What Facebook Needs to Remember

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-05-24 Print this article Print

5. Make things easier for users

Currently, Facebook's privacy features are quite good. They allow users to control almost every facet of their profiles, including who can see the content they or others share with friends. But they're too difficult for the average, novice Web user to find. And when they finally find those settings, there isn't enough information to help users adequately determine what to do with each setting. That could be a serious problem. Facebook needs to work hard at making its privacy settings more available and much easier to use. That will not only give its users more options, it will get back the political capital Facebook has lost over these past several months.

6. Establish a quick-response security team

One of the first things Facebook should do is establish a quick-response security team. Although the company currently has security teams in place, it needs to come up with a top-notch team of professionals that are constantly sniffing out issues across the social network, such as searching for phishing scams and for malware that has found its way onto the site. If Facebook can demonstrate to users that it's serious about security and has a quick-response team in place to limit the impact of potential privacy breaches, it could significantly improve its chances of regaining user trust.

7. Start educating users
This one won't be easy, but it's necessary. Facebook needs to do a better job of educating people on the dangers of using social networks. It also needs to help users understand how they can improve their own security and privacy. Admittedly, it will be tough for Facebook to do that. But it needs to try. Educating users is an extremely important step for a company that's trying desperately to look like the good guy in the security and privacy battle. If it can make the point that it's attempting to educate users to help them find problems before they wreak havoc on their own computers, it might be able to keep from alienating its core base.

8. Make privacy and security controls more business-friendly

Consumers might not care about how Facebook's privacy and security controls affect corporations, but the enterprise certainly does. Nowadays, more and more people are accessing social networking sites from the office. Although they don't see the dangers of that, the IT staff does. It's a constant struggle for IT professionals to stay ahead of social network use. But if Facebook added security controls designed specifically for IT administrators to use in their operations, that would change everything. Not only would it make users who want to be able to access social networks at work happy, it would make it easier for companies to safeguard their networks if trouble erupts on the site.

9. Make security a community project

Facebook should tap into the knowledge of its international community to improve the site's security. As Linux, Google and other open-source advocates have shown throughout the years, relying on the intelligence of the community is a smart strategy. Typically, folks across the globe can contribute more to a solid security strategy than a handful of so-called experts sitting in a room somewhere discussing how to improve a platform. By drawing on its users, Facebook can not only improve its security, it can give the community a vested interest in making the site more secure.

10. Always remember the responsibility

In recent months, Facebook might have lost its way. It became too complacent, believing that its success would continue indefinitely. It also figured that its users wouldn't care nearly as much about privacy as they actually do. It was a mistake. Going forward, Facebook needs to remember that it has a responsibility to keep its site secure. It also has a responsibility to keep its users' privacy intact. If it can achieve both of those goals, everything will be fine. But if it loses sight of those goals again, more trouble will certainly await it.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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