Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admits Facebook has made a mistake on their privacy settings which spawned an army of legislators, watchdogs, concerned citizens into pressuring the social networking giant to deploy features that stop this new ecosystem that endangers all of us. The current implementation or non-implementation of Facebook’s privacy settings allowed people to see their friends’ friends’ updates, being able to quickly add people who are remotely connected to you, instant publication of status to the public, publishing of things you “like” to public profile pages. The keywords you use during status update are pushed to public pages, which means if you have something bad to say about your company who happens to have a public page then relationships between the two are broadcasted. On top of this, the privacy settings you set and configured gets lost in limbo the minute your cookies expire and you end up unknowingly publishing to the world about your updates.
I remember when I first joined Facebook a few months after it was launched it had various privacy controls which did not allow me to grow my friends (or not a friend) base as rapidly as I can now. They only allowed email addresses of registered companies or schools, adding users required you to type in information that would help the person determine connection or relation. These controls and privacy settings attracted me to Facebook as I was growing tired of the influx of spammers, marketers, and the commercialization of friendster which I and millions of Filipinos used.
Along the way, Facebook decided to open up its doors to the public using its 500 million users to generate enormous revenues by connecting your updates, and profile status to marketers, product companies, websites like Yelp, Microsoft and Pandora.
Can I hide from my boss who is connected gazillion levels out but at least connected somehow? No. Can I keep my friends list private? No. Can I stop the world even my friends from knowing that I “liked” a singer because it would definitely make me look like a dork? No. I have heard among my colleagues from various companies how Human Resource departments and managers sent out memos to their employees whose status’ updates in Facebook were deemed to be their property for disciplinary actions. My colleagues didn’t know how the hell those people got to their status. The answer – its Facebook at the core. Can’t hide, can’t stay private.
Did Facebook made a mistake on privacy settings? I don’t think so. There is “no way” a team who built a platform amassing 500 million users didn’t realize the repercussions of going berserk on privacy settings without lawmakers, watchdogs, regulation bodies going after them. These people aren’t stupid. In fact, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is damn genius that employing a “Guerilla” approach on privacy settings would allow 500 million users to give up their privacy control unknowingly even before regulators and lawmakers have noticed. By that time privacy controls is too late for the current user base and they already have the ecosystem prime for profit in place.
Facebook is now under development of new privacy controls to appease the growing rage of people including private citizens who have joined at QuitFacebookDay, people who are pledging to delete their account by May 31. My challenge to Facebook on their new privacy controls is not to only give the users better control on their privacy settings but to reset each and all 500 million users to “private” status once released. Status updates should only be shown to friends on the network and not those “just connected” people. Users should manually make themselves public if they want the whole world to see their activities. Simply throwing out a new set of privacy tools in response to people advocating privacy wouldn’t make a difference since the average joe is busy mastering a crop on Farmville while he has no clue that his identity is being used and profited upon by people of various intentions.
If Facebook did make a mistake on their privacy settings, then go and reset everyone to private.
People get absorbed in work and before they realize their current situation…