danah continues the "precious," er, Facebook conversation…

danah boyd continues the conversation. danah (she doesn’t capitalize her name) is one of our industry’s top researchers about social software.

Actually now that Milan (our new son) is coming I’m finding myself a lot more in her camp than previously.

Why?

Maryam doesn’t want Milan to become a public object. She doesn’t want to see his photo taken onto some gossip or hater site and turned into a Kathy Sierra-style caricature. She keeps telling me to keep his photo only on sites where we can lock out anyone but our close personal friends and family.

It’s why I want per-item privacy that’s easy to figure out and easy to set. Facebook doesn’t have it. That’s one of the reasons why I am getting so much heat from around the blogosphere for “letting anyone in.”

Another case study? One of my friends caught his teenage son having a party because his son posted some pictures of that party to his Facebook page. Let’s just say that “dad” isn’t allowed into his Facebook profile anymore. This is yet another example of the problems that Facebook users are facing. Forget the fact that many of you believe that parents should have transparency into their kids lives. This was a case where a kid put some content up that he didn’t want someone else to find yet they did. Same thing as an employer finding a photo of you doing something that they would find to be a fireable offense.

There is going to be a lot of tension about Facebook until it adds much better privacy controls. Some things deserve to be open to the public (and to Google). Glad to see Facebook is recognizing that. But other things should only be kept for close personal friends. I wish I could set Facebook stuff to be shared with the audience I want to share that media with (whether or not I usually want to make my stuff totally public).

Personally, Facebook would do a lot better to listen to danah than to listen to the tech geeks like me who want more publicly-available features on Facebook.

There are a lot more people in the world who are like my wife and who want to keep things hidden than there are like me who want to have publicly-available resources.

I really wish there were a service that serves both our needs, though.

I look at the new Moveable Type and it does just this. So does Flickr.

But we don’t have a social graph that lets us really control it.

Until we have a really controllable social graph, we have “precious.” (danah’s new moniker for Facebook).

One other thing that bugs me about Facebook? The messaging (Facebook’s answer for email). I can’t forward messages. I can’t add people to a conversation there. I can’t BCC anyone. And there’s a LOT more that’s missing there. More and more people are going to get mad about the messaging system built into Facebook. But that’s a separate conversation from the privacy controls that danah and I are talking about here.

Thanks danah, I’d love to continue this on a stage at one of those Facebook conferences.

Comments

  1. Well, you seem to want Facebook to be everything for you and perhaps also to be the best at it, and you know that it will never be. There will always be other tools out there more suitable for such and such task (Jack of all trades…). And the bigger Facebook becomes, the harder it’ll be for it to adapt. And of course, it will never be able to please everyone. You know that.

  2. Well, you seem to want Facebook to be everything for you and perhaps also to be the best at it, and you know that it will never be. There will always be other tools out there more suitable for such and such task (Jack of all trades…). And the bigger Facebook becomes, the harder it’ll be for it to adapt. And of course, it will never be able to please everyone. You know that.

  3. LiveJournal.com has been doing this for years, and they do it with their photo sharing “Scrapbook” also (AND you can set the security level for each photo AS you upload them from your phone, for example.)

    It’s no shock that MT is now adding these features, as does all of the other 6A sites are doing.

  4. LiveJournal.com has been doing this for years, and they do it with their photo sharing “Scrapbook” also (AND you can set the security level for each photo AS you upload them from your phone, for example.)

    It’s no shock that MT is now adding these features, as does all of the other 6A sites are doing.

  5. There used to be a rule in the old days of the Internet about email. The rule went something like, “Assume that your email will be forwarded. There is no such thing as confidential.” The same rule applies today. If you don’t want the world to see it then you don’t put it on the World Wide Web.

    Even with privacy controls built-in to Facebook – have you read the terms of service? Facebook, Google, (insert your provider of choice) are all subject to takeover, buyout, bankruptcy, change of direction, data theft, change of leadership (evil), etc. If you trust these people to truly trust your privacy at some point you’re in for a rude awakening.

    Like the email rule of old, you best assume transparency is the rule before you share.

