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Facebook Scrambles after Unexpected Privacy Fumble 196

Posted by Zonk
from the doing-things-the-right-way-first dept.
bart_scriv writes "Facebook is responding to the recent uproar among its users by deploying better privacy protections and control, as well as being more open about future changes. This could be a case study for other social networking sites on how to avoid or deal with similar problems in the future." From the article: "A week before launch, when asked if he was concerned about a privacy backlash, he appeared surprised, saying, 'No, these people share stuff already and they get something out of sharing.' They've shared all right. And Facebook is listening. On Sept. 7, the site is ratcheting up privacy protections--the result of around-the-clock coding. On their privacy settings page, people will be given greater control over what items will or won't be included in news feeds." Relatedly, an anonymous reader writes "A recent Reuters article mentions that Facebook user Igor Hiller, 17, a freshman at University of California, Santa Barbara is organizing a real-world demonstration next Monday at Facebook's downtown Palo Alto headquarters." Read below for Zuckerman's Open Letter to the community.
theStorminMormon writes ""We really messed this one up." begins an open letter from Mark Zuckerberg to the Facebook community. The letter goes on to say: "When we launched News Feed and Mini-Feed we were trying to provide you with a stream of information about your social world. Instead, we did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them. I'd like to try to correct those errors now.

When I made Facebook two years ago my goal was to help people understand what was going on in their world a little better. I wanted to create an environment where people could share whatever information they wanted, but also have control over whom they shared that information with. I think a lot of the success we've seen is because of these basic principles.

We made the site so that all of our members are a part of smaller networks like schools, companies or regions, so you can only see the profiles of people who are in your networks and your friends. We did this to make sure you could share information with the people you care about. This is the same reason we have built extensive privacy settings — to give you even more control over who you share your information with.

Somehow we missed this point with Feed and we didn't build in the proper privacy controls right away. This was a big mistake on our part, and I'm sorry for it. But apologizing isn't enough. I wanted to make sure we did something about it, and quickly. So we have been coding nonstop for two days to get you better privacy controls. This new privacy page will allow you to choose which types of stories go into your Mini-Feed and your friends' News Feeds, and it also lists the type of actions Facebook will never let any other person know about. If you have more comments, please send them over.

This may sound silly, but I want to thank all of you who have written in and created groups and protested. Even though I wish I hadn't made so many of you angry, I am glad we got to hear you. And I am also glad that News Feed highlighted all these groups so people could find them and share their opinions with each other as well.

About a week ago I created a group called Free Flow of Information on the Internet, because that's what I believe in — helping people share information with the people they want to share it with. I'd encourage you to check it out to learn more about what guides those of us who make Facebook. Tomorrow at 4pm est, I will be in that group with a bunch of people from Facebook, and we would love to discuss all of this with you. It would be great to see you there.

Thanks for taking the time to read this,

Mark"
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Facebook Scrambles after Unexpected Privacy Fumble

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  • Boo-Hoo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by k_187 (61692) on Friday September 08, 2006 @10:31AM (#16066082) Journal
    if you don't want this information to be out there, don't put it on facebook. How did the news feed work any differently than the real-world gossip chain? I'm amazed that people are suprised that if I say I like johnny on facebook, other people can find out about it? Eh, maybe this will convince people that they shouldn't put their whole lives on internet.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      a) unlike most other features, there wasn't a way to turn this off - this has now been (partially) rectified and I for one am happy with the changes

      b) as has been pointed out numerous times before, there's a difference between publicly accessible and publicly announced
      • Re:Boo-Hoo (Score:4, Insightful)

        by walt-sjc (145127) on Friday September 08, 2006 @11:37AM (#16066615)
        as has been pointed out numerous times before, there's a difference between publicly accessible and publicly announced

        I really think many people don't really "get" the internet.

        There are these things called search engines and spiders out there that scrape information from public places constantly. It matters not what Facebook does or does not have for functionality. They are not the only gatherer and publisher of information on their site.

        If it's on the internet and publicly available, it's public. If you don't want something public, to everyone, forever, don't put it on the internet in a publicly available place. It really is that simple. Teens and other young adults frequently post wacky / private crap about themselves or their friends all the time. Do you REALLY want a future potential employer "Googling" you and finding all this stuff? How about a potential boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife? Hell, I can still find posts of mine from the late 80's via google - and google didn't even exist when I wrote them! I can also find via the internet archive copies of my web site from 7 years ago.

