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Facebook Scrambles after Unexpected Privacy Fumble

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the doing-things-the-right-way-first dept.

196

bart_scriv writes "Facebook is responding to the recent uproar among its users by deploying better privacy protections and control, as well as being more open about future changes. This could be a case study for other social networking sites on how to avoid or deal with similar problems in the future." From the article: "A week before launch, when asked if he was concerned about a privacy backlash, he appeared surprised, saying, 'No, these people share stuff already and they get something out of sharing.' They've shared all right. And Facebook is listening. On Sept. 7, the site is ratcheting up privacy protections--the result of around-the-clock coding. On their privacy settings page, people will be given greater control over what items will or won't be included in news feeds." Relatedly, an anonymous reader writes "A recent Reuters article mentions that Facebook user Igor Hiller, 17, a freshman at University of California, Santa Barbara is organizing a real-world demonstration next Monday at Facebook's downtown Palo Alto headquarters." Read below for Zuckerman's Open Letter to the community.theStorminMormon writes ""We really messed this one up." begins an open letter from Mark Zuckerberg to the Facebook community. The letter goes on to say: "When we launched News Feed and Mini-Feed we were trying to provide you with a stream of information about your social world. Instead, we did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them. I'd like to try to correct those errors now.

When I made Facebook two years ago my goal was to help people understand what was going on in their world a little better. I wanted to create an environment where people could share whatever information they wanted, but also have control over whom they shared that information with. I think a lot of the success we've seen is because of these basic principles.

We made the site so that all of our members are a part of smaller networks like schools, companies or regions, so you can only see the profiles of people who are in your networks and your friends. We did this to make sure you could share information with the people you care about. This is the same reason we have built extensive privacy settings — to give you even more control over who you share your information with.

Somehow we missed this point with Feed and we didn't build in the proper privacy controls right away. This was a big mistake on our part, and I'm sorry for it. But apologizing isn't enough. I wanted to make sure we did something about it, and quickly. So we have been coding nonstop for two days to get you better privacy controls. This new privacy page will allow you to choose which types of stories go into your Mini-Feed and your friends' News Feeds, and it also lists the type of actions Facebook will never let any other person know about. If you have more comments, please send them over.

This may sound silly, but I want to thank all of you who have written in and created groups and protested. Even though I wish I hadn't made so many of you angry, I am glad we got to hear you. And I am also glad that News Feed highlighted all these groups so people could find them and share their opinions with each other as well.

About a week ago I created a group called Free Flow of Information on the Internet, because that's what I believe in — helping people share information with the people they want to share it with. I'd encourage you to check it out to learn more about what guides those of us who make Facebook. Tomorrow at 4pm est, I will be in that group with a bunch of people from Facebook, and we would love to discuss all of this with you. It would be great to see you there.

Thanks for taking the time to read this,

Mark"

cancel ×

196 comments

I HATE ALL OF YOU! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066074)

GO TO HELL!

Love Always,
News For Turds

(gfyourself)

MOD PARENT UP!!!!! (0, Troll)

News For Turds (580751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066266)

I could not possibly agree more with this pr0st33Z!!!!!

Love Always,
News For Turds

(insert my balls into your mouth plz k thx)

'Bout time for 'nother "Joel on Software" story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066380)



'Bout time for 'nother "Joel on Software" story . . . I see it on the wall. It's coming.

Boo-Hoo (3, Insightful)

k_187 (61692) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066082)

if you don't want this information to be out there, don't put it on facebook. How did the news feed work any differently than the real-world gossip chain? I'm amazed that people are suprised that if I say I like johnny on facebook, other people can find out about it? Eh, maybe this will convince people that they shouldn't put their whole lives on internet.

Boo-Hoo? Yeah but ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066117)

Eh, maybe this will convince people that they shouldn't put their whole lives on internet.
You're just jealous your whole life isn't on the internet like George Washington's [youtube.com] !

But seriously, people feel important when they leave something online that might last forever. Legacy and stuff. Plus, we're a gregarious species so we love interaction with our peers. I don't think some people realize the trade-offs that come with publicizing your info.

Re:Boo-Hoo (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066128)

a) unlike most other features, there wasn't a way to turn this off - this has now been (partially) rectified and I for one am happy with the changes

b) as has been pointed out numerous times before, there's a difference between publicly accessible and publicly announced

Re:Boo-Hoo (3, Insightful)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066615)

as has been pointed out numerous times before, there's a difference between publicly accessible and publicly announced

I really think many people don't really "get" the internet.

There are these things called search engines and spiders out there that scrape information from public places constantly. It matters not what Facebook does or does not have for functionality. They are not the only gatherer and publisher of information on their site.

If it's on the internet and publicly available, it's public. If you don't want something public, to everyone, forever, don't put it on the internet in a publicly available place. It really is that simple. Teens and other young adults frequently post wacky / private crap about themselves or their friends all the time. Do you REALLY want a future potential employer "Googling" you and finding all this stuff? How about a potential boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife? Hell, I can still find posts of mine from the late 80's via google - and google didn't even exist when I wrote them! I can also find via the internet archive copies of my web site from 7 years ago.

You can't put something out there, publicly, and then scream when someone you don't want reading it, reads it. That's sheer stupidity. Publishing a blog or having conversations on social networking sites such as myspace / facebook in open forums is no different than publishing it in the New York Times or broadcasting on CNN. You have publicly announced the information. You like to THINK that you have a tight little private group, but that's just an illusion.

Mod parent up. (1)

Plutonite (999141) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066941)

Exactly, the different is in their head. There is no difference *at all* between "available" and announced on the internet. You have a set of documents accesible via a port and a protocol. Why are people always putting their nasty little secrets online if they don't want to be caught with them? If you must, use a diary, or send email to your friends, or restrict access by setting up your own blog/site with password protection. Then you can claim your privacy has been invaded if the information leaks, and you can in fact sue people, for big money.

