Facebook has finally decided to directly address the privacy concerns of the media, it’s users, and it’s ex-users. The meeting is scheduled for 4 pm today, May 13th. While Facebook has attempted to downplay the outrage from users, as it has done with previous changes in the past, this latest situation is just too much to ignore. According to sources inside the company, the meeting is to discuss and possibly change the companies privacy strategy.
Over the many redesigns, feature additions, and privacy changes that have come across just recently, Facebook has been able to pretty much ignore user complaints. While everyone would complain about the changes, nobody ever did anything about it beyond creating a Facebook group or blogging about it. Now, prominent tech figures and many previous fans have closed their accounts due to Facebook’s latest changes.
First, they changed the language on the site to increase engagement round fan pages and groups. This ensured users would end up associating themselves with things unintentionally. The next step was launching the Graph API and implementing Instant Personalization. This made it simple for publishers to implement a Like button on their sites and associate visitors with their content. It also made your info freely available to a few 3rd party sites with plans to expand that number in the future.
If this were not enough of a shakeup, we then saw a security hole where any of your friends could get a glimpse of your chat history and pending friend requests. Shortly after that, we find out that Yelp, one of the chosen 3rd parties given access to your data via Instant Personalization, had a security hole that allowed any third party to get access to all of your Facebook data without you ever visiting Yelp or doing anything out of the ordinary. You didn’t even need to be logged in to Facebook.
It’s easy to see how many users are outraged and turned off by the social networking giant. Many so much so that they’ve given up and deleted their accounts. One of the primary issues with the changes Facebook makes is that they are all opt-out instead of opt-in. This means you are automatically tossed into the fire and are expected to a) know what has happened and b) know how to opt-out. Most Facebook users haven’t a clue about this stuff and others even doubt if this opt-out policy is even legal.
It’s debatable whether Facebook will be able to turn this thing around or even if they are looking to do so. While they have lost a few users, they are still #1 and this may just be a play to simply cool things down a bit.