Saturday, May 8, 2010

Facebook, Stop Sucking Ass

As pretty much anyone who uses Facebook semi-regularly knows, the site keeps changing its privacy rules. Not only is this confusing and downright maddening, but it's pissing off a helluva lot of people. I track Facebook's moves somewhat closely, and I've been fed up with them for a while. And I'm a very heavy user. I know the ins and outs better than most, and I've been having trouble wading through this recent mess.

I want better ways to complain, I want to be able to have choices, to control what I want, and I want some of the old features back (I won't list them all). Mark Zuckerburg went from being this wunderkind to this reviled, amoral overlord. Facebook is too wound up in my daily existence, my way of life, for me to just zap it out completely--like destroying the Internet!--but Zuckerburg's vision of the future is not compatible with how users want it to be, and he no longer cares about the vast network he's built. He's transforming the Internet with his conceptions of privacy and openness, not understanding that everyone needs and has the right to privacy. Hell, even when Gawker exposed him, he quickly took control and put his stuff behind privacy walls!

So I am very glad that, among many other website, the Times is on this and has compiled a list of questions they will present to Zuckerburg and Facebook to answer. A response should be up in a few days; I eagerly await it. In the meantime, check out this timeline of privacy changes to the site, and please, check and update your privacy controls! Too many people stay ignorant and they ruin it for the rest of us.

Update: Here's an interactive pie chart, using the same data as the EFF.


John said...

I've found that the best way to protect your privacy on facebook is just to remove anything that you don't want to be publicly available (i.e., already sold to advertisers and being used to eliminate you from job application pools.) Soon there will be nothing left in my profile page but, to quote a line from [Title of Show], "two tight paragraphs about kittens that your grandma would be proud of."
Just as ConnectU is able to fill a niche that Facebook abandoned long ago (a social network specifically for college students that revolves around the college experience), hopefully a rival social network will see the money to be made in being the social network that Facebook used to be. Personally, I'd settle for something that combined a Twitter-like newsfeed with photo storage/tagging and eVite-style invitations, all with comprehensive user-controlled privacy settings.

What would a social network have to offer (other than "everybody's already on it") for you to shift your focus from Facebook?

MediaMaven said...

In one of the links I posted in my privacy post, a commenter mentioned a Facebook-like startup. I haven't investigated it, though.

Good question. The utilities you mentioned are important; I really love the invitations, as it's so easy to have any sort of gathering. If a rival site managed to combine Facebook's utility with privacy protections, it might have a shot. There are plenty of niche groups (ConnectU being one), but on a mass scale, it really has to do with timing. Facebook just managed to win because of luck and timing.