Much ado about privacy on Facebook (I wish Facebook were MORE open!!!)

Facebook Like Buttons

Jeff Jarvis wraps up a couple of weeks of bloggers’ angst about Facebook in a post titled “Confusing *a* public with *the* public.”

Some things.

1. I +love+ the Facebook like button. More on that in a minute.
2. So far only about 50 of my more than 1,300 friends have disappeared from my Facebook friend network. Hardly an indictment by the tech elite (and some of those probably haven’t deleted their accounts, but just removed me as a friend, something that’s pretty common and has been seen every year — keep in mind that’s since last August, so I don’t even think I’ve lost 50 friends in past month).
3. There’s a competitive social network, Pip.io, which answers all of Jeff’s concerns (has much better thought out model of privacy and publics) but so far it hasn’t seen any major adoption.
4. Isn’t this the fifth time Facebook has pissed off pundits? What happened the previous four times it pissed off people? Oh, yeah, it saw huge growth.
5. When I was in Tel Aviv Facebook’s like buttons were so popular people were wearing them as fashion statements and at the biggest tech conference there, Marker.Comvention, they were handing out Facebook like buttons as stickers.

But over the past few weeks I’ve talked with lots of people about Facebook and my attitude toward privacy. It’s clear that Facebook has messed with something and that some of us are having a tough time with that. I think Jeff nailed what it was.

Instead of calling it “publics” I say we wanted to be in control of our story. I said that Facebook had brought us an inch closer to the end of privacy.

The thing is, my wife says she doesn’t care. My wife is closer to a normal user than I ever will be. I haven’t cared about privacy for years. If I don’t want you to read something I don’t put it on a computer. Period.

Remember, I worked at Microsoft. What happened in 2000? The DOJ took all of Microsoft employees’ supposedly private emails and put them into public. So I knew back then that anything I put on a computer could end up on the front page of the New York Times.

This is why I took a very transparent attitude for the past decade toward my life. I have always set my Facebook to the most public setting possible.

Whoa?!? Here’s the deal: I wish Facebook had NO PRIVACY AT ALL!

That’s called the open web. I wish Google could index every word I write on Facebook. Hint, it can’t.

The thing I hate about Facebook is that people who want to see my profile can’t. Even now only 5,000 of you can look at my Facebook profile. That’s lame.

I want to live my life in public. Why? Because that way none of you can exploit me more than any other.

Right now 1,300 people have access to my Facebook profile. That sucks.

I wish you all had access to my profile.

Yes, I know some of you have delusions of creating the equivalent of an exclusive dinner party, or, even, something bigger like a TED conference in your Facebook page.

I’m just so bored with all that talk. Just what are you doing that needs to be so damned private? Are you having sex inside Facebook? Doing illegal drugs? Cheating on your wife? Damn, your Facebook life must be SO interesting!

Me, count me out of this whole privacy thing. I want everything I do to be public and then I don’t have to spill thousands of words crying when Mark Zuckerberg takes my stuff and exposes it in a search engine.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about why I love Facebook’s new features so much.

1. I’m finding new restaurants, thanks to Yelp‘s use of Facebook’s likes.
2. I’m finding new hockey players to follow thanks to NHL‘s use of Facebook’s likes.
3. I’m finding new questions and answers thanks to Answer.com‘s use of Facebook’s likes. (That’s the #18th biggest site on the web, and they just turned on likes).
4. I’m finding new music over on Pandora thanks to its sharing of my Facebook’s friend’s music listening behaviors.

So, cry me a river. Your “publics” have been destroyed. Your privacy is gone.

Come join us in the open web Facebook! Get rid of all the walls, including the stupid limits of 5,000 friends and the stupid kicking people off of the service (which continues to this day).

I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.

Now excuse me, I’m off to click “like” on some more things and, even, have added a new bar from Wibiya where you can see other people who have clicked like on my blog. Oh, yet another cool feature thanks to Zuckerberg’s throwing our publics under the bus.

Thank you Mark!

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

167 thoughts on “Much ado about privacy on Facebook (I wish Facebook were MORE open!!!)

  1. Cool Robert, privacy is dead! The crew will be right over to set up web cams in your home in every room and run them 24/7/365. Going on a vacation? No problem. Got a portable crew that will strip any privacy away 24/7/365.

