The Social Web Walks a Fine Line

There is more drama taking place on Techmeme today but surprisingly it is not about Facebook. The drama began with a posting on Slashdot in which countless complaints about Google reader’s new shared feature have been posted. These complaints are practically identical to those being heard when Facebook launched Beacon. As Robert Scoble points out, the solution is simple: Granular Privacy Controls.

All social sites must now introduce granular privacy controls that enable users to both opt-in and opt-out of social services. Additionally, privacy settings must be available on a contact by contact basis. Facebook now provides these features and soon enough you will be able to modify your profile for each contact group. While not all the features are required, basic privacy settings definitely are.

If Google is going to succeed with their OpenSocial project, they will need to rapidly adapt and make changes. Users are forgiving so long as you make the necessary changes immediately. Otherwise, your users will leave and never look back. This time around I think that Google deserves a get out of jail free card but they won’t be receiving such gracious givings in the future. Just as Facebook has made their mistakes in navigating the social web, so will Google.

Google needs to be even more careful though given their massive user base. Integrating email with other features is also a risky game. It appears that even Google is willing to take a few more risks to try and make things just a little more social for us all.