But don't put things up for the world to see then get shocked that they really did see them. We know you are not all comp.scientists and stuff, but for Gates' sake this is slashdot!

Re:Boo-Hoo (1)

PresidentEnder (849024) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066198)

While it's true that people shoudln't be putting private info online and expecting it to remain private, it's also true that those same dumb folk who do so are a part of facebook's community. There's nothing wrong with asking for changes to a service, and even less wrong with the people who provide that service changing it based on what their customers want. So people are dumb. Big deal. Facebook is listening to its customers.

Sad, really. (2, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066233)

It's pretty sad that this sort of thing needs to be said, but it still needs to be said to a generation growing up in a world of Livejournals and Myspaces and Facebooks.

It's a damn good thing the Web wasn't born yet when I was in school. If half the things I said and did in my youth were posted to the web, I'd probably never crawl out from under my rock. Hell, I'm still paranoid someone wil dig up the message bases from the old BBSes I used to frequent and say really stupid things on. :-P

Re:Sad, really. (4, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066436)

It's pretty sad that this sort of thing needs to be said, but it still needs to be said to a generation growing up in a world of Livejournals and Myspaces and Facebooks.

In the "good old days," all the people on your street used to know what you were up to. If you did something, the grapevine usually got that information to your folks before you got home. Of course it wasn't a perfect system and if you worked at it, you could hide your deeds from prying eyes (that's what tree forts were for).

Now, people are actually writing down the things they're doing and placing that information where anyone on the planet can see it. It really should come as no shock now. Was Facebook wrong for not doing a better job of protecting privacy? Sure. Are people culpable if they're silly enough to put embarassing and/or potentially damaging information on the Internet? You bet. The fact is, the younger generations don't understand the whole "global neighborhood" concept and it taskes something like this to make them aware that something they think is local is most assuredly not.

Re:Sad, really. (2, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066649)

Exactly. And not only is it the global neighborhood concept, but there is the permanent record. Throw something online now, from a blog entry to a website to this Slashdot comment, and in 20 years it'll probably still be archived somewhere. Every Usenet post I've ever made is saved on Google groups. I'm in who knows how many IRC logs. Archive.org hosts a copy of my first website ever, but thankfully the embarassing background MIDIs no longer work. And anyone can easily rustle it all up if they want to.

It's very hard if not impossible to "erase" something from the net. There's always the chance somebody saved it. Once you post it, it's there for friends, relatives, enemies, strangers, police, stalkers, prospective employers, and whoever else to possibly get hold of one day.

Re:Sad, really. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066791)

This information is not available to "anyone on the planet". LJ users make posts friends-only, and most information on facebook is invisible to people who aren't your "friends". The information is being selectively dispersed, but people don't like how easily it can be spotted by those they've chosen to be able to view it.

Re:Boo-Hoo (4, Insightful)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066243)

Its not the fact that they can see it, it is the fact that it is *broadcast* that makes it bad. I don't care that people I know find out that I break up with a girl, but I don't want it to be sent RSS style to everyone I know. They will find out in time, but preferably not all the next time they log to facebook. The old way, sure you were posting it on the internet, but there was a certain anonymnity to be found in the data overload of facebook. Now that changes are highlighted, its too easy.

Also, others are allowed to submit content to your page (like to my wall). If they do, I may want time to respond to it before all of my friends read it. Sure, the old way one or two might see it, but that risk is low.

This funtionality, if cut back, would be very useful. A notification of when friends put up new pictures would be great. Some things should be exempt from the feed, or at least have the option to have them never broadcast, so that they can fly 'under the radar'.

Re:Boo-Hoo (-1, Troll)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066369)

No, you're totally wrong. If information is publicly available than it is just public. Period. End of story. If you make information available then obviously you want it immediately delivered to everyone you know.

That's why no one bothers to use RSS feeds and they are such a big flop. Because there's no difference between going and finding info that's available on line and having it delivered to you automatically. None whatsoever.

-stormin

Push/pull news (2, Insightful)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066549)

RSS feeds are like television - pushing news to you. I prefer to pull the news I want to me, not have everything pushed at me.

Re:Push/pull news (3, Insightful)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066646)

The only point I was making is that going out to news.google.com and searching for the latest news on topic X is not the same as setting up an automatic filter or feed to send the articles to you. Similarly, checking out the latest article from blog Y is not the same thing as subscribing to the RSS feed from blog Y.

Some people may prefer one to the other, but they are not the same thing The information you get, however, is. So this proves my point: that there's more to this question than just what information is available.

This is so manifestly obvious that it's frustrating to believe there are people too stupid to realize this, and thick enough to actually argue that it's not the case.

If only we could make stupidity more painful...
[thanks to whomever I ripped the sig from]

-stormin

Re:Boo-Hoo (4, Insightful)

Kevin Stevens (227724) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066769)

So if you get divorced because she left you and cheated on you, thats a public record, and you obviously would not mind one bit if on the day of the filing that was on the front page of the NY Times? Or how about you got in a fight with your wife and I could hear it from outside so I recorded and played it back over the PA system at your office the next day?

Or how about how much you paid for your house? You have no problem with me sending a letter to all of your friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc telling them exactly how much you paid for it? That is most likely listed on the deed to your house which is a public record.

I disagree. There is a societal expectation that your private life not be broadcast even though it is "public." This expectation will probably change as tools like this become available. If you break up with someone, you may not care if people know, but just because your coworkers are linked to you on a social networking site doesn't mean you want that information immediately and easily available.

