Every person who writes a blog shares a common understanding. Our audience is likely stopping by for a short time between visits to Facebook. The social media giant’s dominance in the lives of individuals of all ages has generated a seemingly endless stream of articles and commentary. One of the most common topics to arise about the site is the way Facebook (and social media in general) have eroded the standards of privacy. While often ascribed to the youngest group of users, the inability to fully comprehend the very public nature of social media continues to plague users at all levels. The fear-mongering elements of traditional media attempt to play up this misunderstanding with stories of robberies that occurred because thieves used Facebook to determine when homeowners were away.
I read a great Epicenter blog post (provided by our friends at WIRED magazine) about the privacy issues currently faced by Facebook. Ryan Singel, author of the post, makes some interesting arguments about the need to replace the social media powerhouse with something more open and distributed. He focuses on the desire for users to be able to exercise greater control of their privacy settings. He even goes so far as to point out companies that ran afoul of Facebook when they attempted to modify the user’s ability to control his or her privacy.
After reading the Epicenter blog, I was reminded of something Adam L. Penenberg mentioned in his book Viral Loop, a title that Soundview recently summarized. Penenberg noted that companies who experience the incredible burst of growth provided by viral loops have unique growing pains not experienced in traditional industries. The privacy problems that are currently rumbling beneath the surface among a select group of Facebook users are an excellent example of how viral growth creates its own issues.
Do you care about the data that Facebook makes public? Let me know your thoughts.