    Privacy is not dead. It never will be no matter how many Facebooks try. Why? Because human beings will not allow it. Why?

    Because human beings VALUE PRIVACY and CHOICE.

    That's also why there will be something after Facebook too.

    Don't believe me? Check back in 3 to 5 years.

  2. haha.. Saw @JohnFugelsang perform the other night and he was saying how on twitter that when you say #justsaying, it takes away the credit, basically saying that you potentially have no testies according to Mr. Fugelsang.

  3. That's a good point. I notice over on Techcrunch, though, they have buttons for a variety of services. Even below on my bar you can retweet, FriendFeed me, or Facebook like me (and Google Buzz coming soon).

  4. In California we live in an “at will” work state. Basically that means I can be fired for ANY reason. I would make sure that ANYTHING I put online is OK with my boss. Of course, I take risks all the time, but I know I can be fired at any time for what I put online. Hell, my boss might wake up tomorrow and decide he doesn't like this post and fire me. That's the risks and I know them well. Heck, there's risks to living life. 40,000 people die in cars in the United States every year. I bet your daughter still wants to drive, doesn't she? I'm far more worried about that (my 16-year-old son is learning to drive now) then whatever Zuckerberg is going to do to my supposed privacy.

  5. I'm not sure those leaving facebook recently are all doing it over privacy. I left because Open Graph and Social Plugins represent a threat to an open web of social services. Ask your nearest developer to build a Like button that works with facebook and one other site. Turns out you can't, Facebook has made it difficult to hook in and offer choice to sites and users.

    Anyway, bigger things are happening than Zjuckerburg's high-school revenge.

  6. There was nothing going on in those videos that was against company policy, nothing that could have made them or their employer look bad. It was the fact that they were done on company time that was the basis of them being fired.

    They were videos of the type that collectively, could have been put together and made into a nice commercial that would have made the company look good. It was employees explaining what they do and showing them hard at work, paying attention to the small details that make that place of business a good customer experience.

  7. Facebook is a communication disruptor. Hostile takeover is necessary for executive measures. Fortunately, the philosophy and policies created by the rules of “The Prince” are rectifying itself.

    I love your issues on data portability and many others, however I'm sticking with facebook.

  8. Sexual preference has hiring consequences? Isn't that discrimination? I'm fairly certain my employer couldn't give a hoot about which way I swing, and I live in repressed catholic Ireland.

    Maybe transparency will finally bust discrimination rather than keep it going as a slippery taboo.

  9. Another real example of unintended consequences based on social graphs alone: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/article… There are plenty of real world, legitimate privacy wishes, about people's sexual orientation or anything else. The latter BTW still can have immediate real world consequences for members of the U.S. military as you well know.

    The truth is, anyone who still has or needs to obtain mainstream employment (or education) now or at some point in the future, likely has different needs than you do, Robert. Your PR/Promo gig for Rackspace does not fall under that rubric…don't forget that you make a living being as public as possible.

  10. And I would go further. I would NEVER post something online that I don't want my boss or wife to see. Even inside a private room. Even on a service I trust. Your daughter should learn that too. All it takes is some hacker getting inside a system and then everything she put in is out there for everyone to see. Remember the Twitter documents? They were private too.

  11. When most geeks say “open web” they mean can they use APIs to get to data and/or can Google or Bing's spiders get inside the walls and get to the data. At least in my experience. Well, now we are finding out there's a cost of being “open.” Twitter is open. Facebook? Not so much.

  12. Back when facebook first started, it was billed as a private network where you could communicate with your real life friends. A lot of people signed up for it just because of that. They didn't want it all public.In fact they didn't want any of it public.

    My daughter was one of them, just a teen at the time. The only people she has added to facebook are people she knows in real life…friends and family. She is a very private person and doesn't want the whole world in her business like it was when she had a Dead Journal account.

    If she wanted her status messages public, she would have joined Twitter or Friendfeed a long time ago. Don't think I never tried to get her to join Friendfeed, because I did. The only reason why I have a facebook account is because she insisted, because she didn't want to communicate in such a public forum.

    Now, she and her friends do change their relationship status whenever they are dating someone new or break up with someone. They also remove their ex's from their friends list, to prevent them from seeing their status messages or interfering with their current relationships.

    Do we really want some young person that can't handle his emotions yet, that can't get over the fact they were dumped, using facebook to stalk and harass their ex, using public status messages to know exactly where they will be, with whom, and when?

