1 January 2011
Rachel on should we change our expectations about online privacy?
.net the big question - Should we change our expectations about online privacy?
Rachel on whether we should be looking at changing online privacy expectations particularly with organisations like Facebook.
"It’s quite amazing to me that Facebook can continually get such simple things so terribly wrong. All it would have taken to get this right, would be a quick Poll across the site – similar to the ones so many of its advertisers do. But, as the London based ethics philosopher Theophilus Ogbhemhe says, “common sense is not common.”
It’s wrong for Facebook to change or introduce functionality, settings and / or features that will fundamentally change the way its users engage with the site without first consulting them…. or at the very least making it opt-in.
If Facebook were still cutting its teeth in the social networking world, and being run exclusively by college graduates with no real-world business sense then it would be an understandable error. However, Facebook no longer fall under this nice little umbrella of naivety. They are an enormous international business with investors and advisors from the top tier of the corporate world.
Back in 2008, Facebook boldly urged application developers to focus on the user experience and not dupe them into taking an action they did not explicitly agree to. It is now effectively doing the same thing themselves… and not for the first time! Who could forget Beacon-gate, where Facebook famously trampled all over its customers rights to privacy automatically opting them in to publish third party purchases in their news feed without consent.
Facebook later apologised for Beacon, removed the automatic opt-in and said that, “it’s customers feedback is important” … the thing is Facebook, it should be important enough for you to seek it before implementation, rather than pushing the boundaries of what you can get away and hoping no one notices.
Take note Zuckerberg: Your users take their privacy seriously, even if you don’t."
Rachel's feedback first appeared in .net print magazine (issue 211 in January 2011). See Tim's reply to the question here.
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