Much Ado About Forthcoming FB Changes
Facebook did not respond to eWEEK for comment as of this writing, but a spokesperson explained the moves to ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick, who added: "It's nice to have one-click access to your Facebook info if you decide to share it with other sites - that's what Facebook Connect does - but the prospect of having that information automatically shared when you show up on another website seems like an idea that won't be well received by users. There's a big difference between opt-in and opt-out 'data portability.'"Facebook is wisely warning users in advance, but consumers aren't used to having their data shared among multiple Websites without express consent. That could touch off another controversy. Or, it could simply die on the vine like the outcry around Facebook's last round of privacy changes from December. How this will shake out is unclear, but Facebook users are already complaining. As of noon EDT, more than 800 people have expressed their disapproval and frustration with these proposals after the original blog post went online Friday afternoon. "My privacy is paramount to me and UNLESS I say so explicitly you have no right to provide my data to whoever you think is authorized," wrote Facebook user Harish Menon. "I don't care if it's your mom and you think she's trustworthy; I don't want my data to be given out to anyone unless I say so." Some of Facebook's 400 million users tend to complain loudly about the smallest design changes. But they stay at Facebook because, well, that's where their data and friends are. Quite the Catch-22. Will users stay if Facebook offers their data to third-party sites, simply opting out of this connection? Or will they continue using the site until they find their data popping up elsewhere and raise hell?
The coming changes, though signaled by Facebook, could still inspire a privacy backlash the likes of which Google just faced with Google Buzz. In that instance, users weren't forewarned. They opted into Buzz and the next thing they knew, their contacts were plopped into their Google profiles.