I perfectly understand how tools like this are deemed unacceptable and thats OK. It is how our society functions. If I have the time and effort, I can dig up dirt on anyone, but it will take more time and effort than I really care for. You can make a claim that this all goes out the window because its on the internet, but these sites are trying to mimic online what goes on in the real world, and enable real world friendships. However, making "stalking" like this so easy just deters people from making social connections. Just because I met a girl I kind of like at a bar last weekend and I made her my friend on Myspace does not mean that I want some girl I am seeing to get an immediate update of that fact. You are saying that this is obviously exactly what I want, and that is just not true.

Re:Boo-Hoo (1)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066813)

So if you get divorced because she left you and cheated on you, thats a public record, and you obviously would not mind one bit if on the day of the filing that was on the front page of the NY Times?

You need to update your browser. It's not catching the sarcasm tags.

-stormin

A mini-feed program (4, Interesting)

JimBobJoe (2758) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066501)

The old way, sure you were posting it on the internet, but there was a certain anonymnity to be found in the data overload of facebook.

There was a website at one time that plugged into myspace to deliver a semi-similar feed. It watched the profiles of all your friends (or people you wanted "watched") and if their relationship status flipped to single you'd get an email.

I thought it was a brillant concept. (I believe it was shut down because the way it interacted with myspace violated that site's terms of agreement.)

What would it take for me to design and distribute a program that you can install on your own computer to do the same thing? (I figure if it interacted with facebook or myspace in a low key way, and basically surfed your friend's profiles as if you were doing it from your own computer, it might just pass TOA muster.)

It could do a a semi-regular feed of all your friend's walls. It could collect all the pictures from their profiles and put them into a nifty slideshow. It could surf all the profile's friends ad nauseum and create a neural network of the way people have friended each other which you could probably do something really nifty with.

Re:Boo-Hoo (4, Insightful)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066257)

Why is this insightful? It's not. Do we really have to go around this circle again? How information is accessible is sometimes just important as what information is accessible.

No one previously thought that information they posted on Facebook anywhere was private (at least, from their friends). But now it is being aggregated and broadcast to every friend. If you think this is the same thing, then I suppose you also think that Google making the full-text of every book available on line is the same thing, whether they do it (as they are doing it) by allowing you to see only a snippet at time or whether they allow you to download the whole thing as a text file. The information available in either scenario is exactly the same, but based purely on how easy it is to get at that publicly available info one is fair use and the other is not.

It's just a simple fact, even IF information is public accessible, it still matters how accessible. Stop acting as though privacy is a binary proposition: either top-secret or totally-public with no differences in between. Facebook users are not posting info on the Net and getting annoyed that people aggregate it (which would be annoying but fair) they have joined a private networking group and then the rule's of that networking group got changed and it made a lot of them mad. Nothing private was revealed, but information that would have taken hours to aggregate every single day was suddenly available with 0 effort. That is a change, and not everyone has to be happy about it.

I say "them" because I didn't mind the changes. Now that the new privacy features have been changed, there's pretty much nothing left to talk about. The only complaint Facebook users have left is that the Feed disrupts the layout and (apparently) there's no way to turn it off by default so that you never even see it.

But considering how incredibly fast Mark and Facebook were to implement the needed privacy controls, I'm sure that this too will be available soon in the future. If only every company was as agile and quick to respond to its customers demands...

-stormin

Re:Boo-Hoo (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066518)

This is a damn social networking site we are talking about, not a copyrighted work. People make changes to their profiles with the clear intention of making the new information available to friends. So to complain that that information is made available more easily is absolutely ludicrous.

Re:Boo-Hoo (1)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066612)

This is a damn social networking site we are talking about, not a copyrighted work.

You mean my analogy wasn't the same scenario as what we were talking about? Are you serious? Crap! Oh wait, it's an analogy.

The principle of spreading information still applies in both cases. That's like me making an analogy about how different OSs are like different car brands, and then you complaining that cars have wheels and OSs don't. The response would be... so? Unless my analogy relied on some intrinsic quality or characteristic of wheels or the lack thereof, then you're just not saying anything intelligent.

People make changes to their profiles with the clear intention of making the new information available to friends. So to complain that that information is made available more easily is absolutely ludicrous.

As opposed to authors, who desperately hope and pray no one will ever read their books.

Authors don't just want people to read their books. They'd also like to get credit for writing them. And they'd also like to get paid. Clearly they want people to read what they write, but there are other considerations.

The same goes for Facebook users. First of all, they don't want everyone to know what's on the profile. If they did, they'd be MySpace users. Second of all, they don't necessarily want all of their friends to know everything that they do on Facebook. A Facebook friend might not be a friend in real life, it might be a passing acquaintance or even an old high school buddy you haven't seen in 10 years or more. I have a couple of Facebook friends whom I don't even recognize (just one or two, not sure when I friended them), a couple of strangers who just wanted to make friends when they moved into my geographical area, and also my wife and my closest friends. Are you seriously saying I want them all to have equal access to what I write?

Now it would be really complicated for me to have to set up unique privileges for all of them. Or to set up nested hierarchies of user groups. Not to mention that I might be giving away information I don't really want to give away (e.g. someone may consider me a closer friend than I consider them, and neither of use would know this until I had access to their entire profile and they had access to practically none of mine). So the Facebook method is simple: if someone wants to find out all about you and track down every comment you've made on every album and wall and discussion board all across your network: they have to do the work. This is a type of marginal privacy in the same sense that locking your front door is marginal privacy. Someone that really wants to break in will be able to. But it would take them time and effort. And most people don't want to do that (plus the threat of jail time - it's not a perfect analogy) but the principle is simple and elegant.