        You can't put something out there, publicly, and then scream when someone you don't want reading it, reads it. That's sheer stupidity. Publishing a blog or having conversations on social networking sites such as myspace / facebook in open forums is no different than publishing it in the New York Times or broadcasting on CNN. You have publicly announced the information. You like to THINK that you have a tight little private group, but that's just an illusion.
        • Re:Boo-Hoo (Score:5, Insightful)

          by eraser.cpp (711313) on Friday September 08, 2006 @12:23PM (#16067018) Homepage
          Why do people keep making this argument? It's completely irrelevant to the actual problem being voiced. This is not an issue of people posting information to facebook and expecting privacy, it's an issue of bad UI design where people are given every small action performed by their friends on the front page. Even worse, people tend to friend everybody they've ever talked to and wind up getting spoon fed more information than they care to know about those people.

          You're also wrong on a few counts, have you ever used facebook? The privacy controls severely limit the number of people able to view your profile. Google's crawlers won't be able to index this information unless the folks working for facebook open it up to them. The privacy controls are of course only as trustworthy as the people working for facebook, and also if you're friending everybody under the sun you have removed the ability of the privacy controls to help anyway.
          • by walt-sjc (145127)
            You are right on one aspect, I don't use facebook. On another, you are naive to the extreme if you think that ONLY people in your "private" circle of friends will ever see the stuff you write. Ever hear of cut and paste?
            • By your logic all privacy settings on websites/online networks are useless. Just because person A can relay a message to person B doesn't mean that I can't expect to be able to tell person A something in confidence without person B finding out. And it certainly doesn't mean that if I tell person A something, it's exactly the same as me telling both parties.

              Unless you associate with a bunch of sociopaths you can expect a certain level of common courtesy amongst your peers.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by nova_ostrich (774466)
              That's an issue with being able to trust your friends, not with Facebook.
          • by TubeSteak (669689)

            Google's crawlers won't be able to index this information unless the folks working for facebook open it up to them. The privacy controls are of course only as trustworthy as the people working for facebook, and also if you're friending everybody under the sun you have removed the ability of the privacy controls to help anyway.

            As an aside, it might be against Facebook's TOS for anyone to spider the site.

            Member Conduct [facebook.com]
            "you agree not to use automated scripts to collect information from the Service or the Web

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          You're ignoring that Google can't index Facebook profiles, and Facebooks own search engine obeys the privacy controls.

          In a way it's silly yes, but the fact that so many people felt so strongly does indicate that the way people treat and perceive networks is a more subtle thing than anybody thought. There is, in fact, a difference between broadcast and accessible in a few situations, and Facebook is one of them. It's the difference between telling everybody something and telling only those who ask. It's no

        • >You like to THINK that you have a tight little private group,
          >but that's just an illusion.

          An illusion that seems to pervade the lives of many young folk, even outside the Internet.

          More news flashes:

          * When you talk really loudly, *everyone* can overhear you, not just the cool kids that you want to overhear you.

          * When you wear that little thing (or maybe I should say "wear" that little thing), then even the nerdy and old guys will be able to see all the way to Christmas and halfway to the New Year, *no
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by thermostat42 (112272)
          I really think many people don't really "get" sociology.

          For many (most?) FB users this isn't about what information is strictly available. It about the social consturcts that govener when and where it is appropriate to use that information. Example: Your breakup causes you to change your "relationship status" from "in a relationship" to "single." Now, presumably your real friends know this without looking it up on facebook. People who are acquaintances (but "friends" on facebook) might not be aware until t
        • It matters not what Facebook does or does not have for functionality. They are not the only gatherer and publisher of information on their site.

          This is just manifestly false. It this were true there would be no RSS feeds. There's a difference between having to go out and find articles on X, and having articles on X delivered automatically. There's a difference between checking blog Y manually for updates, and having updates from blog Y sent to you. It's really basic. Call it "publish" vs. "broadcast",
    • While it's true that people shoudln't be putting private info online and expecting it to remain private, it's also true that those same dumb folk who do so are a part of facebook's community. There's nothing wrong with asking for changes to a service, and even less wrong with the people who provide that service changing it based on what their customers want. So people are dumb. Big deal. Facebook is listening to its customers.
    • Sad, really. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560)
      It's pretty sad that this sort of thing needs to be said, but it still needs to be said to a generation growing up in a world of Livejournals and Myspaces and Facebooks.

