Monday, May 24, 2010

And Facebook Blinked

It's all over the news today, Mark Zuckerberg, the now complete defensive Founder of Facebook wrote an article in the Washington Post today. His article expressed his desire to keep the user experience a wonderful thing on facebook.
Six years ago, we built Facebook around a few simple ideas. People want to share and stay connected with their friends and the people around them. If we give people control over what they share, they will want to share more. If people share more, the world will become more open and connected. And a world that's more open and connected is a better world. These are still our core principles today

To him, its all about people connecting and sharing their lives with their friends and reconnecting with family and friends. In all, laudable.

The complaints, the fact that the service lost some very high profile individuals has struck a nerve, plus the online unrest that was both mounted and I suspect growing, caused Mark to look again at his creation.

He has decided one of the issues was privacy and that there is a need to simply the privacy settings on Facebook:
We have heard the feedback. There needs to be a simpler way to control your information. In the coming weeks, we will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use. We will also give you an easy way to turn off all third-party services. We are working hard to make these changes available as soon as possible. We hope you'll be pleased with the result of our work and, as always, we'll be eager to get your feedback.

Of course the mea culpea has been met with some skepticism. Rob Pegoraro has some serious questions about the sincerity of the apology and whether or not this is truly a change of heart for the company.

If I can go back to the Zuckerberg article, he declares or articulates the guiding principles of Facebook:
Here are the principles under which Facebook operates:

-- You have control over how your information is shared.

-- We do not share your personal information with people or services you don't want.

-- We do not give advertisers access to your personal information.

-- We do not and never will sell any of your information to anyone.

-- We will always keep Facebook a free service for everyone.

So is this all a good thing, or will it just be some window dressing and the company will continue to act as it will to make itself profitable.

I think the bellwether will be the privacy settings, if they are simple to understand, find and change then it will be a positive sign. If there is more smoke and mirrors then the apology will have meant nothing.

Some people complain how Facebook changes everything. I suppose the company has the right to do what it does, after all, no company talks to me when they want to make a change, why should Facebook be different. I think the reason is clear, Facebook is different, we are not simply the consumer, we are the creators. Facebook exists and is able to thrive because we who use it provide the material that makes it a success. Every photograph, video, update makes us not simply the consumer but the stakeholder of the company. It exists because we use it. If anything this uprise makes it clear and it should inform the company that it can't mess with the stakeholders.

There's a few things as well, Facebook should not see the material uploaded as "their's", it isn't. Forget the legal mumbo-jumbo, its not Facebook, it belongs to the person who uploaded. Again, don't mess with the stakeholders. Should a person leave, everything gets wiped out. The material uploaded, photographs, videos and messages should all disappear.

Just a couple of more things:
The Register is reporting some more video smutware coming along. If you see the words 'distracting' 'beach' 'babes', don't click.

Take control of your privacy settings on Facebook. You have that right.

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