I'm still a Facebook user. I know and respect a decent number of people working there.

My concern is this: Facebook isn't simply following the lead of an audience that's decreasingly concerned about privacy, (as I suspect they tell themselves.) What they're doing is actually leading an audience to be less concerned about privacy. There's a pretty big difference there and it's that difference that makes me increasingly uncomfortable with Facebook's direction.

So, if I was sitting down with the top brass at Facebook, what would I say? I think I'd ask them, "Do you think these default settings are ideal for your children and/or your parents?"

I also wonder if you polled a representative sample of Facebook users and asked them to describe what of their Facebook experience was available to their friends, networks, all Facebook users, or the whole internet, how close to the truth would they get?

Privacy is hard. It's hard to get right for everyone involved. But there are some basic pieces of privacy that are not so hard and I think that Facebook could do a lot better by asking themselves and their users these simple questions I've offered above.

update: This just in: Belorussian translation, provided by Patricia. Thanks, Patricia!

Posted by asa at 12:33 PM