      It's a damn good thing the Web wasn't born yet when I was in school. If half the things I said and did in my youth were posted to the web, I'd probably never crawl out from under my rock. Hell, I'm still paranoid someone wil dig up the message bases from the old BBSes I used to frequent and say really stupid things on. :-P
      • Re:Sad, really. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@NosPAm.optonline.net> on Friday September 08, 2006 @11:10AM (#16066436) Journal
        It's pretty sad that this sort of thing needs to be said, but it still needs to be said to a generation growing up in a world of Livejournals and Myspaces and Facebooks.

        In the "good old days," all the people on your street used to know what you were up to. If you did something, the grapevine usually got that information to your folks before you got home. Of course it wasn't a perfect system and if you worked at it, you could hide your deeds from prying eyes (that's what tree forts were for).

        Now, people are actually writing down the things they're doing and placing that information where anyone on the planet can see it. It really should come as no shock now. Was Facebook wrong for not doing a better job of protecting privacy? Sure. Are people culpable if they're silly enough to put embarassing and/or potentially damaging information on the Internet? You bet. The fact is, the younger generations don't understand the whole "global neighborhood" concept and it taskes something like this to make them aware that something they think is local is most assuredly not.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rob T Firefly (844560)
          Exactly. And not only is it the global neighborhood concept, but there is the permanent record. Throw something online now, from a blog entry to a website to this Slashdot comment, and in 20 years it'll probably still be archived somewhere. Every Usenet post I've ever made is saved on Google groups. I'm in who knows how many IRC logs. Archive.org hosts a copy of my first website ever, but thankfully the embarassing background MIDIs no longer work. And anyone can easily rustle it all up if they want to
        • Of course it wasn't a perfect system and if you worked at it, you could hide your deeds from prying eyes (that's what tree forts were for).
          i always wondered what those were for. i thought it was to provide cover from the incoming fire of the children of oppressive foreign dictators, but all this time it was as simple as "what happens in tree fort stays in tree fort"
    • Re:Boo-Hoo (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BecomingLumberg (949374) on Friday September 08, 2006 @10:48AM (#16066243)
      Its not the fact that they can see it, it is the fact that it is *broadcast* that makes it bad. I don't care that people I know find out that I break up with a girl, but I don't want it to be sent RSS style to everyone I know. They will find out in time, but preferably not all the next time they log to facebook. The old way, sure you were posting it on the internet, but there was a certain anonymnity to be found in the data overload of facebook. Now that changes are highlighted, its too easy.

      Also, others are allowed to submit content to your page (like to my wall). If they do, I may want time to respond to it before all of my friends read it. Sure, the old way one or two might see it, but that risk is low.

      This funtionality, if cut back, would be very useful. A notification of when friends put up new pictures would be great. Some things should be exempt from the feed, or at least have the option to have them never broadcast, so that they can fly 'under the radar'.

      • A mini-feed program (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JimBobJoe (2758) <swiftheart@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Friday September 08, 2006 @11:22AM (#16066501)
        The old way, sure you were posting it on the internet, but there was a certain anonymnity to be found in the data overload of facebook.

        There was a website at one time that plugged into myspace to deliver a semi-similar feed. It watched the profiles of all your friends (or people you wanted "watched") and if their relationship status flipped to single you'd get an email.

        I thought it was a brillant concept. (I believe it was shut down because the way it interacted with myspace violated that site's terms of agreement.)

        What would it take for me to design and distribute a program that you can install on your own computer to do the same thing? (I figure if it interacted with facebook or myspace in a low key way, and basically surfed your friend's profiles as if you were doing it from your own computer, it might just pass TOA muster.)

        It could do a a semi-regular feed of all your friend's walls. It could collect all the pictures from their profiles and put them into a nifty slideshow. It could surf all the profile's friends ad nauseum and create a neural network of the way people have friended each other which you could probably do something really nifty with.
        • by TubeSteak (669689)
          Do you really comprehend what you're proposing?
          Recreating that feed using a 3-rd party tool is not a trivial task.
          • Here's a list of items you can see from the feed:
            Add/Remove Profile Info
            Write a Wall Post
            Comment on a Note
            Comment on a Photo
            Post on a Discussion Board
            Add a Friend
            Add/Remove my Relationship Status
            Add/Leave a Group
            Add/Leave a Network

          The Feed gathered all that infor

          • by L7_ (645377)
            and they even thumbnail the pictures that people added. >:)

            first time I've logged into facebook in a while, its a breath of fresh air from myspace (which I logged into last month).
        • Facebook has an API you can plug in to that allows you to do all of that. Per account there is also a privacy setting to turn off access to your profile from third party web apps, but it's fairly obscure in the privacy settings and I don't think many people have turned it off.
      • The old way, sure you were posting it on the internet, but there was a certain anonymnity to be found in the data overload of facebook.

