Facebook's Push To Make You More Transparent

-Transparent Man-Did you read the fine print when you went through the new Facebook privacy transition process? Many users didn’t and the result is that much of their data is now publicly available. After making further adjustments to the new Facebook privacy settings, it appears that most users have adapted to the new settings. So far, most users stand in two camps: those who don’t care and those who hate it.

Facebook Takes Two Steps Forward

Facebook is known for always asking for more from users than they want. The result is that after the vocal minority gets up in arms about new changes, Facebook can make adjustments which are publicly viewed as “concessions” to a certain extent. The most recent concession by Facebook was the addition of a new checkbox in your profile which lets you prevent having your friend list publicly viewable.

Millions of users are now sharing their status updates whether they know it or not and that means more data for Microsoft and Google, as Julia Angwin points out. It will also mean more information for developers if Facebook eventually opens their Search API, something which I suggested earlier this week was the last stage of Facebook’s twitterfication.

Facebook’s Philosophical Shift

Some of the best known internet celebrities are popular because of their transparency. Transparency is a philosophy which every social media advocate preaches. However transparency used to be a choice for most internet users and Facebook was a haven for many who wanted to keep their information private. While Facebook users can still keep their profiles relatively private, Facebook is pushing users to open up.

What’s strange about this shift is that Facebook is hailing it as “the way the world is going”. Yes, the world has become more transparent, however users that don’t understand their privacy settings could now be sharing extremely personal data for the rest of the world to see. Perhaps we should just accept it as it is and stop sharing things we don’t want the world to see.

While I’ve always been a supporter of transparency, I also gained some comfort in knowing that I wasn’t being pushed to open up, it was a completely voluntary action.