  6. There used to be a rule in the old days of the Internet about email. The rule went something like, “Assume that your email will be forwarded. There is no such thing as confidential.” The same rule applies today. If you don’t want the world to see it then you don’t put it on the World Wide Web.

    Even with privacy controls built-in to Facebook – have you read the terms of service? Facebook, Google, (insert your provider of choice) are all subject to takeover, buyout, bankruptcy, change of direction, data theft, change of leadership (evil), etc. If you trust these people to truly trust your privacy at some point you’re in for a rude awakening.

    Like the email rule of old, you best assume transparency is the rule before you share.

  7. Mr. Scoble -

    Ever tinkered with the WordPress PRIVATE features? We set up a standalone WordPress.com blog a few months ago and made some posts password protected and some not. The plumbing worked really well.

    I think Matt and co also have purely password protected spaces too for entire groups of people (like family). They’ll have to have WordPress accounts. So, unfortunately, Yet-Another-Password… Pix are no problem. But private video? Don’t even think about it (yet) on WordPress… It has to be hosted someplace in the clear for it to embed properly.

    Man I wish Leopard Server was out in the open RFN. Teams has a LOT of what you’re wanting – privacy governed by rules, group calendar, messaging… For that matter so does Podcast Producer. Patrick would make an awesome Leopard admin for you guys (maybe even enthusiastic… you think?) MS SBS might have some of that too. MS is my eggplant though… won’t touch the stuff unless tricked into it.

    Gerald, Tulsa

  8. Mr. Scoble -

    Ever tinkered with the WordPress PRIVATE features? We set up a standalone WordPress.com blog a few months ago and made some posts password protected and some not. The plumbing worked really well.

    I think Matt and co also have purely password protected spaces too for entire groups of people (like family). They’ll have to have WordPress accounts. So, unfortunately, Yet-Another-Password… Pix are no problem. But private video? Don’t even think about it (yet) on WordPress… It has to be hosted someplace in the clear for it to embed properly.

    Man I wish Leopard Server was out in the open RFN. Teams has a LOT of what you’re wanting – privacy governed by rules, group calendar, messaging… For that matter so does Podcast Producer. Patrick would make an awesome Leopard admin for you guys (maybe even enthusiastic… you think?) MS SBS might have some of that too. MS is my eggplant though… won’t touch the stuff unless tricked into it.

    Gerald, Tulsa

  9. I wouldn’t trust any company or platform to keep anything private forever, even if it’s private for now.

    I hosted a private EZboard a few years ago…password protected access for about 20 people. I quit paying for the account, told them to close it, and assumed they would destroy it. Instead, they put ads all over it and opened it to the public, against my knowledge or consent. I ran across it accidently recently from a Google search. It took me three weeks of contacting them and threatening them with legal action to get something done, and even now it’s still there. The most that I got out of them was access again so that I could delete the forums one by one by one. It took me hours to do. I would love to sue the hell out of them, but I couldn’t even get a physical address to serve papers to.

    Once you put something on the web, it becomes permanent. Commitments to keep it private probably won’t be. Facebook may be the darling now, but what’s going to happen to all that information when something else takes its place? You may trust a platform today, but what happens when it changes hands tomorrow?

    There’s an old saying: don’t tell anybody what you want nobody to know. I think a version of that applies to anything web related.

  10. I wouldn’t trust any company or platform to keep anything private forever, even if it’s private for now.

    I hosted a private EZboard a few years ago…password protected access for about 20 people. I quit paying for the account, told them to close it, and assumed they would destroy it. Instead, they put ads all over it and opened it to the public, against my knowledge or consent. I ran across it accidently recently from a Google search. It took me three weeks of contacting them and threatening them with legal action to get something done, and even now it’s still there. The most that I got out of them was access again so that I could delete the forums one by one by one. It took me hours to do. I would love to sue the hell out of them, but I couldn’t even get a physical address to serve papers to.

    Once you put something on the web, it becomes permanent. Commitments to keep it private probably won’t be. Facebook may be the darling now, but what’s going to happen to all that information when something else takes its place? You may trust a platform today, but what happens when it changes hands tomorrow?

    There’s an old saying: don’t tell anybody what you want nobody to know. I think a version of that applies to anything web related.

