I don’t think anyone has had more column inches in the press or words in the blogosphere as Facebook. The majority of the last twelve months have been an amazing success as Facebook expanded beyond students and alumni allowing anyone to join. Yahoo apparently valued Facebook at upwards of… Finally, the opening up the Facebook “platform” to 3rd party developers resulted in even more positive press.
Brad Feld and Fred Wilson gave their takes on The Facebook Problem last month – I’d like to suggest a different Facebook Problem.
I’m noticing a growing sense of unease of what “Facebook” is for. Robert Scoble thinks it’s a business tool, Scott Hanselman uses it as a social tool (but thinks it might change), Mark Evans didn’t think it could be a serious tool last month. I like the idea of a LinkedIn/Facebook split, but as more people use Facebook as a business tool it raises privacy concerns for those who don’t view it in the same way.I discussed this with some colleagues this afternoon. We hadn’t added each as friends, yet they were genuinely shocked about the information I was able to access about them. The fact that the default privacy settings can allow non-friends to access your profile presents an issue for users when the Facebook world and real world intersect.
As discussed in Slashdot and the Times; users can tag a photo of you and it is then associated with your account without permission. Granted, while you can remove the tag it’s hardly an easy thing to explain socially. I’m reminded of the saying “easier to apologise than to ask permission”. This type of content injection is not something I appreciate and I’d like to be able to turn it off. While the limited profile does give some control, I personally don’t think it’s quite granular enough – Bill Thomson hit the nail right on the head.
Facebook needs a way to allow users to manage and segment their network more effectively – if they don’t someone will and I suspect we’ll be hearing more about the importance of privacy on social networks as it becomes the norm for professionals, parents and the public at large.