Sunday, May 2, 2010

Facebook and Transparency

During the past few days, many Facebook users have complained about the new "privacy" settings and controls. It seems that the word "privacy" is relative. One Washington Post blog post quotes a FB exec saying: "Facebook is all about sharing information. At some level, sharing information is antithetical to secrecy."

However, FB users have some expectation that when they set controls to restrict "sharing" to their own friends, that's exactly what will happen. IMHO, FB should be sharing much more about its changes to privacy controls. Over time, it has been slowly eroding privacy controls, as this timeline shows. No wonder some government officials are calling for FTC investigations.

Successful marketing depends on solid, up-to-date information, which is probably at the heart of this matter. Marketing also depends on trust. FB needs to earn the trust of its users every day through increased transparency. Otherwise, other social media sites will become the new favorites and FB will wither away. And that will affect the many marketers that have posted FB fan pages, not to mention Zynga and other firms that profit from FB-distributed apps and games (FarmVille and its cousins).

More transparency, please. Privacy should be the standard setting, and users can opt-in for various apps, data sharing, and the like--with the full knowledge that when they "like" a page or use an app, they are giving permission to share some or all data.

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