Who are you to think you are responsible for my privacy?

A birds cageAn interesting panel discussion with Google and Facebook opposing each other about data portabilty. Facebook refuses for now to implement Google’s FriendConnect. The reason Facebook won’t, according to spokesmen, lawyers and other executives is that Google violates their terms of use. FriendConnect could violate the user privacy, something very dear to Facebook.

A quote from the article written by Dan Farber:

Facebook’s Dave Morin defined openness as giving people control over the information they share and providing developers with the capability to build on top of the Facebook platform. Social data breaks down into three categories, Morin said: identity data, social graph data, and feeds and social actions. With 80 million users, Facebook has a responsibility to make sure that users understand what and how they are sharing information, he added.

David Recordon has a very nice way of saying that the Facebook approach is bullshit:

“What Facebook is doing (with dynamic privacy) is very laudable–if you choose to share something in one place, it should appear in another. It’s just not clear on how this dynamic privacy will work. If Facebook tries to do it by themselves and not with other people, it will be hard to make it really scale,” said David Recordon of Six Apart, who has been involved in data portability efforts.

While I do understand the need for privacy and protection for users, I also cannot help but feel that Facebook is playing its final cards in an already lost game of Walled Garden poker. Actually Dave Morin says two different and not so complementary things (I am paraphrasing here).

  1. We need to protect user privacy
  2. We need your data so that we can let 3trd party developers into our walled garden, thus making a whole lot of revenues

I believe that this whole privacy discussion is bullshit. Am I the only one finding it a bit ironic that I have to leave the safety of MY privacy at Facebook or Google to defend. They aren’t there to protect my privacy. They are there to “harm my privacy as little as possible” in order to make a few bucks. And to be honest, I’m fine with that. I understand that allowing such companies to access and work on the data I provide them I get services in return. But they shouldn’t be having this pathetic discussion over my privacy. They are at it because they have interfering business models. So let’s just quit this “laudable” privacy heroics and just talk about the things that are really what it is about.

There is only one person remotely capable of being responsible for my privacy, and that is me. If you seriously want to help me be in control of my privacy, then stop hiding behind your business models and terms of service. Provide me with easy to use privacy controls that do not need 10 pages of judicial language. Tell me exactly which switches I can set to protect my privacy, ad in return you can decide for yourself how much of the service you provide is free for me. I can understand the need to make revenues.

Stop choosing the path of advertisement harassment and 10 page terms of service while at the same time pretending it is for the “protection of the user”. We don’t need protection from either Google or Facebook. We need these giants to take the side of the user instead of the network.

If Facebook would be truly thinking user-centric, they wouldn’t be talking to Google about my privacy. They would be talking to me. They would provide me easy controls and also be very clear about the consequences of using those controls. If I protect all of my privacy then I shouldn’t expect much in terms of free services (as Facebook does need to make a buck). If I relieve my privacy controls and allow specific access to parts of my personal data, I get the service for free. It is simple, honest, and user centric. In that way I’m in control.

So please, stop doing all these “laudable” things. Hand me the controls over my privacy instead. Choose the side of the user once. It will help us all create a user-centric web. And it will stop us using the dreadful free but ads based business model that locks both the investor and the entrepreneur into walled garden thinking and holds us all in a web 2.0 Death Grip. Right now, a Facebook user is like a beautiful bird. The bird is free to fly anywhere it want, as long as it remains in the golden cage Facebook has provided them.

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About vanelsas

See my about page, http://vanelsas.wordpress.com/about/ ;-)
This entry was posted in advertisement trap, business model, Facebook, Friendconnect, Google, privacy, user centric web and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Who are you to think you are responsible for my privacy?

  1. abbymartin says:

    Thank you for calling out Facebook so eloquently on what this is really about: they don’t want to share the data they mine so they don’t have to share those profits.

    Everyone who has ever read their terms of service for Facebook (in its teeny, tiny type) understands in a heartbeat that this – and not anyone’s privacy- is what it is all about.

    A wonderful read as usual. Thank you.

    Abby

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