Facebook’s Biggest Problem is Itself
We all knew it before we signed up; but that doesn’t make it right. In yet another reminder last week that the premier social media giant Facebook holds our privacy in the same esteem as NASA holds Pluto, the decision-makers over there in Menlo Park have followed up their brilliant Timeline feature of late last year with a new Couples feature that threatens to increase privacy leaks.
The way the Couples Pages works is innocuous enough…unless you don’t actually want pictures of you and your significant other (or, the person you listed as such anyway) gathered together from areas on Facebook on which you’ve been tagged, and placed on a single page without your consent. And judging from the backlash, it looks like Facebook might want to start reconsidering their current business model of rolling out wholesale changes first, then releasing apologetic explanations later. People tend to remember the bad, and it leaves a bad taste in their mouths, making them prone to being suspicious of any future changes. The fact that you have no say over whether this page comes down or not makes it worse; you have to manually be careful of what you put up in the future. It’s a clear message – did you ever doubt in the first place? – that your wishes are of little consequence when they conflict with the faceless legions of advertisers that paid Facebook $1.3 billion as reported last month.
This puzzling decision (not really, right?) to make the Couples Page a mandatory feature that you don’t have the option to delete turns the volume up on the murmurs that Facebook might eventually be its own worst enemy. While benefitting from the generally more reliable sense of community that social networks tout as an advantage over search results from Google, Facebook seems to be slowly violating that very feature by becoming more and more transparently advertising-oriented. After all, how many people would even opt out of Couples Pages if given the choice, had it been presented in a better fashion? There’s certainly a sizable percentage of “true” couples that would be intrigued by it and choose to keep, and the social network giant would have preserved some consumer goodwill.Continued on the next page