Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Facebook

Yesterday, I received an email from the Facebook team inviting me to a group called, “I will quit Facebook if it is opened to all internet users." Members of the website are outraged over the new Facebook format. Groups like “Facebook is for stalkers” have been created because every movement or click you make is now shown to all members on the homepage. Where does Facebook draw the line between the public and private spheres? Are we all exhibitionists secretly wanting others to see intimate details of our lives by joining sites like this?

Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg recently wrote a letter to all members apologizing about the new format, but stated in his defense that he was proud people were protesting because that is what freedom of speech is all about. His apology was not enough according to one member who said, “Somebody's got to call Mr. Mark Zuckerberg about this new Facebook situation... First this news feed thing (thanks for the apology, but please get rid of it!), now rumors of it going public (as in creepy-old-guy status!) ew!”

In an open letter from Zuckerberg posted on Sept. 8:

We really messed this one up. When we launched News Feed and Mini-Feed we were trying to provide you with a stream of information about your social world. Instead, we did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them. I'd like to try to correct those errors now.When I made Facebook two years ago my goal was to help people understand what was going on in their world a little better. I wanted to create an environment where people could share whatever information they wanted, but also have control over whom they shared that information with. I think a lot of the success we've seen is because of these basic principles.

We made the site so that all of our members are a part of smaller networks like schools, companies or regions, so you can only see the profiles of people who are in your networks and your friends. We did this to make sure you could share information with the people you care about. This is the same reason we have built extensive privacy settings — to give you even more control over who you share your information with.

Somehow we missed this point with News Feed and Mini-Feed and we didn’t build in the proper privacy controls right away. This was a big mistake on our part, and I’m sorry for it. But apologizing isn’t enough. I wanted to make sure we did something about it, and quickly. So we have been coding nonstop for two days to get you better privacy controls. This new privacy page will allow you to choose which types of stories go into your Mini-Feed and your friends’ News Feeds, and it also lists the type of actions Facebook will never let any other person know about.

If you have more comments, please send them over.This may sound silly, but I want to thank all of you who have written in and created groups and protested. Even though I wish I hadn’t made so many of you angry, I am glad we got to hear you. And I am also glad that News Feed highlighted all these groups so people could find them and share their opinions with each other as well.

About a week ago I created a group called Free Flow of Information on the Internet, because that’s what I believe in – helping people share information with the people they want to share it with. I’d encourage you to check it out to learn more about what guides those of us who make Facebook. Today (Friday 9/8) at 4pm edt, I will be in that group with a bunch of people from Facebook, and we would love to discuss all of this with you. It would be great to see you there.

Thanks for taking the time to read this,

Mark


There are many unresolved issues here and people are torn between wanting news feeds and thinking that public information like “Alex is taking a nap” and “Erin is doing a 10 minute Pilates DVD workout” is downright creepy.

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