    This is the kind of stuff that will happen if people don't have control over who can and can not see their messages, on a network that began as a place that gave you that kind of control.

    And if you think young people shouldn't be making that kind of info public, you are right, they shouldn't, and that's why they use facebook…to keep it between their family and friends.

    I don't argue that one should not have the option to make everything they do public, if that is what they want, but those that joined because it was private should still be able to keep it all private, and that should be the default settings.

    By the way, at least 2 people my daughter worked with have lost their jobs over things posted to facebook, because they all posted videos from their cell phones while they were on the clock.

    A couple of them had their settings to allow everyone to see their videos.

    All they wanted to do was share some of their mundane work life with their friends and family, instead they shared it with the world and got fired.

    The ones that had their privacy settings to only allow friends to see their videos still have their jobs.

  13. Thing is, I don't want everywhere that my Facebook friends go — and being (many of them) “normal” users they go and try anything and everything — channeling my data and contacts to advertisers. That's a spammy kind of connectivity that isn't positive social networking in my book. It's like saying my friends get to determine my privacy from spam, and I don't much care for that.

    I decided when the web hit and USENET archives went searchable that I had a choice between shutting up online or being transparent — and for the most part I am transparent. But I really despise a lot of the idiom of spam and near-spam and malware-enabled marketing out there, and it's *those* aspects of privacy that bug me most about Facebook's promiscuity with my friend network and friend's networks data on me.

    1. I believe that the maleware marketing comes from most any site one surfs to. Are we sure that is not coming from Google, Internet Explorer (Microsoft) or Yahoo??

      Mostly it’s because we use a Windows platform that allows this to happen… most all sites are gleaming information on our browsing habits. Every time we sign up for a free service & they ask for our interests that information is going to advertisers. It’s just a fact of business and using the internet.

    1. Robert, running a script in violation of the TOS is really no big deal and pretty much irrelevant to my statement. So, attempt to marginalize my statement by laughing it up and posting a link to an irrelevant issue. You know what I’m talking about and what establishment I’m talking about. Keep on pushing the virtues of people opening themselves up to the establishment. You fool most, but not me and a handful of others.

  14. I think some do, yes, but not everyone.

    I think the biggest issue I have with the ever changing Facebook policies are that they are automatic. I understand they are a business, and it's nice that the platform is free, but I personally feel like they just do whatever they want whenever they want and force me to abide by their new rules. And on top of that, they don't make it very easy to opt out at all.

    I usually very open and you can find me on just about every site, but my use of Facebook was differn

    1. Merry Meet Folks,

      I’d like to comment on the automated changing of policy… Facebook, & most every other site, in the terms you must agree to before your account request is approved notify you of the privacy policies *and* that the site has the right to change these policies at any time with notification to its users. I remember getting a notification as such.

      If you all chose not to read the terms of use before clicking the “finish” button you have only yourselves to blame for your “private” information becoming public. It all comes down to personal responsibility… grow up & take that responsibility!

      If you don’t want something public use e-mail or snail mail. But who knows what is actually “private” in this world anymore.

      My 2 cents for what it’s worth.

      Bless~ed Be! & Regards,
      Ellizabeth Jo

  15. Robert – surely you must know that you are not representative of the 400M users of facebook in that you want so much of your life out in public? There are very real and not so pleasant side effects of life in public (along with the benefits of course) that most normals would rather do without.

    You can applaud facebook's move in this direction, but they may be re-inventing themselves as a social network for extroverts in a world of people who value their “privacy” (as it pertains to their circles of friends.)

    By the way, that new direction would be a much smaller market than the 400 million they currently count as subscribers.

    1. Now I’m a very private introvert, even my DBF of over a year doesn’t know me completely… & I’m not crying foul that Facebook changed their policies.

      Very simply if I don’t want something made public I keep it off the internet. I go to parties at least once a month where I could be caught in “compromising” pics (and have for the past 6 years) but yet have managed to stay out of them by taking responsibility for my own actions.

      And when I get caught in a pic that isn’t so flattering that gets put on the web, I don’t cry foul… I allowed it to happen. Learn from it & move on.

      Preach responsibility & teach others of the dangers of having an internet presence instead of blaming the company. Know they will do what they must to make a profit… after all that’s why they are here. That’s why any company in the world in in business for anymore thanks to our wonderful American Capitalism.

