Dear Facebook: I Like You But You’re Wrong

      

Dear Facebook,

I know that your philosophy is to get people to share more. You’ve done a great job of creating a platform that is designed to do that but you’ve stumbled a few times. Badly.

It’s your approach I don’t like.  It takes advantage of people who want to engage on Facebook by assuming they want a high level of sharing.  You take advantage of peoples’ inexperience with the complex privacy settings so that they accidentally share in ways they may not want to.

Remember Book Of The Month Club?  Those days are over. If you got suckered into joining by the load of free books up front, they automatically sent you a book every month and charged you for it.  That was a deal that members made with the devil for the goodies they got. This strategytakes advantage of the customer and “forces” them, by default, to be stuck with something they don’t want. You know, like giving up their privacy.

How about email newsletters? If I visit a website and take a free download, is it best practice to assume I also want your newsletter or to ask me if I want to subscribe?  Yes, I wanted something that you were offering at virtually no charge but automatically opting me in to your newsletter is not going to end well for anyone.  If I wasn’t interested in it, everyone is wasting their time. There are actually laws about assuming people want your newsletter.

The latest move is to assume that people want their images identified in any pictures that are uploaded by anyone onto Facebook. You’re taking the human decision to do that out of our hands by using a computer that can recognize faces.  And, you assume we want that.

The long term result of actions like these is more harmful to you than even potential legal actions to prevent you from doing this.  The long term result of this is loss of trust.

Please stop making us share and start asking us if it’s o.k. If you’ve ever had your mother read your diary or if you’ve ever had a friend tell someone a secret that you wanted them to keep, you’ll get it.  If people stop trusting you, they’ll stop liking you.

P.S. I wonder. If people stop trusting Facebook, what will happen to the equity that so many businesses have built in this platform? There really is a lot at stake here.

 

2 Responses to Dear Facebook: I Like You But You’re Wrong
  1. Jeremy
    June 20, 2011 | 11:11 am

    I completely share your sentiment. No doubt. But it’s naive at this point to think that Facebook won’t keep pushing the boundary farther and farther. It’s already a social network, on the interwebs, so a cry for privacy at this point is like a girl in a bikini telling a guy to stop looking at her curves. The fact of the matter is Facebook will continue to evolve, which means adding newer and newer tools and resources whether they really mean anything to anyone or not. It’s like when CNN had the hologram of Will.I.Am during the 2008 election night. Why? Because they can, and the gimmick may get a few more people to tune in, so why not? The second Facebook started displaying ads, it became a business, not just a social network. This means it has to compete in the marketplace. Sure, it’s Facebook, and it’s huge. But the second Zuckerberg and Co. start resting on their laurels, they’re out of jobs. So they have to keep pushing harder and harder, and if one way of doing that is with face recognition, then there it is. At this point, if you don’t want something Facebook is doing, disable your account. Otherwise, just be smart, and don’t get yourself in pictures you don’t want to be automatically tagged in!

    • Ilana
      June 20, 2011 | 12:56 pm

      Jeremy, thanks for your viewpoint and I totally agree that Facebook is a brilliant model for their own philosophy, which is “move fast and break things.” Here is the one area where I do have concern. You and I, as digital marketers, may be perfectly comfortable finding and adjusting the details of our Facebook privacy settings. But the very vast majority of average people using Facebook a) don’t know how to get into the very detailed and somewhat confusing settings and b) didn’t know that Facebook has a new tagging feature. They don’t read Mashable and don’t focus on things like this, and on top of that, are not really clear about the ramifications of it for them. If you don’t believe me, ask an aunt or a neighbor who is in an unrelated field about what this means for them and how to adjust their settings to deal with it.

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