        I thought that most people on slashdot did not believe in security through obscurity. If you want to keep your information secure, then secure it, don't count on the "data overload" to protect you.
        • I dont care about the information being secure. I just don't want *everything* broadcast.

          Consider: You get wedding announcements. Ever get a divorce announcement? No. The two involved don't care if you find out (normally) but do not go around flaunting it (if they have class).

          I don't see this as a security issue, as i really don't care if everyone on Earth knows that I french kissed Kelly Kapowski. I just want to be able to pick and choose what gets sent to everyone.

      • Its not the fact that they can see it, it is the fact that it is *broadcast* that makes it bad.

        What part of "publishing on the internet" is not broadcasting information?

        I don't care that people I know find out that I break up with a girl, but I don't want it to be sent RSS style to everyone I know.

        Well, then you better not publish it on the internet.

        The old way, sure you were posting it on the internet, but there was a certain anonymnity to be found in the data overload of facebook. Now that changes are hig

    • Re:Boo-Hoo (Score:5, Insightful)

      by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormon@NosPam.gmail.com> on Friday September 08, 2006 @10:50AM (#16066257) Homepage Journal
      Why is this insightful? It's not. Do we really have to go around this circle again? How information is accessible is sometimes just important as what information is accessible.

      No one previously thought that information they posted on Facebook anywhere was private (at least, from their friends). But now it is being aggregated and broadcast to every friend. If you think this is the same thing, then I suppose you also think that Google making the full-text of every book available on line is the same thing, whether they do it (as they are doing it) by allowing you to see only a snippet at time or whether they allow you to download the whole thing as a text file. The information available in either scenario is exactly the same, but based purely on how easy it is to get at that publicly available info one is fair use and the other is not.

      It's just a simple fact, even IF information is public accessible, it still matters how accessible. Stop acting as though privacy is a binary proposition: either top-secret or totally-public with no differences in between. Facebook users are not posting info on the Net and getting annoyed that people aggregate it (which would be annoying but fair) they have joined a private networking group and then the rule's of that networking group got changed and it made a lot of them mad. Nothing private was revealed, but information that would have taken hours to aggregate every single day was suddenly available with 0 effort. That is a change, and not everyone has to be happy about it.

      I say "them" because I didn't mind the changes. Now that the new privacy features have been changed, there's pretty much nothing left to talk about. The only complaint Facebook users have left is that the Feed disrupts the layout and (apparently) there's no way to turn it off by default so that you never even see it.

      But considering how incredibly fast Mark and Facebook were to implement the needed privacy controls, I'm sure that this too will be available soon in the future. If only every company was as agile and quick to respond to its customers demands...

      -stormin
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thelost (808451)
      this is hardly insightful. facebook is a closed community and as such there are certain requirements to joining it, such as already being part of a given community. There is also an expected certain level of privacy, as is explained in the letter written by Mark Zuckerberg.

      If a site advertises a certain level of privacy and fails to provide it, that's bad, but it's something the guys at facebook are trying to fix. However you cannot simply say "boohoo you put your info on the net, suck it down". These peopl
    • by Andy Dodd (701)
      More importantly, don't add people to your friends list you don't want to be able to see such news.

      I laughed when I saw all the "Get rid of the new stalker tool" groups. Um, only people on your friends list get your news items. By joining those groups claiming the news feed was a "stalker tool", people readily said, "I added my stalkers to my friends list to artificially inflate my friend count." Way to go!

      For every person angry about the news feed that blew it WAY out of proportion, there are ten people
      • by Tweekster (949766)
        Pretty much hit the nail on the head.

        I just found the feature to be really really stupid. I dont care that my friend added a favorite book to their list...
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by be-fan (61476)
      I think it just confirms what we all knew. At least 99% of Facebook users are idiots, and the other 1% are there because some of the 99% made them...
    • Eh, maybe this will convince people that they shouldn't put their whole lives on internet.

      I can't disagree, but, at the moment, it's a fascinating experiment in human psychology (vis a vis people's understanding of privacy and their preferences for it.)