  16. Actually, the high school students have a very deep understanding of how to protect their privacy and they always knew that Facebook wasn't really private.

  17. I can understand your point here. Being more open and public does allow you to find more information, especially items that are more relevant to your and your friends/family/colleagues.

    But complete openness is not what Facebook was about and I don't think it's something that most people understand. If you're 30 or 40 or 50, or if you're in the tech industry or marketing or a related industry, you probably have a better understanding of what's going on and the implications. If you're in high school or college you probably do not. Students are probably still posting pictures and comments that could be potentially hazardous in the future…because they think they're only posting to their trusted friends…not the world.

    Facebook makes it very difficult in acknowledging that some people keep certain parts of their lives separate. Some posts/updates may simply be taken out of context by people who don't personally know the poster. Sometimes you want to say something to your friends, but not the whole world. Sometimes you want to share some things, but not everything (and certainly not by default…unknown to you).

    Sure you have to be responsible in what you post, but Facebook it not helping anything but constantly changing their policies and making everything public be default. Simply stated, I think that most people expect their information ON Facebook to stay WITHIN Facebook.

  18. “…I say we wanted to be in control of our story.” Nail, meet head. Facebook's “mistakes” (if we can call them that – after all, they haven't seen a decline in traffic because of them) have been to repeatedly take control away from users and decide for them what should and should not be public. You want everything to be public, and I understand the reasoning behind that. However, most Facebook users are very average people living very average lives, and those users do have concerns about privacy.

    Facebook's continual privacy modifications is like threatening to fire someone – it may be effective in order to get your way, but it doesn't make it right. I have to question a business model that requires Facebook to be underhanded and borderline deceptive.

  19. I don't see the two as separate at all. Facebook is moving from something that was meant for just our “real” friends to something that is much more public. Personally Twitter is forcing Zuckerberg to open up and I think that's a GREAT thing for all of us! But it did mess with our trust, agreed there. I'd rather have open than trust.

    1. Being public about things is not being part of the ‘Open Web’.

      Zuckerberg likes to confuse the world with the word Open meaning transparency/lack of privacy instead of Technical Openness of technology. We shouldn’t help him out.

    2. Being public about things is not being part of the ‘Open Web’.

      Zuckerberg likes to confuse the world with the word Open meaning transparency/lack of privacy instead of Technical Openness of technology. We shouldn’t help him out.

    3. Being public about things is not being part of the ‘Open Web’.

      Zuckerberg likes to confuse the world with the word Open meaning transparency/lack of privacy instead of Technical Openness of technology. We shouldn’t help him out.

    4. Being public about things is not being part of the ‘Open Web’.

      Zuckerberg likes to confuse the world with the word Open meaning transparency/lack of privacy instead of Technical Openness of technology. We shouldn’t help him out.

    5. Being public about things is not being part of the ‘Open Web’.

      Zuckerberg likes to confuse the world with the word Open meaning transparency/lack of privacy instead of Technical Openness of technology. We shouldn’t help him out.

    6. Being public about things is not being part of the ‘Open Web’.

      Zuckerberg likes to confuse the world with the word Open meaning transparency/lack of privacy instead of Technical Openness of technology. We shouldn’t help him out.

    7. Being public about things is not being part of the ‘Open Web’.

      Zuckerberg likes to confuse the world with the word Open meaning transparency/lack of privacy instead of Technical Openness of technology. We shouldn’t help him out.

    8. Being public about things is not being part of the ‘Open Web’.

      Zuckerberg likes to confuse the world with the word Open meaning transparency/lack of privacy instead of Technical Openness of technology. We shouldn’t help him out.

  20. Robert you can wish for the death of privacy all you like – but confusing Facebook with being less like AOL and more like the Open Web is just silly and totally unrelated

  21. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”
    Zuckerberg isn’t trying to be more like the open web. He wants the web to revolve around him. The “open” graph has you as a central point. Guess what Zuckerberg defines ‘you’ as – your profile as it stands on Facebook.

    When ‘I’ can be defined by any site, then he will be trying to make an open graph.
    As it stands Facebook is one giant walled garden with a tree that has roots growing past the walls.
    When the tree can be planted anywhere, we’ll talk about Facebook not being the next AOL.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook. In fact I agree with most of what is said in this post.
    But saying Facebook isn’t a walled garden is insane.

