My thoughts on Facebook privacy issue

facebook_ghost

These last couple of days, I feel like I've been bombarded with editorial content pressuring people on becoming a Ghost user, deactivating and even quitting Facebook altogether.

The general concern seem to be at 2 levels: firstly, privacy settings on facebook is getting complicated, leaving most people in the dark. Combined with the fact that the default value is so open to the public, most people don't know anymore what they're sharing publicly.

Secondly, there's a growing privacy concern about the fact that Facebook is starting to share its data through the OpenGraph API and also partnership like Pandora and Docs.

I heart knobs

I actually thought the granular privacy settings was awesome, and left wanting more. Being able to set up what you want to share per person, list, network, is like an IT admin way of configuring role/group based authorization and permissions. These are the thing that us as developers have to deal day in day out: data normalization, categorization, tagging and how we use it.

Imagine having the control of configuring to share my private statuses with the people I care about, my ’˜Family' list and ’˜Close Friends' list, unless if these people are also listed under ’˜Work'.

I love having the ability to configure to share photos from work to everyone, including people from the office's network.

I love it and I want more control!

image don't know about you, but I actually like having all these knobs to tweak!

OpenGraph and sharing Social Data

The same applies to the OpenGraph initiative and FB's vision on sharing social data. I agree with FB's vision to leverage all my investment on Facebook. I've added people that I know personally, curated the ones that I know online, tag, categorize them into lists, and set up shares and permissions around them. Not a small investment to make!

Applications like Foursquare should stick to location based services, Flickr should stick to organizing photos. These apps should leverage all my lists, my behaviors, my likes to create a better experience for me.

What I care though is control and ownership. I want to be clear what I'm sharing with each one of these services. I want to also make sure that I own these data and can choose to opt out if I no longer feel comfortable for one reason or the other. This is something that Facebook doesn't do well (at least’¦yet).

image

My My profile preview as seen by Dad 
I want this kind of preview with data shared with other sites

Facebook still need to listen ..

I won't quit Facebook, but I still wish Facebook would listen the outcry.

I appreciate the fact that not everyone has an IT flare in them. Try to do a search on YourOpenBook.org ‘skipping work’ and you will know what I mean. Facebook need to cater to these people. They're (probably ) the majority of FB users.

imageYourOpenBook.org proposal how privacy settings should be. 

I want Facebook to be simple to most users, and continue on providing the high degree of controls for the likes of me.

However, Facebook need to always put the casual users interest at best, because some of these people are the reason to why I use facebook in the first place.

  1. Firman Nugraha says:

    I agree that facebook privacy control is quite complicated, I believe it is not intended for use by common people. Well it's kinda like iphone vs android configuration where in iphone it is much simpler but doesn't provide you with much choice and android is the reverse of it. But I see that the newest facebook configuration is much user friendly without sacrificing its configuration depth for expert users. Wether the privacy control of facebook is good or not, IMHO, it won't affect facebook's total user a lot.

  2. ronaldwidha says:

    That was the heart of the criticism I guess. If it wasn't intended to be used by the 'regular' people, fb should've supplied a more restrictive default value. Some ppl thinks that fb is changing the 'gameplay' without telling the 'players'. It started off with 'here you can share everything because it is safe and secure', now suddenly 'you're sharing all these with the world'. A year ago I wrote how facebook will never be Twitter: "Facebook lives based on its exclusivity and to compete with companies like Twitter, they have to let go the base principle that it holds." http://www.ronaldwidha.net/2009/04/10/facebook-vs-twitter-why-facebook-will-never-be-twitter/ and now they did, hence the outcry.