      Perceptions plays an enormous role in social networking. Facebook's little institutional net may have felt safer, but I thought it was intolerably anti-privacy, and it's user agreement is worse than Myspace's.

      It actually seemed that most people can articulate
  • A demonstration? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Friday September 08, 2006 @10:33AM (#16066100)
    A Demonstration!? Before you start screaming and harrassing a company, maybe, just maybe, you should give them some time to respond. In this case, the company has responded in record time and it still wasn't enough to stop this radical from freaking out. Nothing shouts 'unstable' like organizing protests at the drop of a hat.
    • by Enoxice (993945)
      My thoughts exactly. I think they've done an excellent job in their response so far. The only other feature I want is the ability to turn off the newsfeed on my homepage. I don't care if other people have it or can see my information/actions, but it's cluttering up my screen and I don't like it.

      Interesting that people believe a protest outside of the headquarters of a website that implemented an unpopular feature is a rational reaction. I mean, they haven't done anything to hurt anyone or anything illega
    • In my own experience, Facebook has had the best response times of any major website. All of their features just plain work. The record time for a Microsoft patch [slashdot.org] is three days. Facebook implemented this change in less than a week, which is pretty fast. Facebook has also never spread adware [slashdot.org] through its homespage like MySpace did.

      While I did not like the Facebook feed, I was always confident that they would intriduce some privacy measures. That is just the level of trust that they have established.

      • by Otter (3800)
        The record time for a Microsoft patch is three days.

        This seems to have gone over everyone's head on that story, but the reference to 'Quickest Patch Ever' was meant to be facetious, not a precise factual statement about Microsoft's entire history of patch issuance.

    • by ResidntGeek (772730) on Friday September 08, 2006 @10:42AM (#16066188) Journal
      And another thing: why the hell does it take two days for college students to organize a protest about Facebook making already-public information easier to access (OMGNO!!!), when they don't seem to do shit about secret prisons, torture, and other problems of large-scale government?
      • by AceCaseOR (594637)
        What state are you in? In Oregon we've had a lot of college student protests over the summer about the war in Iraq and other, important, issues.
        • I just moved out of Florida, and I'm now in North Carolina. In Florida, I knew maybe 5 people who cared about things other than how many brain cells they were going to kill each weekend, and here I know none so far.
      • Because a protest has a much more obvious and immediate effect on a small company (accountable to the market), than a protest has on an government that acts as if it's accountable to no-one.
    • Nothing shouts 'unstable' like organizing protests at the drop of a hat.

      I hate to sound like a patriotic tool ... but it was demonstrations that built America. It was the right to protest at the drop of a hat that made it so appealing. The fact that more people don't take to the streets when anything goes wrong in the government upsets me. We've really forgotten why this country was built and why so many millions gave their lives. We've taken for granted the right to protest and ignored it.

      You're

    • What do you expect from college kids?

      Imagine if they viewed MS the way they view Facebook... I'd hate to be in Redmond in the days after Vista rolled out.

      "WHAT!? YOU'RE MISSING A DRIVER!?? PROTEST TIME!!! "

      -stormin
  • Oh FFS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goldcd (587052) on Friday September 08, 2006 @10:35AM (#16066124) Homepage
    " Igor Hiller, 17, a freshman at University of California, Santa Barbara is organizing a real-world demonstration next Monday at Facebook's downtown Palo Alto headquarters."

    Has he really nothing better to do with his time? If you don't like facebook, just trash your account and leave.
    Find something worthwhile to get upset about.
    • by Otter (3800)
      Has he really nothing better to do with his time?

      Seriously -- one has to wonder how much someone spending his first week of college (UCSB, no less!) driving hundreds of miles to protest Facebook over this needs Facebook in the first place.

      If anything, I'm pretty impressed with how well the company has handled this.

      • 1) I am on Facebook. 2) I have no friends. 3) I want some Facebook people to put as my Facebook friends. Facebook protest probably isn't too bad a place to try - would all have been a lot simpler if his mum had just breast-fed the retard.
    • by RyoShin (610051)
      Jumping ship is the worst way to deal with a situation. Sure, you personally might benefit with not having to deal with the problem, but the problem remains and won't get any better just because you're there.