  22. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”
    Zuckerberg isn’t trying to be more like the open web. He wants the web to revolve around him. The “open” graph has you as a central point. Guess what Zuckerberg defines ‘you’ as – your profile as it stands on Facebook.

    When ‘I’ can be defined by any site, then he will be trying to make an open graph.
    As it stands Facebook is one giant walled garden with a tree that has roots growing past the walls.
    When the tree can be planted anywhere, we’ll talk about Facebook not being the next AOL.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook. In fact I agree with most of what is said in this post.
    But saying Facebook isn’t a walled garden is insane.

  23. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”
    Zuckerberg isn’t trying to be more like the open web. He wants the web to revolve around him. The “open” graph has you as a central point. Guess what Zuckerberg defines ‘you’ as – your profile as it stands on Facebook.

    When ‘I’ can be defined by any site, then he will be trying to make an open graph.
    As it stands Facebook is one giant walled garden with a tree that has roots growing past the walls.
    When the tree can be planted anywhere, we’ll talk about Facebook not being the next AOL.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook. In fact I agree with most of what is said in this post.
    But saying Facebook isn’t a walled garden is insane.

  24. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”
    Zuckerberg isn’t trying to be more like the open web. He wants the web to revolve around him. The “open” graph has you as a central point. Guess what Zuckerberg defines ‘you’ as – your profile as it stands on Facebook.

    When ‘I’ can be defined by any site, then he will be trying to make an open graph.
    As it stands Facebook is one giant walled garden with a tree that has roots growing past the walls.
    When the tree can be planted anywhere, we’ll talk about Facebook not being the next AOL.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook. In fact I agree with most of what is said in this post.
    But saying Facebook isn’t a walled garden is insane.

  25. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”
    Zuckerberg isn’t trying to be more like the open web. He wants the web to revolve around him. The “open” graph has you as a central point. Guess what Zuckerberg defines ‘you’ as – your profile as it stands on Facebook.

    When ‘I’ can be defined by any site, then he will be trying to make an open graph.
    As it stands Facebook is one giant walled garden with a tree that has roots growing past the walls.
    When the tree can be planted anywhere, we’ll talk about Facebook not being the next AOL.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook. In fact I agree with most of what is said in this post.
    But saying Facebook isn’t a walled garden is insane.

  26. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”
    Zuckerberg isn’t trying to be more like the open web. He wants the web to revolve around him. The “open” graph has you as a central point. Guess what Zuckerberg defines ‘you’ as – your profile as it stands on Facebook.

    When ‘I’ can be defined by any site, then he will be trying to make an open graph.
    As it stands Facebook is one giant walled garden with a tree that has roots growing past the walls.
    When the tree can be planted anywhere, we’ll talk about Facebook not being the next AOL.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook. In fact I agree with most of what is said in this post.
    But saying Facebook isn’t a walled garden is insane.

  27. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”

    What? Facebook is exactly like AOL. A proprietary platform that can block any vendor at any time with or without notice for cause or without.

    In no way is it like the open web.

  28. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”

    What? Facebook is exactly like AOL. A proprietary platform that can block any vendor at any time with or without notice for cause or without.

    In no way is it like the open web.

  29. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”

    What? Facebook is exactly like AOL. A proprietary platform that can block any vendor at any time with or without notice for cause or without.

    In no way is it like the open web.

  30. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”

    What? Facebook is exactly like AOL. A proprietary platform that can block any vendor at any time with or without notice for cause or without.

    In no way is it like the open web.

  31. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”

    What? Facebook is exactly like AOL. A proprietary platform that can block any vendor at any time with or without notice for cause or without.

    In no way is it like the open web.

  32. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”

    What? Facebook is exactly like AOL. A proprietary platform that can block any vendor at any time with or without notice for cause or without.

    In no way is it like the open web.

  33. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”

    What? Facebook is exactly like AOL. A proprietary platform that can block any vendor at any time with or without notice for cause or without.

    In no way is it like the open web.

  34. “I applaud that Zuckerberg is trying to be less like AOL and more like the open web.”

    What? Facebook is exactly like AOL. A proprietary platform that can block any vendor at any time with or without notice for cause or without.

    In no way is it like the open web.

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