That's what Facebook's new system endangered. Although now of course you can get it back by opting out of the Feed.

-stormin

Re:Boo-Hoo (2, Insightful)

thelost (808451) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066283)

this is hardly insightful. facebook is a closed community and as such there are certain requirements to joining it, such as already being part of a given community. There is also an expected certain level of privacy, as is explained in the letter written by Mark Zuckerberg.

If a site advertises a certain level of privacy and fails to provide it, that's bad, but it's something the guys at facebook are trying to fix. However you cannot simply say "boohoo you put your info on the net, suck it down". These people put their information on the web expecting its privacy. that isn't unreasonable.

Ideal Privacy Settings (2, Interesting)

juxel (47764) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066297)

Facebook is a social networking site intended to make connecting with people easier, but the problem with all sites like this has always been the lack of classify your level of friendship with someone. For example, my roommates and close circle of friends (who actually care what party I'm going to this weekend) would like to have me on their news-feed. However, the people I have as "friends" that I've met a couple times and we are now Facebook buddies mainly so I can easily let them know when we are having a party don't care whose wall I wrote on.

I was extremely please when Facebook came out with the limited profiles, I just wish you could have multiple limited settings and then tag friends are a certain level to determine what profile they see. This is a step in the right direction though.

Re:Ideal Privacy Settings (2, Insightful)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066631)

"my roommates and close circle of friends (who actually care what party I'm going to this weekend) would like to have me on their news-feed. However, the people I have as "friends" that I've met a couple times and we are now Facebook buddies mainly so I can easily let them know when we are having a party don't care whose wall I wrote on."

I believe there is a perfect device for what you describe here, the telephone. Remember those from back in the day?? When you wanted certain friends to know something, but not everyone??

Not every little detail of your life needs to be "online, immediately accessible" by everyone you know. I have a Myspace page but use it for specific networking purposes and wouldn't ever put anything on my page I wouldn't scream in a roomful of strangers. No names, specific locations, place of work, address etc will ever be posted no matter what Myspace says about privacy. Ultimately, everyone is in charge of their own privacy when it comes to this sort of thing - no matter what "policies" are in place, someone will find ways around them. Don't rely on others to protect your privacy.

Re:Boo-Hoo (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066301)

More importantly, don't add people to your friends list you don't want to be able to see such news.

I laughed when I saw all the "Get rid of the new stalker tool" groups. Um, only people on your friends list get your news items. By joining those groups claiming the news feed was a "stalker tool", people readily said, "I added my stalkers to my friends list to artificially inflate my friend count." Way to go!

For every person angry about the news feed that blew it WAY out of proportion, there are ten people like myself that can now figure out why the heck someone appeared on our "Friends with updates" list.

Re:Boo-Hoo (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066393)

Pretty much hit the nail on the head.

I just found the feature to be really really stupid. I dont care that my friend added a favorite book to their list...

Re:Boo-Hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066306)

Way to completely miss the point, I mean you werent even close.

First of all..this news feed is absolutely nothing like a gossip chain. Because the details on it wouldnt be gossiped about in the first place.

I think you were too busy writing a message about how people shouldnt put everything on the internet to be bothered by facts of what the news feed is.

Re:Boo-Hoo (1, Flamebait)

be-fan (61476) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066438)

I think it just confirms what we all knew. At least 99% of Facebook users are idiots, and the other 1% are there because some of the 99% made them...

understanding people's perception of privacy (1)

JimBobJoe (2758) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066439)

Eh, maybe this will convince people that they shouldn't put their whole lives on internet.

I can't disagree, but, at the moment, it's a fascinating experiment in human psychology (vis a vis people's understanding of privacy and their preferences for it.)

Perceptions plays an enormous role in social networking. Facebook's little institutional net may have felt safer, but I thought it was intolerably anti-privacy, and it's user agreement is worse than Myspace's.

It actually seemed that most people can articulate why they didn't like the feed, even though it was simply broadcasting something that was already public. The feed changed the way that people interacted with the site, which would, at the very least, imply multi-layered privacy preferences.

As an individual who has spent years being a privacy advocate that's really exciting. Many of my colleagues came to the conclusion that no one gives a damn about privacy, and yet, as this shows, people have odd instinctual reactions.

Re:Boo-Hoo (1)

Hangin10 (704729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066678)

Thank you
The following has also been posted in a note on my facebook:
The Nature and Mindset of a Stalker

Be in control of your own information. Don't throw papers containing your SSN in the trash, don't post things online you don't want people to see. The bigger problem is people in one's network having full access to your profile without befriending you first. Someone stalking you is going to be psychotic about viewing your page anyway.

Perhaps someone familar with the psycology will comment below, but the privacy settings are quite sufficient, unless you want your interests, etc private. I tried setting my cell phone number to friends only and discovered friends only to be the default. I don't believe that a stalker would settle for using the news-feed, they would go directly to the page everytime (probably having it bookmarked) obsessing over every detail as if it were indeed new.

Plainly put, this is like parents defering to the government to make the decisions for them. The Man should not be expected to protect your information; we DON'T like him, or have you forgotten that?
(end)

I honestly don't understand people's problem with the Feeds. If you don't want people knowing the info, you shouldn't have put it up in the first place. People just don't understand the concept for some reason. It's like the movie Saw. Noone wants to be self-sufficient and independant anymore (I'm not saying I am, and I will say I wish I was). I do like the new privacy setting capabilities, but I still think people made rather too much of a deal out of it. Anyone that agrees with this should join the facebook group "The Pro News-Feed Group".

Re:Boo-Hoo (0, Troll)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066774)

I've been modded troll for this already in the last thread on FB, so give it a rest already.


There is a difference between information broadcast, and information available. You don't even have to be a overly-pedantic /. reader to know this.