      If everyone held up the notion of jumping ship when things got too hot, there would eventually be no ship to jump to, because they would all sink. A lot of people think that the current political and economic situation in the U.S. sucks, but if we just jumped ship to Canada or Europe, we'd eventually ha
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SydBarrett (65592)
      I can just imagine this "demonstration". A bunch of guys just standing around fiddling with their blackberries and cell phones while avoiding eye contact.

      Maybe someone should show up and hand out these fine products: http://www.cafepress.com/ebrushdesign/1727415 [cafepress.com]
    • by emkman (467368)
      Since you obviously don't go to UCSB, let me clue you in on two things.
      1st - Facebook has already become a huge part of the social interacion of students here in the 1 year or so we have had it. Every few days we get notified by friends about upcoming parties and concerts, and it is an easy way to share pictures of say, our GIANT halloween celebration. I use my account alot, and I refuse to use MySpace(even pre-News Corp).
      2nd - When you are a freshman, you really do have alot of time on your hands.
      3rd - We
    • "No one likes having their every move watched," said Igor Hiller, 17, a recent high school graduate from Palo Alto, California. "Me and my friends are just feeling really creeped out. It's Big Brotherish."

      I hope he carries a protest sign that says "Dude, I'm Like Totally Creeped Out."
  • After the almost instantaneous uproard over news feed, why did Facebook not take care of the privacy issues right away and revert to the pre-newsfeed code? Instead, they waited three days to plug this massive breach of privacy. I believe that the facebook creators need to be held accountable for this delay.

    Also, the fix code was so hastily put together, several of my "home page" links and the "My Groups" link in the menu don't work anymore. Anyone else having these problems?

    • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Friday September 08, 2006 @10:42AM (#16066182)
      "Held accountable?" For what damages, exactly? For god's sake, we're not talking about a bank's website. All we're talking about is a way for people to slightly more easily discover information that was already public. You should be happy they responded as quickly as they did.

      "Massive breach of privacy" my ass.
      • There are ways to hold someone accountable other than monetary damages. I was thinking more along the lines of more extensive testing of new features (open beta period), and at the very least more communication between the developers and the users. Sure, there's a facebook blog, but it's not linked from anywhere I can see on the main page, and the blog isn't frequently updated at all. And as it's been mentioned repeatedly before, there's a difference between public information and broadcasted information.
        • There's a difference between walking by a pile of shit and having a pile of shit dropped in front of you.

          I suppose. But from where I'm viewing this, this is more a matter of people having jumped into a pile of shit months ago and only now wondering why they're starting to stink.

          Let's review the Rules for Living in a Networked World:

          1. Don't put anything in an e-mail that you wouldn't want your boss, your wife, your child, or the Attorney General's Office to read.

          2. Don't put anything on a website linked to
          • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Friday September 08, 2006 @11:21AM (#16066488)
            Nothing you write about yourself in your blog will seem as clever, funny, and/or meaningful at age 35 as it did at age 22, and it's not because you have lost your sense of humor or appreciation for art and philosophy. And unless you plan a career as a full-time Ren Faire professional, stay away from the "Fan Fiction" completely.

            Happy to Help.
            • full-time Ren Faire professional

              Not that there's anything wrong with, I hasten to add.



              kk, done now.

            • by grappler (14976)

              Nothing you write about yourself in your blog will seem as clever, funny, and/or meaningful at age 35 as it did at age 22, and it's not because you have lost your sense of humor or appreciation for art and philosophy.

              Agreed. When I was between 20 and 22 or so I wrote some stuff in a few posts to usenet, using my real name. Not that there's a lot of dirt there, but I shared more than I would have cared to. At that time one probably would have had to go to DejaNews to find it. Of course DejaNews is now Google

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by walt-sjc (145127)
            It's too bad most young people have such a hard time figuring this out, or accepting these facts.

            While facebook proclaims "closed" networks, being "closed" doesn't help when your info gets copied and pasted, and sent around to others outside your "closed network". The reality is that it's not as private as people would like to believe. In fact, it's not private at all.
    • Instead, they waited three days to plug this massive breach of privacy.

      OK, I get really annoyed at the stupid people who can't tell the difference between making information available and delivering it to you all collated and sorted. Clearly how you present the information matters. But to call the Feeds a "massive breach of privacy" is really silly. Every single thing the Feeds announced was information already available to everyone that got the Feed. How is this a "massive" breach?

      Massive breaches are when companies lose millions of social security numbers or credit card numbers. You seriously are crazy if you think just broadcasting to a group of friends whom you have already selected to see the information is really that horrible of a deal.

