Friday, November 19, 2010

Facebook’s Privacy Policy

As with any large social network, Facebook has developed, and continues to iterate, a set of policies that are the guiding rules of the network. The privacy policies and terms of services are put into place as a way to govern the large social network.

When Facebook originally started out, the network was private. Essentially all information was opt-in only. To view any information other than some basic data points and a bio picture, you had to be “friended” by the individual to see other information. But, over time, Facebook tweaked the platform and eventually moved toward a more open network. Information was still all opt-in, but these updates allowed users the option of whether they wanted to expose some, or all, of their information to Facebook search results and external search engines. In a January 2010 interview, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg talked about the battle between openness and privacy. During a speech at the Crunchie awards, Zuckerberg stated:

“People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over the last 5 or 6 years, blogging has taken off in a huge way, and just all these different services that have people sharing all this information.”

Although a lot of controversy over this speech occurred, you need to not lose sight of what Zuckerberg and his executive team deal with at Facebook. Facebook, in terms of population, is one of the largest countries in the world. Therefore, Zuckerberg and his team need to implement strategies and policies that they think will be best for all the citizens of Facebook. Sometimes these aren’t the popular decisions, but most of the time, they are done to help better the entire network. That will cause some percentage of people to become upset. This is the same thing that happens in any country when new laws are passed or existing laws are updated.

One example of trying to do the right thing for the entire community was during a major round of updates to the privacy policy during December 2009 when Facebook released a major update and change to its privacy policies. The goal was to give users more granular control over their privacy settings by, among other updates, allowing them to select, on a per-post basis, who can see content posted to their Facebook profile. Also, Facebook announced that it was removing regional networks. When Facebook was originally created, it included having to choose a network, such as a country, state, city, college, work, or other related groups. The concept behind this was that it would make it easier to connect with people in that group, and also only those within the group could see your profile without being friends with you. This had the reverse effect when Facebook began growing at exponential rates. People became part of large networks, sometimes into the millions. This, of course, made privacy a mute point. So, in this December 2009 update, Facebook tried to change these issues. To help even further, Facebook provided a suggested privacy level for you that you could accept or tweak.

In an open letter to the entire network, Zuckerberg explained:

“We’re adding something that many of you have asked for—the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload.... We’ve worked hard to build controls that we think will be better for you, but we also understand that everyone’s needs are different. We’ll suggest settings for you based on your current level of privacy....”

Immediately after this open letter was posted and the updates flowed in, revolt from the community started. The claim was that by creating these updates, though you could restrict your activities more, it actually tended to lend people to sharing more. Eventually, this calmed down, and people adapted to the new privacy policies and options.

Again, as with a large country, decisions are made and laws or guidelines are created that are put into place for the overall benefit or protection of the community. Not everyone will like these changes, and for some, it could, occasionally, restrict what they’re doing.

Source of Information : Facebook Marketing Designing Your Next Marketing Campaign
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