This is the difference between the small town bar fight recorded in the small town paper, and it getting the leading position on every station in the country.

Yes, they're both public, though in the first example you have to look at the small town paper to get the info - which for 99% of people not in that small town - represents too much trouble.

Compare to disinterested parties getting their shotgun news - they didn't care, but now they know that Billy and Bobby were in a fight in 'small town'. Maybe they do something with the info, maybe not, but thousands & thousands of people now know as opposed to the hundred or so that read the paper.

There you have it. If you can't see the diff, maybe you need this. [gnu.org]

Re:Boo-Hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066940)

OMG! You like Johnny too!?!?

A demonstration? (5, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066100)

A Demonstration!? Before you start screaming and harrassing a company, maybe, just maybe, you should give them some time to respond. In this case, the company has responded in record time and it still wasn't enough to stop this radical from freaking out. Nothing shouts 'unstable' like organizing protests at the drop of a hat.

Re:A demonstration? (1)

Enoxice (993945) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066145)

My thoughts exactly. I think they've done an excellent job in their response so far. The only other feature I want is the ability to turn off the newsfeed on my homepage. I don't care if other people have it or can see my information/actions, but it's cluttering up my screen and I don't like it.

Interesting that people believe a protest outside of the headquarters of a website that implemented an unpopular feature is a rational reaction. I mean, they haven't done anything to hurt anyone or anything illegal; they've only implemented an unpopular feature, tell them you don't like it and go on with your life.

Re:A demonstration? (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066146)

In my own experience, Facebook has had the best response times of any major website. All of their features just plain work. The record time for a Microsoft patch [slashdot.org] is three days. Facebook implemented this change in less than a week, which is pretty fast. Facebook has also never spread adware [slashdot.org] through its homespage like MySpace did.


While I did not like the Facebook feed, I was always confident that they would intriduce some privacy measures. That is just the level of trust that they have established.

Re:A demonstration? (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066311)

The record time for a Microsoft patch is three days.

This seems to have gone over everyone's head on that story, but the reference to 'Quickest Patch Ever' was meant to be facetious, not a precise factual statement about Microsoft's entire history of patch issuance.

Re:A demonstration? (1)

Karthikkito (970850) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066798)

Facebook has also never spread adware through its homespage like MySpace did.
They did have a few banner ads that tried to install infected wmf scripts...obviously the fault of the network that hosted the ads, but problems have occurred.

Re:A demonstration? (4, Insightful)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066188)

And another thing: why the hell does it take two days for college students to organize a protest about Facebook making already-public information easier to access (OMGNO!!!), when they don't seem to do shit about secret prisons, torture, and other problems of large-scale government?

Re:A demonstration? (1)

AceCaseOR (594637) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066427)

What state are you in? In Oregon we've had a lot of college student protests over the summer about the war in Iraq and other, important, issues.

Re:A demonstration? (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066658)

I just moved out of Florida, and I'm now in North Carolina. In Florida, I knew maybe 5 people who cared about things other than how many brain cells they were going to kill each weekend, and here I know none so far.

Re:A demonstration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066462)

Because the general public, who have been feeding like pigs to the trough of rampant consumerism and banal popular culture* are too ignorant, apathetic and cynical to feel like their voices will be heard. Facebook is an easy target and has proved itself to be pliant and accountable, where they could just as easily turn around and say "fuck off, this is our website and we can do what we want." The government and corporations, on the other hand, are a much scarier and formidable opposition. It takes real strife to make people want to confront them, and while we are all safe and happy(TM) nothing will be done.

*by the way, I count myself among this group

Yes, a Demonstration! Like the Good Ole Days! (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066206)

Nothing shouts 'unstable' like organizing protests at the drop of a hat.
I hate to sound like a patriotic tool ... but it was demonstrations that built America. It was the right to protest at the drop of a hat that made it so appealing. The fact that more people don't take to the streets when anything goes wrong in the government upsets me. We've really forgotten why this country was built and why so many millions gave their lives. We've taken for granted the right to protest and ignored it.

You're exercising your right to free speech by saying this protest is uncalled for. I don't understand your logic for calling it 'unstable' but instead they must have some good control of the situation if they can organize people instantly. No company should be above the scrutiny of the consumer and we're all consumers of facebook. They aren't 'harassing' a company, they're asserting their right to make their voices heard. The fact that you used the following words leads me to believe you don't support demonstrations: "screaming, harassing, radical, freaking out, unstable." These are very negative words and it sounds like something that a Facebook employee would say to defend their company.

These people feel that Facebook breached ethics. Is this true? I'm not sure, but I am willing to listen to a mass of my fellow Americans that feel this is a big deal.

Perhaps mass protests at "the drop of a hat" would keep our politicians in check? Right now, it seems they can get away with murder and spending more money than we have. I honestly only wish more people would non-violently protest and speak their minds.

Re:Yes, a Demonstration! Like the Good Ole Days! (1)

Hex4def6 (538820) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066521)

<I>"Perhaps mass protests at "the drop of a hat" would keep our politicians in check? Right now, it seems they can get away with murder and spending more money than we have. I honestly only wish more people would non-violently protest and speak their minds."</I>

The situations you defined is hardly at "the drop of a hat." These would be legitimate reasons to protest. The fact that you consider protesting a feature change as legitimate as protesting murder seems odd to me.

This is a ridiculous protest, and cheapens the impact of protests. God knows what she would have done had she been old enough when "New Coke" came out...

Re:A demonstration? (1)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066302)

What do you expect from college kids?

Imagine if they viewed MS the way they view Facebook... I'd hate to be in Redmond in the days after Vista rolled out.