      So for 3 days people had an easier time tracking your wall posts. Was it really so traumatic for you?

      -stormin
    • Facebook is gladly refunding all the fees you paid to them, plus interest. The check is in the email.

      You really don't have a leg to stand on when complaining about a free service. Read their policies - if you don't agree, don't sign up.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sasdrtx (914842)
      Good point - they should have. Not that it's much of a privacy issue, just a customer disatisfaction issue.

      Since they didn't (back out the change), and they obviously still don't understand their business, what you and every other annoyed facebook user needs to do is delete your account.

      Once facebook is out of business, smarter people will create better systems.
  • it was just stupid. You basically had this screen of irrelevant information that was frequently updated...

    seriously I dont care that someone I know added "V For Vendetta" to their favorite movies list.

    I dont get the big privacy issue, it was just a lame annoying feature to begin with
    • Actually it was useful, as you could use it to see the names of the Anti-Facebook News Feed groups everyone was joining. ;)
  • I didn't know about this until I saw the slashdot article. I don't check facebook that often. Suddenly all sorts of events about what I've done, and what my friends have been doing, are visible. That's nice if you wanted it that way, but I didn't.

    They added a new feature. They now have a "privacy" control which lets you select what is shown about you and your goings on and what is not shown. And the defaults, for someone who didn't even know about this, are to show everything.

    This may end up being a nic
  • by stevemm81 (203868) on Friday September 08, 2006 @10:42AM (#16066180) Homepage
    I just wish you could turn the feed off altogether - I miss the old, uncluttered homepage. I'm not that concerned about my privacy; as someone said earlier, if I wanted things to be private from my Facebook friends I wouldn't post them on Facebook.

    They've managed to turn one of the more attractive looking pages on the Internet into an ugly mess cluttered with useless information about my friends joining groups I've never heard of, etc. I think they should either eliminate the feeds altogether or put them on a separate page.
    • by natrius (642724)
      I just wish you could turn the feed off altogether - I miss the old, uncluttered homepage.

      There was pretty much no information on the home page before. Why exactly is that desirable? Why does it matter if the page is "one of the more attractive pages on the Internet"? Personally, I never spent more then two seconds on the old home page. I was either on my way to my profile, or on the way to my list of friends to see who had updated recently. Now the home page is actually useful, and that's a problem some
  • No way! The bookstore isn't that big.
  • by usacomp2k3 (972768) on Friday September 08, 2006 @10:50AM (#16066261)
    Is that it puts all your friends on the same level. I don't care about what happened to most of the people that are my 'friends'. If I wanted to know about them specifically, I can look at their page. What would be better would be to have a list of 'close friends' or something like that that you can add to a feed and only get reports from those few people. Also, a 'opt-out' check box in the privacy settings would be nice. Or, as another comment said, it should be an 'opt-in' feature in the first place from a security setting.
    • What would be better would be to have a list of 'close friends' or something like that that you can add to a feed and only get reports from those few people

      Good idea about keeping your friends close, but even better if you can keep your enemies even closer: have every action they perform highlighted in red, and a little graph that shows exactly when they must have been up, in order to make that change. Also, intelligent aggregation should keep a tally of each time they report about having done the same thi

  • by Finnegar (918643) on Friday September 08, 2006 @10:52AM (#16066278)
    While I like that Facebook has made changes in responce to user demand (the largest protest group reached over 700,000 members, even though I don't think it would have reached that WITHOUT the help of the feeds...*grumble*), I still don't see why there was a demand in the first place.

    NOTHING on your feed was something that someone couldn't have seen otherwise. In fact, there are many things that were specificly excluded, such as pokes, messages, things you rejected, and (most importantly) photos you deleted.

    While it'd be good to be able to turn the thing off if you really don't like it (and that's what the protesters are still pushing for), I actually like the change. Instead of taking a look at profiles and guessing as to who has changed what, I can see everything in a single place.

    I expect that in a few months this will be forgotten or considered overblown. Facebook has made something convenient, not malicious.
    • There really are some issues that the feed highlights. For example, messages about when people enter and leave relationships. This isn't the kind of information people want blasted around, but have no problem letting people know. It's simply something most people wouldn't notice, but now know the minute someone de-relationships someone on Facebook. The information that once had to be shopped around for is now readily available right on the front page. You can't miss it even if you try. For the last few days

    • by izomiac (815208)
      While I like the feature, I do have a rather small friend list and am careful with what I post. Before now there wasn't really any downside to making someone a friend on facebook. Sure, they could see your profile, but it was in its entirety and if they also have several hundred friends then they probably wouldn't notice if you made a change. Now, people are (subconsiously) realizing that it's generally a bad idea to post private information to a public website and to explicitly allow hundreds of people
    • by FleaPlus (6935) *
      NOTHING on your feed was something that someone couldn't have seen otherwise.

