Sunday, May 23, 2010

Four simple things that Facebook can do to regain its users' trust

There's no doubt that Facebook is in a "heap of trouble" due to changes in its privacy policies, but there are four simple things that the company can do to regain trust and help to prevent future flare-ups:
  1. The company has to stop assuming that "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine" when it comes to personal information. It has to stop making more and more of its members' information public.
  2. When the company introduces new features that will expose more personal information, it needs to make the announcement well ahead of implementation, and give its members an easy way to opt-out.
  3. There needs to be a way for members to say "I want my information to be made available to friends ONLY" without having to make dozens of selections. The current fine-grained controls are confusing and are leading members to deactivate their profiles or leave altogether for fear of missing some critical settings.
  4. Mark Zuckerberg needs to make a public statement that he and the company have heard the complaints, understands them and is taking action, now and in the future, to anticipate privacy issues and protect users' privacy.
Here's the downside: If Facebook does a "mea culpa" and then changes the rules again a few months from now, the company is likely not to survive the firestorm, at least in its current configuration.
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