Wednesday, June 16, 2010

mark zuckerberg, privacy, and default behaviour

a while back graham cluley had some choice words about how facebook founder mark zuckerberg has shaped the privacy paradigm at the social networking site.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, says that most people want to share.
If he really really believes that, then why doesn't he give those users the ability to "opt-in" to share their personal data rather than force people to "opt-out"? After all, if he's right then that business model would work just fine.
now graham used to make software, once upon a time, and i wonder how long it's been since he's done so.

zuckerberg's stated belief that most people want to share is completely compatible with an opt-out privacy paradigm. don't make things too difficult or too much work. if most people want X then give them X by default, don't make them jump through hoops to get it. even if X is sharing.

that being said, i personally would prefer opt-in over opt-out and if you look at zuckerberg's own facebook profile you might be mistaken for thinking he'd prefer that too - his stated belief that most people want to share appears to be hypocrisy because he certainly does not share very much. granted his date of birth and hometown are up there, but if you're looking for anything truly personal the best you'll get are a list of "like"s (including himself, so i guess he's sharing a bit of narcissism). does zuckerberg think he's somehow different from the average person? does he not believe in eating his own dog food? no one wants to share willy-nilly, everyone is at least somewhat selective about what they share and with whom. facebook's privacy defaults should be designed with that in mind.