A couple of days back, I wrote about Facebook vs Orkut, where I talked about the rapidly growing popularity of Facebook in India. However despite the success and popularity of Facebook, I haven’t been able to get comfortable with Facebook and get truly on-board. A few reasons why I somehow feel rather wary of Facebook. Read more
Orkut has easily been the most popular social network in India for the past few years. However things are changing and Facebook seems to now have replaced Orkut as the happening network. Orkut users are seemingly migrating in herds to Facebook. Orkut seems to have become the network for kids and newbies while Facebook has become the place where the supposedly smart, rich, famous and influential are active. From movie stars to politicians, they all refer to Facebook as their social network of choice.
I am not a very active Facebook user, but I am amazed at the number and frequency of alerts and updates I keep getting from friends and family. I doubt if these friends are aware that even their micro changes and activities on Facebook are being splashed on the screens of all their friends. These alerts sure are the life blood of a networking site and without them sites like Orkut and Facebook would never have been the phenomenons that they are. However shouldn’t the user have a real and simple option to go private?
Keeping your profile updates private and controlling the overall privacy of you profile and applications is relatively simple on Orkut. However Facebook seems to have intentionally made it difficult for users to manage their privacy settings.
There’s an option “Privacy Settings” that provides only partial privacy control. It controls the privacy of only the core profile and stuff and even within this there are multiple options and confusing screens thrown at the user so as to prevent the user from going private.
Applications that you install on Facebook are a major privacy headache. You have separate sections to control privacy of applications that your friends can use to access your profile and for applications that you yourself have installed. By default each new application you install starts of privacy unfriendly.
Click these links to control your Facebook privacy. Don’t forget to edit each application and set it’s privacy settings.
- http://www.facebook.com/editapps.php (On this page ensure that you open and edit each application and tab provided. There’s no easy way to go private on all applications.)
Overall, I think these are bad policies that Facebook needs to fix asap. By providing privacy settings and then making them hopelessly complex, they are trying to project that the users have total control over their privacy when in reality 99.9% of users are totally at the mercy of Facebook.
What Facebook should have is a simple, single screen settings page and one button that says “Go Private” or something like that, which will disable all updates and alerts throughout Facebook as well as all applications.
Considering that privacy is a big concern, especially in the US and the developed world; I am surprised that privacy activists haven’t protested against these Facebook policies as yet.
The 3rd IndicThreads.com Conference On Java Technology will be held in Pune from 25-27 Nov 2008. In previous years, the conference has been quite good at getting people from various companies, countries and cultures talking about Java. However as yet we didn’t have an online forum for delegates to connect amongst themselves and with the speakers. So we recently evaluated the various networking options available. Creating our own networking site, using Orkut, Facebook, Linkedin or a social networking site like Ning were the options we looked at. Read more