This is a post I started in December of last year, then wandered away from for client work. There are a lot of these abandoned ideas that flounder in my drafts folder over the course of a year, and part of my December ritual is to clean them out if I deem them no longer relevant. I think this one is more relevant now than it was then, though the reason has changed. So, what did I intend to talk about? The way other people’s carelessness impacts you, and the way your own apathy compounds the error.
Since my most recent post was about leaving Facebook and already mentioned the privacy violations and user information abuses inherent in its code, let’s start with that network as our example. On Facebook, it doesn’t matter what your personal settings are for privacy. If you interact with people and brands on Facebook anywhere, in any way, your interaction is visible outside your trusted (or, in some cases, semi-trusted) network. As a user I find this infuriating, as the site design itself encourages invasive behavior and an erosion of the understanding of individual boundaries. Brands, however, love this, obviously. What is fine for you as an individual (e.g. clicking like or commenting on a stranger’s post – shown to you because a vague work acquaintance or maybe your cousin “liked” it, friending someone’s unstable family member – whom you have never met – because you think being connected tangentially on Facebook gives you permission to do so, sharing a post when it’s clearly set to “friends only” and not meant to be shared) is a violation for someone else. We wouldn’t behave that way in person, putting people’s privacy at risk (well, except photographers, but that’s a different rant), but people freely do so online. Stowe Boyd saw this challenge coming years ago when he talked about publicy vs privacy.
It seems Facebook is all over the online news today with some changes geared toward overall safety, and others to working with brands and agencies.
Some of the safety changes have been in the process of being rolled out for a while, with Facebook finally collecting all of the options in one place for user access via this post on user safety education, tools and practices. I think the best part of that post is the first section which deals with user education. Half the battle for internet safety is good education on what safety really means online. By making videos and tutorials available Facebook is taking a late, but good, first step toward making an educated user base. I highly recommend seeking out safety education from other sources as well, since anything by Facebook is going to be in keeping with the usual Facebook MO of serving Facebook’s own best interests before the user’s.
In the last part of the safety post, Facebook mentions their constant HTTPS secure login (which should be internet standard, in my opinion, but too many sites are slow to adopt this practice), as well as their multiple step login process. When out and about I use the firefox plug in HTTPS Everywhere to make sure I’m logged in to every site I visit via HTTPS, so that’s a good thing, having an HTTPS protocol in play. As far as the two step log in (which I’ve dubbed multi step because of my experience with it), I think that will only frustrate users. I’ve been using that process for several weeks now, and mostly? I find it clunky and find that it doesn’t “take” on the first attempt -ever. Toss in the multiple emails I get when I log in on a new device, and I think users may be a bit annoyed by the process and freaked out by the emails.
I’d be interested to find out what others using the new security features over the last few weeks think about them, and to get your opinions on the safety videos and links.
For brands and agencies, Facebook has rolled out something they are calling Facebook Studio. At first glance, I’m not sure what building this layer for agencies and brands will actually do besides create yet another place online to have to track regularly. It purportedly is intended to encourage ideas through example and to help ideas gestate through a community of peers. Frankly, looking at the number of fellow agencies and marketers and brands in my profile friends list on Facebook and at the ease of access to people whose opinion I value on Twitter and via email, I’m not sure more touch points with like-careered folks were needed here. I am going to recommend using this with caution, and waiting until it proves out as useful before investing much of your premium time and attention here.
Brands and agencies, what do you think of having your own playground for ideas and possible test runs on Facebook?
Tonight’s episode of Topics on Fire will center around Government 2.0 and what it means for social media, technology and the nation under the new President-elect, Barack Obama. There are inherent legal and security concerns with Government 2.0 implementation and use, as well as issues with how to fit technology, social media and transparency into the existing sluggish bureaucratic structure.