"WHAT!? YOU'RE MISSING A DRIVER!?? PROTEST TIME!!! "

-stormin

Re:A demonstration? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066694)

Nah, the college kids would never tread on Slashdotter territory...

Re:A demonstration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066811)

WOW!!! A demonstration organized by a UCSB student. Do they DO anything else besides protest? I'm so sick of hearing about UCSB protests, what a bunch of losers.

Why... (1)

locokamil (850008) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066112)

... didn't they just roll back to a version that didn't have the feed in it?

Re:Why... (1)

Duct Tape Jedi (802164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066148)

no, they actually added settings that let you control what goes into your feed.

Re:Why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066173)

Because this was invented by some "community-viral marketing" idiot and all people just fell for it. STUPID!!!

Of course they will not roll it back. That would be too easy. It would defeat the purpose of getting free publicity and meanwhile the user count will likely peak. It all means money.

For the better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066121)

Didn't take long, thankfully

This just in... (1)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066122)

"A recent Reuters article mentions that Facebook user Igor Hiller, 17, a freshman at University of California, Santa Barbara is organizing a real-world demonstration next Monday at Facebook's downtown Palo Alto headquarters." In other news, people have way, way too much free time.

Oh FFS (4, Insightful)

goldcd (587052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066124)

" Igor Hiller, 17, a freshman at University of California, Santa Barbara is organizing a real-world demonstration next Monday at Facebook's downtown Palo Alto headquarters."

Has he really nothing better to do with his time? If you don't like facebook, just trash your account and leave.
Find something worthwhile to get upset about.

Re:Oh FFS (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066211)

He obviously mostly just wants attention, some people in college will look anywhere for an excuse to protest. These people seem to forget this is a site that offers a free service and is completely voluntary.

Re:Oh FFS (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066566)

He's probably short too... and has a bad complexion... I bet he also smells funny.

Re:Oh FFS (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066252)

Has he really nothing better to do with his time?

Seriously -- one has to wonder how much someone spending his first week of college (UCSB, no less!) driving hundreds of miles to protest Facebook over this needs Facebook in the first place.

If anything, I'm pretty impressed with how well the company has handled this.

Oh I dunno (1)

goldcd (587052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066350)

1) I am on Facebook. 2) I have no friends. 3) I want some Facebook people to put as my Facebook friends. Facebook protest probably isn't too bad a place to try - would all have been a lot simpler if his mum had just breast-fed the retard.

Re:Oh FFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066378)

Wow, facebook screwed up, people protested, and they had to fix it. Sounds like "the system" worked.

Re:Oh FFS (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066414)

Jumping ship is the worst way to deal with a situation. Sure, you personally might benefit with not having to deal with the problem, but the problem remains and won't get any better just because you're there.

If everyone held up the notion of jumping ship when things got too hot, there would eventually be no ship to jump to, because they would all sink. A lot of people think that the current political and economic situation in the U.S. sucks, but if we just jumped ship to Canada or Europe, we'd eventually have a country full mainly of religious fundies who would start going after other countries, anyway. Better to stand and fight.

While you may think it's a "miniscule" problem, and Igor could focus on world hunger or something, this is something that more directly affects Igor, and if he wants to protest the mini-feed, more power to him.

Re:Oh FFS (2, Funny)

SydBarrett (65592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066494)

I can just imagine this "demonstration". A bunch of guys just standing around fiddling with their blackberries and cell phones while avoiding eye contact.

Maybe someone should show up and hand out these fine products: http://www.cafepress.com/ebrushdesign/1727415 [cafepress.com]

Why wasn't news feed disabled? (1)

Devil's BSD (562630) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066152)

After the almost instantaneous uproard over news feed, why did Facebook not take care of the privacy issues right away and revert to the pre-newsfeed code? Instead, they waited three days to plug this massive breach of privacy. I believe that the facebook creators need to be held accountable for this delay.

Also, the fix code was so hastily put together, several of my "home page" links and the "My Groups" link in the menu don't work anymore. Anyone else having these problems?

Re:Why wasn't news feed disabled? (4, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066182)

"Held accountable?" For what damages, exactly? For god's sake, we're not talking about a bank's website. All we're talking about is a way for people to slightly more easily discover information that was already public. You should be happy they responded as quickly as they did.

"Massive breach of privacy" my ass.

Re:Why wasn't news feed disabled? (1)

Devil's BSD (562630) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066312)

There are ways to hold someone accountable other than monetary damages. I was thinking more along the lines of more extensive testing of new features (open beta period), and at the very least more communication between the developers and the users. Sure, there's a facebook blog, but it's not linked from anywhere I can see on the main page, and the blog isn't frequently updated at all. And as it's been mentioned repeatedly before, there's a difference between public information and broadcasted information. There's a difference between walking by a pile of shit and having a pile of shit dropped in front of you. I can walk farther away in the former case, but nobody likes having shit shoved in their faces.

Mod Me Up: Free Professional Advice Here! (1, Informative)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066421)

There's a difference between walking by a pile of shit and having a pile of shit dropped in front of you.

I suppose. But from where I'm viewing this, this is more a matter of people having jumped into a pile of shit months ago and only now wondering why they're starting to stink.

Let's review the Rules for Living in a Networked World:

1. Don't put anything in an e-mail that you wouldn't want your boss, your wife, your child, or the Attorney General's Office to read.

2. Don't put anything on a website linked to your name that you wouldn't want Anyone, Anywhere, Now or Forever, linked to you.

It's simple really: Think someday, maybe, possibly, slight chance, back-of-your-mind, you might want to run for public office? Stay away from MySpace and Facebook and their ilk like they were kryptonite.

