Yesterday, we discussed the announcement from Mark Zuckerberg in which he admits that the company has made mistakes when it comes to your privacy settings. Millions of people cannot be wrong when they collectively complain about the way the popular social networking site handles their information and buries privacy settings – making them nearly impossible to find and manage. Zuck and company have historically made sweeping changes without telling members about it ahead of time. There’s always a bit of backlash, but none as loud as what we’ve seen in recent weeks.
Two years ago, Mark told Marshall Kirkpatrick that “privacy control is the vector around which Facebook operates.” When remembering that statement, it is almost impossible to believe we are dealing with the same person. Back then, he talked often of the importance of user privacy. He swore our information would only ever be visible to the people we accept as friends. Perhaps Mark has forgotten he said such a thing? With the way things stand on the site today, nearly everything on your profile is visible and searchable by default. It’s difficult to navigate your way through the various settings and controls to set things up the way you feel they should be, so many people don’t even bother.
The good news is that beginning tomorrow (May 26, 2010) Facebook will begin introducing new simplified privacy controls. Facebook’s vice president of product Chris Cox announced today at TechCrunch Disrupt that the changes will include improved controls. He didn’t give any specific details to the attendees, so I guess we will have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.
Facebook currently has nearly 200 different privacy options and 50 privacy settings. It’s no wonder that the average person gets hopelessly lost when trying to figure out where they need to opt-out. Why the hell do they have to opt-out, anyway? Shouldn’t it be more of an opt-IN scenario? I’ve said many times that you shouldn’t put things on the Internet that you don’t want others to see. However, I know that humans will be human. They will continue to post things that may not be in their best interest. In light of that, the settings should be easy to find, easy to figure out, and they should be all about choosing to opt IN when it comes to sharing information.