  11. LiveJournal has some of the features (in some fashion) that you mention. When you post an entry, you indicate whether it is public, private (for just you), for friends, or custom. For friends are for those who you have specifically added as a friend. Custom allows you to create custom “friends groups” that include specific users. For example, at a previous job, my coworkers also had Live Journal accounts. I created a friends group that included them and then I would post work logs to my LJ to that friends group.

    It would be nice to have that level of granularity at Facebook as well. “I only want these friends to see these pictures, this application, this status message”, etc. It would make it easier to manage the “public” persona for the world, of potential employers, clients, business partners, and the “private” persona for your close friends.

  12. LiveJournal has some of the features (in some fashion) that you mention. When you post an entry, you indicate whether it is public, private (for just you), for friends, or custom. For friends are for those who you have specifically added as a friend. Custom allows you to create custom “friends groups” that include specific users. For example, at a previous job, my coworkers also had Live Journal accounts. I created a friends group that included them and then I would post work logs to my LJ to that friends group.

    It would be nice to have that level of granularity at Facebook as well. “I only want these friends to see these pictures, this application, this status message”, etc. It would make it easier to manage the “public” persona for the world, of potential employers, clients, business partners, and the “private” persona for your close friends.

  13. “[...] One other thing that bugs me about Facebook? The messaging (Facebook’s answer for email). I can’t forward messages. I can’t add people to a conversation there. I can’t BCC anyone. And there’s a LOT more that’s missing there. [...]”

    This is a couple of features we give for granted on email and taht I also really miss on FB…

  14. “[...] One other thing that bugs me about Facebook? The messaging (Facebook’s answer for email). I can’t forward messages. I can’t add people to a conversation there. I can’t BCC anyone. And there’s a LOT more that’s missing there. [...]”

    This is a couple of features we give for granted on email and taht I also really miss on FB…

  15. Even if facebook wanted to go more in the privacy-eroding direction that it’s headed now, it could enable such public-focused possibilities while ensuring strong default privacy settings. None of this opt-out bullshit. As danah points out, the way the settings are structured essentially engineers a lack of privacy for many. There may be brewing tension between the camp of scoble-use (friend everyone, use it for publicity or whatever fun!) and my friends and folks (fb is a social tool to complement our lives, first and foremost)… I don’t know that I like where FB is going long term, and I have been saying for the past year that it needs to be careful lest it start alienating its major userbase with scary changes. Not that most of them will ever notice.

  16. Even if facebook wanted to go more in the privacy-eroding direction that it’s headed now, it could enable such public-focused possibilities while ensuring strong default privacy settings. None of this opt-out bullshit. As danah points out, the way the settings are structured essentially engineers a lack of privacy for many. There may be brewing tension between the camp of scoble-use (friend everyone, use it for publicity or whatever fun!) and my friends and folks (fb is a social tool to complement our lives, first and foremost)… I don’t know that I like where FB is going long term, and I have been saying for the past year that it needs to be careful lest it start alienating its major userbase with scary changes. Not that most of them will ever notice.

  17. Hey, I finally went over to the Live Spaces greenie side. Just a place for knock-off stuff not so technical or serious as I want to be elsewhere.

    Meanwhile, you’ve been blogging up a storm yourself, rather than doing all the work in Google Reader. Nice to see that.

    I like the way you are looking at privacy but I wonder how having fine control of our social graph at the unit-of-conversation level will work for just plain folks. It could get tedious, be easy to lose track of, etc.

    This has me baffled, although it is easy to think of, say, publish-and-subscribe models and some kind of authenticated, authorized RSS or Atom Publishing goodie that works that finely. The question is how can people use it in its user-interactive form and how can they be confident about what is happening with it?

    Considering that most of us don’t have a clue how OpenID or Information Cards works in our favor, and even the user-centric identity people are allergic to public-key stuff, I think this is going to be very difficult.

  18. Hey, I finally went over to the Live Spaces greenie side. Just a place for knock-off stuff not so technical or serious as I want to be elsewhere.

    Meanwhile, you’ve been blogging up a storm yourself, rather than doing all the work in Google Reader. Nice to see that.

    I like the way you are looking at privacy but I wonder how having fine control of our social graph at the unit-of-conversation level will work for just plain folks. It could get tedious, be easy to lose track of, etc.