      No kidding. Facebook basically just replicated the functionality of the Facebook Stalker [fbstalker.com] firefox extension. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm guesing FB Stalker's functionality still works.
  • About a week ago I created a group called Free Flow of Information on the Internet, because that's what I believe in
    He should have named it "Free Information Flow on the Internet", or "FIFI" for short.
  • The whole appeal of facebook was that it selectively disseminated information. People put things up because of its limitations. The newsfeed essentially shifted facebook away from the model that made it popular. People were upset because they liked the idea behind the original facebook, and for a bit it appeared that the most popular implementation of that idea was gone.
  • The real problem (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fletchnuts (995269)
    The real problem with the news feed is that it assumes that the relationships on facebook are something more than status points. There are of course real genuine friends on facebook and there's no doubt that those people who are real friends wouldn't mind having their other real friends know what they've been up to. The problem is that so many people have 500 some odd friends (people you met at a party one night after downing six glasses of jack in 15 minutes, or some random guy from your class) and there's
    • by Darthmalt (775250)
      Exactly. And before people start in on the if you don't know them why don't you delete them shpiel. Facebook has been a godsend to student filmmakers like me. It's a quick and easy way to contact people and send mass mesaages about meeting and shooting times. It's also great for group projects just add every one on facebook tag them in a note and voila instant discussion board to review a paper or script.

      shameless filmgroup plug Chamber 525 [notlong.com]
  • Call me a cynic, but I think this was a brilliant move on Facebook's part. Look at all the free publicity they are getting.

    I would not be surprised at all if this guy Hiller turned out to be on the payroll of Facebook (either now, or some day in the future).

  • I have made a way to use cross-site-scripting to improve privacy on Facebook: clear your newsfeed [mchsi.com] (you must be logged into Facebook)
  • ...well I, for one, welcome our new facebook overlords.




  • I went onto Facebook this morning, read the open note, started to be happier ... then hit the privacy page, and was horrified.

    Facebook has done exactly what Microsoft tries to do. They take a list ("don't tell people when my relationship status changes", "don't tell people when I leave a group", "don't tell people when I change an interest") and fix that list. Remind anyone of how Microsoft complied with an antitrust ruling about bundling IE and "fixed" it by shipping a tool that lets you change your de

  • To put in a "don't broadcast my actions" checkbox, and a bit of support code, to, well, not do that? Shouldn't be that major of an effort, although maybe their code is ugly, who knows...
  • I simply cannot understand what Slashdotters have against Facebook. If this were a discussion about aggregating any other kind of publically-available personal information and streaming it out to people, Slashdotters would be up in arms.

    I don't want all of my friends and family being told when I go to the grocery store, or who I'm hanging out with at any given moment, or what my new driver's license number is, or what time I got to work today. There is tons of information about ourselves that is, by natur
  • by OO7david (159677) on Friday September 08, 2006 @01:38PM (#16067601) Homepage Journal
    All I've been reading on /. is such memes as "if you don't want it public, don't put it up there", and yes that is completely true, and for many people that is the case. However I think the largest complaint is not about privacy, but just framed in those words.

    Consider being at a restaraunt with a friend. You are at a public place, and so you really have no expectation of privacy. Now, do you expect everyone there to know about your conversation? Its not an issue of privacy because you aren't in a private place, but at the same time there is an expectation of exclusivity. If I'm talking with a friend in a public place, yes, people can eavesdrop, but I don't expect it.

    The problem with the newsfeed wasn't that it was a violation of privacy, but rather that it globalized eavesdropping (per analogy). If someone wrote on the wall, that is something between them, much like the conversation in the restaraunt.
  • The Facebook people, the facebook users, all of them totally acting clueless.

    Welcome to the internet kids. It's PUBLIC if you put it up. Welcome to the real world Facebook, stalkers exist and people care about it - don't make it easier. Grow up all of you, oh wait, you're kids :)

    In other news, Igor isn't going to be home at 4pm.

    Flame-proof suit on ;)

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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