PrivacyLevel “I can’t get into social media, it’s too public – I do not want someone knowing everything about me!”  This is a popular objection for individuals and business looking into social media. 

In my opinion, privacy concerns in the US are way over-rated.  I get a sense that people are somehow expecting some degree of privacy online, but when back as far as 1999 Scott McNealy as CEO of Sun Microsystems was quoted by PC Week as saying, "You have zero privacy now, get over it", and that was back in 1999 – what do you think the environment is like now?  Privacy on the web is like looking for Hens teeth – they / it does not exist.

Moving past the implied lack of privacy on the web, you need to know that there are often excellent privacy controls already in place in most every social networks, Facebook is continuing to to enhance and simplify the process that allows you to determine just who gets to see what on your Facebook page.

Facebook is by far the most popular social network on the planet with over 350,000,000 users.  This kind of presence provides a unique opportunity for the people behind Facebook.  They can act like bullies and demand people comply with their policies and procedures, they can be benevolent dictators that establish policy and procedures they think best suit their audience or they can recognize that leadership is not something that is taken from people, it is given by people to the brands and people they trust.


facebook-logo Facebook is a social media property, it is very visible and it was established as a way to openly connect people.  Their initial audience was college students, but the ability to connect people was opened up to a broader audience and the audience responded, producing the behemoth in social media networking sites we have today.

I admire Mark Zuckerman and his team.  They way they’ve showed up, the apparent openness in which they conduct their business, the way they acknowledge their mistakes and resolve issues gives me a sense that they really get what it means to be THE social connector on the planet and they accept the responsibility that goes along with the task.

The announced changes Mark presented December 1st are coming to pass and today they provided some detail on how the changes are being implemented.  They also provided a neat little video on what it will all look like too.  Here is a quick rundown of what I see happening –

  • You’ll be asked directly to review your Privacy Settings – I checked mine today while I had the time, anticipating the request.
  • You’ll be provided with three basic levels of privacy: Friends, Friends of Friends and Everyone.  Which can be modified as you wish, excluding specific people as needed (I have one person on my list, you may have none or many – isn’t that what personalization is all about!)
  • You’ll get a level of privacy control that extends down to each picture and post – potential employers need never see the beer-bong picture, if you do not want them to

What You Should Do Next – 1) Expect that nothing you do on the web is private, ever 2) Review and adjust (if needed) your settings on Facebook in a way that suits you and how you wish to be presented and 3) be open to using the online social networking tools to find and meet people off line.  For all that the online / virtual presence can do for us, it’s the connections in real life that matter most.

What is the Impact on Businesses? – None.  A business enterprise would typically WANT to be found more easily on the web.  I do not see any clear impact on a social media presence for a business in this announcement.

Image courtesy of rpongsaj on Flickr