Facebook introduced a new feature yesterday that added a feed to anyone’s personal page of everything happening in their friend circle. Basically anytime anyone adds a new friend, comments on another friend, adds new photos, yadda yadda yadda – it shows up in their friends’ “feeds”. This was a bold step (and the creators knew it), but it remains to be seen whether this will last. There has been a protest by students who feel this is crossing the line – that it’s an invasion of privacy and very stalker-esque.
A lot of people keep harping on with the “if you don’t want the world to see, then don’t post it” mantra. It’s not quite as simple as that because it assumes that regular people saw this coming – which they didn’t. It’s like saying “don’t wear your G-string when you go to the pool in your back yard, because the world will see.” Well, yes and no. The G-string diva, while aware that people might see it if they really want to, assumes that it’s ok because no one placed a large camera in the backyard and are now projecting the images to the whole town. This is what Facebook is doing, sort of.
Microsoft is a monster because of the power of the default – IE installed with Windows. I got screwed out of $300 last month because of the power of the default (Adbrite story coming soon). Assuming that users understand the full consequences of posting their private information, when they can’t even spell “Tom Cruise”, is erroneous. Expecting them to change the default settings on their Facebook accounts, or even knowing how to or that the option exists, is even more presumptive. And while the Digg crowd likes to scoff at people for “going with the default settings” like using IE6 instead of Firefox, the reality is that defaults have great power in themselves. When Facebook changed the default to allow all your activities to be viewed, as opposed to making it an option, it really aggravated the invasion of privacy issue.
Now if you excuse me, I have to go post my G-string photos on Flickr.