    This has me baffled, although it is easy to think of, say, publish-and-subscribe models and some kind of authenticated, authorized RSS or Atom Publishing goodie that works that finely. The question is how can people use it in its user-interactive form and how can they be confident about what is happening with it?

    Considering that most of us don’t have a clue how OpenID or Information Cards works in our favor, and even the user-centric identity people are allergic to public-key stuff, I think this is going to be very difficult.

  19. I hate to say it, Robert, but you want a LiveJournal.

    Per-item control on everything you post. You can have multiple groups of friends, and set items to be readably by only some groups. The same goes for LJ Scrapbook, their photo-hosting service.

    Sure, it’s not trendy like Facebook, but it’s functional.

  20. I hate to say it, Robert, but you want a LiveJournal.

    Per-item control on everything you post. You can have multiple groups of friends, and set items to be readably by only some groups. The same goes for LJ Scrapbook, their photo-hosting service.

    Sure, it’s not trendy like Facebook, but it’s functional.

  21. Aaron: LiveJournal might have this particular feature, but they don’t have any of the other stuff that attracts me to Facebook. Cleanliness of design. The top technologists and an ability to avoid idiots. An application platform that is really interesting.

    Not to mention that nearly NONE of my friends or family are on LiveJournal. Remember, I had people begging me to join Facebook for months before I did. I remember Kevin Rose telling me I +had+ to get onto Facebook. He never said that about LiveJournal.

  22. Aaron: LiveJournal might have this particular feature, but they don’t have any of the other stuff that attracts me to Facebook. Cleanliness of design. The top technologists and an ability to avoid idiots. An application platform that is really interesting.

    Not to mention that nearly NONE of my friends or family are on LiveJournal. Remember, I had people begging me to join Facebook for months before I did. I remember Kevin Rose telling me I +had+ to get onto Facebook. He never said that about LiveJournal.

  23. Robert,
    You know my feelings on privacy and children. I can’t recommend highly enough on keeping pictures and info about Milan OUT of the public eye. Tom Cruise may have gone all wacko, but even he was smart enough to keep 99% of his baby’s life private.

    For my son, I have a private Web site powered by WordPress. Photos are marked private on Flickr, but accessible through the WP site. Videos I upload manually through the WP interface to my hosted account. My family all have the name/password to log in, and all keep up with his pictures, news, and videos via the “blog”. For me, it’s the perfect combo.

    Best wishes to you & Maryam as your date nears!

  24. Robert,
    You know my feelings on privacy and children. I can’t recommend highly enough on keeping pictures and info about Milan OUT of the public eye. Tom Cruise may have gone all wacko, but even he was smart enough to keep 99% of his baby’s life private.

    For my son, I have a private Web site powered by WordPress. Photos are marked private on Flickr, but accessible through the WP site. Videos I upload manually through the WP interface to my hosted account. My family all have the name/password to log in, and all keep up with his pictures, news, and videos via the “blog”. For me, it’s the perfect combo.

    Best wishes to you & Maryam as your date nears!

  25. Good questions for the privacy mix Robert. I worry tha some online parents are making the lives of their children too “public” because they are not marking pix “private” and even adding extensive info to sites like Maya’s Mom (an excellent site but I’m not sure if it’s private enough). That said there are very few examples out of the billions of online interactions where this “innocent” type of posting has led to problems.

  26. Good questions for the privacy mix Robert. I worry tha some online parents are making the lives of their children too “public” because they are not marking pix “private” and even adding extensive info to sites like Maya’s Mom (an excellent site but I’m not sure if it’s private enough). That said there are very few examples out of the billions of online interactions where this “innocent” type of posting has led to problems.

  27. [...] danah continues the “precious,” er, Facebook conversation… « Scobleizer Maryam (wife) doesn’t want Milan (new kid) to become a public object. She doesn’t want to see his photo taken onto some gossip or hater site and turned into a Kathy Sierra-style caricature. She keeps telling me to keep his photo only on sites where we can lock out anyone but our close personal friends and family. [...]

