Archive for May, 2010

Killed My Facebook Account

Udated: 6/14 (added views on privacy changes, updated privacy settings)
Update: 5/13 (added analysis link, other links)
Update: 5/12

Many, many reasons for doing so. I’ll update this post later with a FAQ on why. This is going to be an extremely long post and will be updated quite frequently. I’ll probably make it sticky.

1) Why?
I want to control my own online identity, not leave it to a private company with questionable ethics that is accountable to very few. I also don’t have confidence in the technical/security aspects of the site. This has little to do with privacy and I’ll even post links to embarrassing photos.

2) Privacy is dead. Anyway, you have almost 200,000 Twitter followers.
Again, this has little to do with privacy. The ask-for-forgiveness later model of the Facebook system is too much for me. The only thing I care about on Facebook getting out is my email address. And we have already seen this info provided and exposed through two XSS attacks on Yelp.

I’m not going to pin this on Facebook, but the day I deactivated my account, I began to receive hundreds of spam messages a day. I think this has more to do with the poor security of the Yelp site.

3) But they upped your privacy capabilities and made them easier to control.
True, I can now hide my friends and my interests. This move does very little to actually prevent that information from being displayed (you are still listed as a member of the interest group and you are still listed from your more privacy-challenged friends). The simpler controls actually sound nice and I can blow away permissions for the 100+ apps in one fell swoop. Nice. I am contemplating creating a new, bare-bones account that will redirect people to my website. I will continue to hold out and see if there are any more slip-ups.

Bottom Line: Facebook does not respect its users.
Not just with privacy, they have a cavalier attitude that they are smarter than the average user (which is probably true given the Read Write Web spectacle). Here are a few examples:

  1. Embedding originating IP addresses in emails.
  2. Excessively changing privacy controls.
  3. Opt-out schemes on many new features (see below analysis).
  4. Tricking users into oversharing (see below analysis).
  5. Using circular logic to back up the default-to-everyone.
  6. Turning a blind eye to the social game offer schemes.
  7. Extracting usurious fees from profitable partners (Zynga).
  8. Claiming to be open by embracing and extending open source projects and protocols (see my Salmon post).

And I could go on for a while. I have seen the future and it scares me.

Read a great analysis of the recent facebook privacy changes.

Don’t Cross The Streams… And Salmon

When I first got onto Google Buzz, I quickly learned that it is far too easy to cross social Activity Streams. I have accounts on FriendFeed, Cliqset, and others, that aggregate your various social networks into a single activity stream. So this becomes a problem if you add cliqset and your twitter account to Buzz – content is duplicated. And with multiple streams, it can get much worse, fast.

Another problem with these streams is that sometimes they feed into each other to create a river of data. The problem here is finding a crossed stream within that river. Or pulling a single stream out when you don’t even know where it originated.

There has been much talk about the appropriately named Salmon Protocol which allows for comments on your activity to swim upstream to the originating source. This would effectively de-aggregate your content so that conversations can occur in their original silo. Much like permalinks are used when you blast your RSS feed all over the place. Though, this becomes much more important with activity.

Facebook’s Open Graph is pretty much an implementation of Salmon via widgets and toolbars. It’s surprising to me that people in the Salmon circles are calling for OpenLike and OpenDislike when those are just a subset of Salmon. If we could just integrate OAuth and Salmon, there is your viable, open-source competitive framework to Facebook.

To me, it just seems that Facebook is closely watching these Open protocols and pulling an Embrace and Extend on them. Nothing from the Open Graph is new or unique, but people are praising the “visionaries” at Facebook for making a play to take over the web. Wake up people, we’ve already had these tools in front of us for months.

I really expected Google to make this move with Buzz and am shocked that the rug was pulled out from under them. Their focus on the mobile space may be blinding them from the threat to their bread & butter, search.

image/ (you guys really need a new logo!)