Oh, Yeah: The Correlary to #2: (3, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066488)

Nothing you write about yourself in your blog will seem as clever, funny, and/or meaningful at age 35 as it did at age 22, and it's not because you have lost your sense of humor or appreciation for art and philosophy. And unless you plan a career as a full-time Ren Faire professional, stay away from the "Fan Fiction" completely.

Happy to Help.

Re:Oh, Yeah: The Correlary to #2: (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066571)

full-time Ren Faire professional

Not that there's anything wrong with, I hasten to add.



kk, done now.

Re:Mod Me Up: Free Professional Advice Here! (2, Insightful)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066808)

It's too bad most young people have such a hard time figuring this out, or accepting these facts.

While facebook proclaims "closed" networks, being "closed" doesn't help when your info gets copied and pasted, and sent around to others outside your "closed network". The reality is that it's not as private as people would like to believe. In fact, it's not private at all.

Re:Why wasn't news feed disabled? (4, Insightful)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066334)

Instead, they waited three days to plug this massive breach of privacy.

OK, I get really annoyed at the stupid people who can't tell the difference between making information available and delivering it to you all collated and sorted. Clearly how you present the information matters. But to call the Feeds a "massive breach of privacy" is really silly. Every single thing the Feeds announced was information already available to everyone that got the Feed. How is this a "massive" breach?

Massive breaches are when companies lose millions of social security numbers or credit card numbers. You seriously are crazy if you think just broadcasting to a group of friends whom you have already selected to see the information is really that horrible of a deal.

So for 3 days people had an easier time tracking your wall posts. Was it really so traumatic for you?

-stormin

Re:Why wasn't news feed disabled? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066773)

Facebook is gladly refunding all the fees you paid to them, plus interest. The check is in the email.

You really don't have a leg to stand on when complaining about a free service. Read their policies - if you don't agree, don't sign up.

Re:Why wasn't news feed disabled? (2, Interesting)

sasdrtx (914842) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066950)

Good point - they should have. Not that it's much of a privacy issue, just a customer disatisfaction issue.

Since they didn't (back out the change), and they obviously still don't understand their business, what you and every other annoyed facebook user needs to do is delete your account.

Once facebook is out of business, smarter people will create better systems.

So-called "privacy" settings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066156)

This is only one example of something that's all too common -- user "privacy" and "preference" settings that mysteriously reset themselves after a period of time. On sites that I actually do business with, I have repeatedly specified that I don't want advertising emails, I don't want my information shared, EVER. And yet, after a time, the spam starts up. I go back to the site only to discover that I'm not only signed up for every stupid email they send, but that my "share nothing" setting has changed to "share everything".

I wish there were some legal protection against that, but if you look at how slow and ineffective legislation is against real spam, I doubt that "solicited" spam is even on the radar.

I think k_187 is right -- if you don't want your information shared, keep it to yourself.

It wasnt a loss of privacy (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066160)

it was just stupid. You basically had this screen of irrelevant information that was frequently updated...

seriously I dont care that someone I know added "V For Vendetta" to their favorite movies list.

I dont get the big privacy issue, it was just a lame annoying feature to begin with

Re:It wasnt a loss of privacy (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066303)

Actually it was useful, as you could use it to see the names of the Anti-Facebook News Feed groups everyone was joining. ;)

Default settings should have been OFF (2, Informative)

Wormholio (729552) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066172)

I didn't know about this until I saw the slashdot article. I don't check facebook that often. Suddenly all sorts of events about what I've done, and what my friends have been doing, are visible. That's nice if you wanted it that way, but I didn't.

They added a new feature. They now have a "privacy" control which lets you select what is shown about you and your goings on and what is not shown. And the defaults, for someone who didn't even know about this, are to show everything.

This may end up being a nice feature in the long run, but the initial defaults should have been OFF for everything.

I Still Don't Like It (3, Interesting)

stevemm81 (203868) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066180)

I just wish you could turn the feed off altogether - I miss the old, uncluttered homepage. I'm not that concerned about my privacy; as someone said earlier, if I wanted things to be private from my Facebook friends I wouldn't post them on Facebook.

They've managed to turn one of the more attractive looking pages on the Internet into an ugly mess cluttered with useless information about my friends joining groups I've never heard of, etc. I think they should either eliminate the feeds altogether or put them on a separate page.

Re:I Still Don't Like It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066424)

They've managed to turn one of the more attractive looking pages on the Internet into an ugly mess cluttered with useless information about my friends joining groups I've never heard of, etc.

Wait, I thought we were talking about FaceBook and not MySpace? :)

Re:I Still Don't Like It (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066719)

How did this get modded interesting?

The homepage still has all the same information, available on the right column, easy to view. On profile pages, just push the little arrow > button and "wa-la, it's gone"

Re:I Still Don't Like It (1)

natrius (642724) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066734)

I just wish you could turn the feed off altogether - I miss the old, uncluttered homepage.

There was pretty much no information on the home page before. Why exactly is that desirable? Why does it matter if the page is "one of the more attractive pages on the Internet"? Personally, I never spent more then two seconds on the old home page. I was either on my way to my profile, or on the way to my list of friends to see who had updated recently. Now the home page is actually useful, and that's a problem somehow? Explain.

The whole world in Palo Alto? (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066191)

No way! The bookstore isn't that big.

honestly. (1)

kenny!wasarealboy (1000808) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066245)

i love how upset people got due to something they did to themselves.

The problem with facebook... (4, Insightful)

usacomp2k3 (972768) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066261)

Is that it puts all your friends on the same level. I don't care about what happened to most of the people that are my 'friends'. If I wanted to know about them specifically, I can look at their page. What would be better would be to have a list of 'close friends' or something like that that you can add to a feed and only get reports from those few people. Also, a 'opt-out' check box in the privacy settings would be nice. Or, as another comment said, it should be an 'opt-in' feature in the first place from a security setting.

