Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Facebook Privacy: More Changes & Controversy (Weigh In!)

In its short life, Facebook has experienced a number of changes to its privacy policy.  You may remember my December post, where I discussed a number of controversial changes being implemented -- perhaps most sigificant at that time:  deeming "publicly available" certain information users once kept private.  As I alluded to in last Thursday's blog post, Facebook is at it again.  This time, Facebook boldly makes its users' interests, "likes," and connections publicly available.

As this PCWorld article points out, Facebook initially gained popularity because of its default privacy restrictions -- when you joined, the default settings generally protected your personal information.  Those were the good ol' days.  As Mr. Tynan says of Facebook today:
The fact is, Facebook has steadily - and quite deliberately - carved away at the privacy protections its service was originally founded upon.  It has essentially created a bait-and-switch scam:  promising one thing but delivering something entirely different.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation offers an enlightening timeline illustrating what it calls Facebook's "eroding privacy policy."  A graphic representation of the changes can be found on Matt McKeon's site.

As Mashable mentions, despite the privacy concerns among users, Facebook's new social plugins have been popping up with increasing frequency across the web.  The plugins let sites add certain Facebook features without making users log in to use them.  For example, readers of my blog can "like" a post by clicking the new button appearing right under the post title.  The plugins were announced less than a month ago, and they already appear on more than 100,000 web sites. 

Facebook claims it's just trying to give users more social and personalized experiences on the web. According to the popular social networking site, its users love the changes and the controversy/criticism comes largely from media and commentators rather than its users.

What do you think?  Are Facebook users really happily opting in to enjoy more social features, or has Facebook duped its users?  Do you think more users will begin dropping Facebook?

1 comment:

  1. Megan,
    Huge fan of your blog, love the information that you give out to us. I like to think people are pretty smart, so I tend to think people enjoy the soical features. Thanks again for the post.