September 7, 2006

Privacy in a Public Space (updated) [11:12 am]

Still interesting to see what triggers a reaction in this space, and what goes completely unremarked — in this case, a design decision that “breaks” the working metaphor, with unsurprising fallout: Web social site Facebook hit by privacy protests - pdf

Facebook.com, the No. 2 U.S. social network site that is quickly expanding beyond its college student base, has been met with a sudden privacy backlash by users after it made design changes this week.

[...] [T]he Facebook reaction is fueled not because it revealed any new personal data about its users. Rather, the change simply makes it easier for friends to track one another. “Stalking is supposed to be hard,” a Facebook user complained.

“News Feed is just too creepy, too stalker-esque, and a feature that has to go,” reads the petition of the newly formed “Students against Facebook News Feed.”

Nonetheless, the outrage mingled with tongue-in-cheek humor as evidenced in the name of a related protest site: “The Coalition to Stop Facebook, Stalker Edition.” Both groups can be reached only by registered Facebook members at: (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2208288769).

From the Washington Post - In Online Social Club, Sharing Is the Point Until It Goes Too Far - pdf

“It’s really creepy,” said Jenny Myers, who graduated this year from American University and works in Washington. “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous, putting people’s information out there, even small things.”

That might be a shift in thinking among 18-to-25-year-olds, said Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon Institute, a Michigan research firm that studies privacy. “On the one hand, they’re complacent about posting photos but really active and protesting when their information gets posted in a news feed.”

Later: Saying It ‘Messed Up,’ Facebook Modifies Controversial Feature - pdf

Even later: When Information Becomes T.M.I.

Some Slashdot background: Patriot Act Bypasses Facebook Privacy (2006 Jul 11); Facebook Launches Developer API (2006 Aug 17); Facebook Changes Provoke Uproar Among Users (2006 Sep 05); Facebook Scrambles after Unexpected Privacy Fumble (2006 Sep 08); and Social Networking Goes Big Business (2006 Sep 11)

Later: Another object lesson — Few are laughing over sick online joke - pdf

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