Re:The problem with facebook... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066384)

What would be better would be to have a list of 'close friends' or something like that
I think you should have to rate all your fucking facebook friends on a scale of 1 to 20 with no repeating rankings, so each week you could have a "top 20" countdown on Sunday evening and see who were the lucky risers and unlucky fallers.

The sad thing about this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066263)

is that it just highlights how stupid college kids really are, at least here in the good ole USA (maybe elsewhere, I'm an American, how should I know?).

I still don't get it... (5, Interesting)

Finnegar (918643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066278)

While I like that Facebook has made changes in responce to user demand (the largest protest group reached over 700,000 members, even though I don't think it would have reached that WITHOUT the help of the feeds...*grumble*), I still don't see why there was a demand in the first place.

NOTHING on your feed was something that someone couldn't have seen otherwise. In fact, there are many things that were specificly excluded, such as pokes, messages, things you rejected, and (most importantly) photos you deleted.

While it'd be good to be able to turn the thing off if you really don't like it (and that's what the protesters are still pushing for), I actually like the change. Instead of taking a look at profiles and guessing as to who has changed what, I can see everything in a single place.

I expect that in a few months this will be forgotten or considered overblown. Facebook has made something convenient, not malicious.

What amazes me is (1)

shirizaki (994008) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066280)

The fact that college students were moved to do soemthign not involve with drinking, fornicating, or sleeping. When has anyone ever seen such a sweeping movement done by a group? Atilla the Hun? Napoleon? I didn't find anything wrong with it either. I think it's a great exampe of how peopel want to be out there, but don't "want to be out there". I joined the "don't like it? quit" train of thought. So someone knows I put my relationship status as "single" and I commented on someone's profile that "I think you should jerk me off at the party next week". Anyone can read those comments. The mini feed just summarized my browsing. Ultimate proof o fthe double standard: People want to know everythign about someone else without anyone knowing anythign about them.

What this generation really cares about (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066294)

Controversial war in Iraq.

Immigration issues.

Overreaching government power.

Corporate and government privacy invasion.

And what do they want to actually go out and protest?

Yes folks, these are the leaders of tomorrow.

Zuckerberg not Zuckerman (1)

grev (974855) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066351)

Read below for Zuckerman's Open Letter to the community.

His name is Zuckerberg.

Bad Acronym Association... (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066442)

About a week ago I created a group called Free Flow of Information on the Internet, because that's what I believe in
He should have named it "Free Information Flow on the Internet", or "FIFI" for short.

Re:Bad Acronym Association... (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066842)

Or Public Information Public Internet or PIPI for short...

(with apologies to R. Kelly)

Why people cared (1)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066510)

The whole appeal of facebook was that it selectively disseminated information. People put things up because of its limitations. The newsfeed essentially shifted facebook away from the model that made it popular. People were upset because they liked the idea behind the original facebook, and for a bit it appeared that the most popular implementation of that idea was gone.

Re:Why people cared (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16066611)

The information that the mini-feed shows is the same exact information that Facebook previously allowed others to see.

The only difference is that it convineiently lists every act you do on Facebook in one place whereas before someone would have to digg around more to find it. However, the information was still visible.

The complaints about the news feed are akin to those who think that closed source code is more secure than open source. Security through obscurity has been debunked many times, why is it different for Facebook?

The real problem (2, Insightful)

Fletchnuts (995269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066593)

The real problem with the news feed is that it assumes that the relationships on facebook are something more than status points. There are of course real genuine friends on facebook and there's no doubt that those people who are real friends wouldn't mind having their other real friends know what they've been up to. The problem is that so many people have 500 some odd friends (people you met at a party one night after downing six glasses of jack in 15 minutes, or some random guy from your class) and there's no way that these people have any sort of meaningful relationship with all those people. The Facebook creators I think incorrectly assumed that the users would like to know what's going on with all their "friends", which we don't - i'm a user -. They also incorrecctly assumed that the majority of facebook connections are genuine - they aren't - (I have almost 200 friends on facebook, and that's a small number to some. Only about five or six of them are people that truly matter to me, the rest I hardly see or talk to).

The real problem is spamming your friends (1)

bryz (730558) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066639)

Basically, they're spamming all of your friends with all of your actions.

We can show how this works against facebook by taking action.

Whenever an action is made on facebook, this action is immediately broadcast to all users within the networks of people involved. Therefore, if everyone against the facebook mini-feeds just posts 1-5 messages on their own walls or as notes, this will flood mini-feeds making them essentially useless.

In the numbers suggested yesterday there are more than 500,000 users that are against mini-feeds. If these 500,000 users post 5 messages, then this means at least 2.5 million messages will be broadcast. This would also probably reach nearly all of the facebook users.

Filtering (1)

Jzor (982679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066648)

They made it so you can filter what is sent from your profile, but did they also think to add a filter for what comes into the news feed on your home page?

I'd much rather be able to filter the news feed on my home page rather than have more controls on what gets broadcast. That way I could clean up the useless crap that I don't need to know and not have to wait for all of my friends to take action first.

Brilliant! (1)

Quixote (154172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066671)

Call me a cynic, but I think this was a brilliant move on Facebook's part. Look at all the free publicity they are getting.

I would not be surprised at all if this guy Hiller turned out to be on the payroll of Facebook (either now, or some day in the future).

XSS for better privacy! (1)

David_Bloom (578245) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066770)

I have made a way to use cross-site-scripting to improve privacy on Facebook: clear your newsfeed [mchsi.com] (you must be logged into Facebook)

Obligatory (1)

Hachey (809077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16066871)

...well I, for one, welcome our new facebook overlords.




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