Facebook Asked; Now What Will It Do About Its Privacy Policy Change?

If nothing else, Facebook is demonstrating it learned a lesson from the Beacon situation.  Launched in 2007, Facebook Beacon became a magnet of criticism in part because the company sprung the program--which involved sharing user data with third parties--on unaware consumers.  So this time it's asking what consumers think before loosening the Facebook Privacy Policy.  And how did consumers respond?  The mystery isn't what consumers said but what Facebook will do with all the feedback it received. 

In a post to the Facebook blog, Michael Richter, Facebook's Deputy General Counsel, shared some of the proposed policy changes and noted, "We hope you'll take the time to review all of the changes we're proposing and share your comments."  Most of these changes seem uncontroversial, but then there's this: 

In the proposed privacy policy, we've also explained the possibility of working with some partner websites that we pre-approve to offer a more personalized experience at the moment you visit the site. In such instances, we would only introduce this feature with a small, select group of partners and we would also offer new controls. 

This functionality, which is part of Facebook Platform, is quite similar to the way Beacon worked, only this time Facebook is asking for feedback rather than simply implementing changes.  The specifics contained within the proposed privacy policy state (in part and with my comments): 

Read more

Privacy, regulation, and reputation

I wrote previously about Google's challenges with respect to privacy, and since then it has incurred the wrath of consumers with its initial rollout of Buzz. And my colleague Chenxi Wang blogged about Facebook's issues with its privacy policy.

What's intrigued me about these two incidents is that the companies each ended up making serious missteps by publicizing information that at first blush seems innocuous. Google exposed information about who you email with; Facebook made public your circle of Friends.

Nor does this type of data fall into the category of PII (personal identifiable data). So despite the ever-growing regulatory climate on privacy (HITECH, Massachusetts 201 CMR 17.00, PCI, etc.), the nature of consumer concerns far outpaces any legislative efforts.

Read more

Categories:

I see you, you see me...

In an earlier post, I argued that product managers in social media companies need to start sharpening their understanding of privacy and security issues. Here's another reason why:

Until now, geolocation has been one of those quaint, semi-useful buzzwords: '... now with geolocation!!!' Twitter, Buzz and Foursquare -- the main exponents of exposing your location -- might not be small, but they pale in comparison to Facebook. With the announcement that Facebook will be enabling geolocation next month, Pandora's Box has been torn open; whether you like it or not, geolocation is about to become a huge part of your life.

Read more