More Facebook Fallout

[Edit: A sample of the growing Facebook backlash from across the web.]

I recently wrote about the backlash against Facebook for the increased loosening of their privacy controls.  Between that, their arbitrary movement of your profile information to suit their needs, security holes in their chat and Instant Personalization program and the increased whispers about the ethics of Facebook's founder, the site is facing perhaps the biggest backlash in its short history.  (It's pretty rich irony that a site that defines social networking could suffer at the hands of its own users talking about it on blogs, Twitter feeds and on the Facebook site itself!)

The best summary I've seen so far of why this loosening of Facebook privacy standards should be of concern to people is an infographic called “The Evolution of Facebook on Privacy” (probably better titled “The Devolution of Privacy on Facebook”) which I found on Reddit.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a text-based timeline of this same information. 

As scary as this increased openness is (to try it, log-out of Facebook then, before logging back in, try searching for yourself or going to the domain you probably registered for yourself – www.facebook.com/headtale in my case – to get a sense of what anyone surfing the web can see about you now.)

But just as IBM was supplanted by Microsoft who were, in turn, supplanted by Google who are now threatened by Facebook's attempts to become the dominant technology company in the world, there is always the promise of something coming along to replace the current leader – or at least provide an alternative. 

In this case, it might be an an open-source, decentralized social network called Diaspora.

“The Diaspora* group was inspired to begin their project after hearing a talk by Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia University, who described the
centralized social networks as “spying for free,” Mr. Salzberg said.”


The New York Times profiles the Diaspora idea and Wired has an article titled “Facebook Has Gone Rouge – It's Time for An Open Source Alternative” (but with an unfortunately placed Facebook “Like” button at the bottom of the article – which is it, Wired??? )

What this all means remains to be seen but with even high-level
politicians
beginning to pay attention to Facebook's activities, there's a definite sense that this is something big. 

It could lead to a big backlash and a mass migration to a new service (anybody use MySpace anymore?  Friendster?  Did anybody ever use Classmates.com?)  Or it could be status quo as the majority of Facebook's 500 million members – the non-techy moms and grandpas stay there, happily playing Farmville and not realising the possible implications of Facebook's increasing commodification of their information (and I write that, not truly understanding the implications myself!)

But I think I will go scrub my profile a bit.  I'll apparently still get targeted ads based on the info I provided in the past – even after deleting it.  But it will hopefully send a small message.

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