  28. If you want to use the internet to be totally public, use Facebook. It’s a very powerful tool.

    Family bloggers long ago decided that if you want to use the internet to be really, really selective about who sees what, use LiveJournal. It’s totally uncool, but LiveJournal has millions of users precisely because of the option to severely limit who sees what.

  29. If you want to use the internet to be totally public, use Facebook. It’s a very powerful tool.

    Family bloggers long ago decided that if you want to use the internet to be really, really selective about who sees what, use LiveJournal. It’s totally uncool, but LiveJournal has millions of users precisely because of the option to severely limit who sees what.

  30. I’m also fascinated by the changing face of privacy and the intersection where we’ll end up (I can’t help it because librarians continue to fight the PATRIOT Act to help protect your privacy). ;-)

    And I agree that it’s up to the companies providing the services to implement granular controls in order for users to feel comfortable enough to post private information. So thanks for continuing this conversation.

    Where I disagree with your post is that Flickr does *not* provide that granularity. My work friends are mostly different than my non-work friends, and there are things I would show certain people in my family but not others. My life isn’t simple enough that I can divide it down a neat line of “friends” on one side and “family” on the other. I was disappointed when Flickr’s recent improvement was collections and not contact groups. I keep hoping they will rectify this.

  31. I’m also fascinated by the changing face of privacy and the intersection where we’ll end up (I can’t help it because librarians continue to fight the PATRIOT Act to help protect your privacy). ;-)

    And I agree that it’s up to the companies providing the services to implement granular controls in order for users to feel comfortable enough to post private information. So thanks for continuing this conversation.

    Where I disagree with your post is that Flickr does *not* provide that granularity. My work friends are mostly different than my non-work friends, and there are things I would show certain people in my family but not others. My life isn’t simple enough that I can divide it down a neat line of “friends” on one side and “family” on the other. I was disappointed when Flickr’s recent improvement was collections and not contact groups. I keep hoping they will rectify this.

  32. Robert, your solution to email onfb is..

    Look at my profile there is an application in there that allows me to point my profile viewers to an app to email me via my email address rather than message me via FB messaging..

  33. Robert, your solution to email onfb is..

    Look at my profile there is an application in there that allows me to point my profile viewers to an app to email me via my email address rather than message me via FB messaging..

  34. Why Facebook Content Should Stay on Facebook

    Yes, we know there are hacks. But those don’t count. And don’t worry- we think video blogging is inefficient too. Consider it a Marshall McLuhan homage.

  35. i like your writing but you need to check your facts before making a claim. The top journals in IS are Management Science, Information Systems Research (ISR) and Management Information Systems Quarterly (MISQ). The top conferences in IS are ICIS, WISE and WITS. A person can be called one of the top researchers if he/she has publications in top journals and conferences.

  36. i like your writing but you need to check your facts before making a claim. The top journals in IS are Management Science, Information Systems Research (ISR) and Management Information Systems Quarterly (MISQ). The top conferences in IS are ICIS, WISE and WITS. A person can be called one of the top researchers if he/she has publications in top journals and conferences.

  37. [...] Part of the ‘debate’ raging around the social networks at the moment is the call for transparency from various ‘A’ listers and the need for privacy from pretty much everyone else. Previously Robert Scoble was lambasted (not really a new sensation for the poor guy sadly) for holding the view that transparency, (in the sense of openness and accountability) was the only real way to be online, from a certain stand point it’s easy to see why he thought that but with the imminent arrival of his new son, he’s taken the floor to say so why his position has altered slightly. [...]

  38. I think you’re looking for the same thing I am. Something that Laurel Papworth has called ‘Extendable Cones of Silence’….

    ~biff~

  39. I think you’re looking for the same thing I am. Something that Laurel Papworth has called ‘Extendable Cones of Silence’….

    ~biff~

  40. i cant believe the amount of people that are so into facebook. playing games most of the time.. and finding friends and things like that. isnt there email or isnt there the telephone.. arent PS3′s created for those gamers in mind.. and wasnt the internet created for the gifted minds to conglomorate

  41. i cant believe the amount of people that are so into facebook. playing games most of the time.. and finding friends and things like that. isnt there email or isnt there the telephone.. arent PS3′s created for those gamers in mind.. and wasnt the internet created for the gifted minds to conglomorate