Archives for posts with tag: privacy

I can’t find a logical reason to switch to Google+. I’ve heard all the arguments for Circles, and I’m telling you, they’re not a Facebook killer. Despite having a better UI than Facebook lists, they are just as much mental work to create and use. They require thought where Facebook has shown simplicity wins out, and they fail to solve the problems their proponents think they do.

About a year ago I went through all my Facebook friends and deleted anyone I wouldn’t stop to talk to on the street. I put the remaining friends in lists according to how I knew them or where they lived. Though this was a process (and Facebook has made it easier since then), it is simple to maintain and makes me feel I have full control over how I share online.


The thing is, I almost never use these lists. It’s rare that I want to post something on Facebook that I wouldn’t want all of my friends to see. Though I’m confident I could post photos my family wouldn’t see or say something my coworkers couldn’t read, I haven’t found a need.

The ultimate privacy setting is, of course, your own discretion. All the lists and circles in the world won’t protect you if you’re adding people you can’t trust or sharing items you really don’t want certain people to know about.

The other side of the pro-Circles movement is less about privacy and more about filtering noise. Some say they like Google+ Circles because they can share selectively with their work friends, tech friends, basketball friends, foodie friends, etc. They don’t want to bother the techies with the food photos or the basketball friends with work talk.

Though this makes sense in real life, it doesn’t work online. We share online because we want to be recognized. Why would we limit our reach? I love when someone I haven’t talked to in a while likes my Facebook photo, or when someone I wouldn’t have thought would have been interested in something comments on a link I shared. Besides, it’s annoying to decide who to share each post with. Play around with Google+ and you’ll see.


There is certainly a problem of too many irrelevant posts in people’s News Feeds, but Circles don’t solve that. The feed from your foodie friends will still include much more than photos or talk about food.

I’d love to see Facebook or Google (or anyone) create a solution that lets me see particular types of posts or information when I want to see it. For instance, all my friends’ mentions of movies this weekend or all the songs my friends shared this month. That would be a gamechanger.

But so far, Google+ does not offer compelling reason to switch from Facebook. Some people talk about “starting fresh,” adding friends more selectively and organizing them from the start. Sure, but that seems like just as much work as cleaning out your Facebook friends.

Besides, you’ll feel a little silly when Facebook comes out with a solution that sorts your friends automatically. They already have an algorithm that suggests friends to add to certain lists. I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up one day to find Facebook has grouped all of our friends for us.

But then, how often will anyone use them anyway?

As the year comes to a close and I reflect on the work I’ve done, I can’t help but think about how different Facebook was at the start of 2010.

Facebook’s own timeline isn’t very helpful, except to show that Facebook gained 200 million users since December 2009.  Even Flowtown, maker of many great infographics, failed to show just how much Facebook did this year. That’s why I put together this comprehensive, but probably still not complete, timeline of Facebook in 2010.

Some changes helped marketers, others seemed to be direct attacks against us. The introduction of the Open Graph Protocol and social plugins like the Like Button have, in only a few months, begun to reshape the face of the web. With Places and Deals, we have major new features to incorporate in our campaigns. We have more analytics about the Pages we manage and the apps we implement. We can share larger photos and Like our fans’ comments. And Facebook ad targeting is becoming increasingly more effective.

There were many other additions, tweaks and redesigns that have changed the way we all consume and interact with Facebook. It’s mind-blowing to think of what next year could hold.

But I’m excited to find out.

Facebook Timeline 2010

January

February

March

April

May

  • Added ability to create Events from the homepage
  • Launched 0.facebook.com, a simplified mobile version of the site that can be accessed free to international users with certain carriers
  • Changed the privacy settings dashboard in wake of controversy from the Open Graph and Instant Personalization announcements (Facebook claims to have simplified the process for controlling privacy, but the interface still needs work)

June

July

August

September

October

November

  • Announced Single Sign-On, which is like Facebook Connect for mobile apps
  • Introduced Deals, an addition that lets businesses offer coupons or other deals to people checking in with Facebook Places
  • Announced new Messages product, which combines text, chat and email to make communication more seamless. This feature has not been released to all users.

December

Today Rotten Tomatoes announced new Instant Personalization features that will show you what movies your Facebook friends like and what movies you might enjoy based on your other interests. It’s a good example of how our social networks can become more useful to us.

Another can be found on TripAdvisor. When you connect to the site using Facebook, you will see which of your friends have lived in, visited or can otherwise offer advice about a city. I love this idea, but I soon noticed that a few of my friends were not listed in places I knew they should have been.

Then it clicked.

A few months ago, when Facebook announced Instant Personalization, blogs and other media outlets ran with the story, “Even if you opt-out of Instant Personalization, your friends can share your information!” People were horrified and quickly went to uncheck every box under the “Info accessible through your friends” section.

But of course this sounded scary when no one had a tangible example of why they might want to share their info with applications or websites used by their friends.

Now perhaps it’s time to give it a second thought. Do you like giving your friends recommendations about restaurants or movies or travel spots? If so, go to your privacy settings and check more options under ‘Info accessible through your friends.”

If this idea is still horrifying to you, go there and uncheck everything.