Boy. Facebook is taking a lot of heat for its newest batch of “improvements” as it seeks to solidify its supremacy over the social Web, and provide users with “instant personalization” of websites that they frequent. In short, Facebook wants to give your data to websites like Yelp.com or CNN and in turn provide you stories based on what it “knows” about you. In other words:
Instant personalization means that if you show up to the Internet radio site Pandora for the first time, it will now be able to look directly at your Facebook profile and use public information — name, profile picture, gender and connections, plus anything else you’ve made public — to give you a personalized experience.
It is funny how things can turn so quickly. Just recently, Facebook was an unstoppable force, amassing users and generating some flak, but not enough to slow its enormous growth and image in the public mind. Though we have yet to see if the recent dust-up will be enough to slow Facebook’s growth, it certainly seems to be darkening the image of Facebook, at least in the mind of the Web community.
Take this recent piece on “10 reasons why you should delete your Facebook account” that frames Facebook as the big, bad wolf, but also as somewhat of an imposter, pretending to be bigger and more imposing than they actually are:
Facebook is clearly determined to add every feature of every competing social network in an attempt to take over the Web (this is a never-ending quest that goes back to AOL and those damn CDs that were practically falling out of the sky). While Twitter isn’t the most usable thing in the world, at least they’ve tried to stay focused and aren’t trying to be everything to everyone.
I often hear people talking about Facebook as though they were some sort of monopoly or public trust. Well, they aren’t. They owe us nothing. They can do whatever they want, within the bounds of the laws. (And keep in mind, even those criteria are pretty murky when it comes to social networking.) But that doesn’t mean we have to actually put up with them. Furthermore, their long-term success is by no means guaranteed… the fact remains that Sergei Brin or Bill Gates or Warren Buffett could personally acquire a majority stake in Facebook without even straining their bank account.
Or this one entitled “Facebook is dying – Social is not“:
On top of the complexity and inconsistencies, we have a growing problem of privacy issues. Facebook has a long track record of ignoring people’s privacy. As I wrote in “The First Rule of Privacy”; You are the only one, who can decide what you want to share. Facebook cannot decide that, nor can anyone else.
But, Facebook seems oblivious to this simple principle, and have started sharing personal information with 3rd party “partners” – continuing a long line of really bad decisions when it comes to privacy.
I’m not sure yet what to make of all the huffing and puffing over this latest “privacy scare.” They are certainly sharing more and more of our profile data by default at a rapidly increasing rate. But lest we forget Facebook Beacon, it’s not like this sort of privacy rabble-rousing hasn’t happened before. But back then, there was the (justifiable) sense that Facebook may respect their users, and Facebook did ultimately end up rescinding Beacon’s power (opting instead for what became Facebook Connect). Perhaps what’s different this time is Facebook doesn’t seem to care.