NYT feature and Facebook Publisher

by on Jun.29, 2009, under general

Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb (syndicated to the New York Times) had a great article about Facebook privacy today that incorporated some stuff from my thesis/working paper. Marshall was nice enough to contact me before he ran the article to ask what I thought about the new Facebook Publisher.

Basically, Facebook is introducing a new Publisher that gives people easier access to (and more granularity over) what they publish to whom. While I don’t have access to the new Publisher yet, here’s what I told Marshall yesterday:

Then my tentative comment is that it’s a huge step in the right direction. The tremendous social utility of the Publisher (and the posted-links functionality before it) was always compromised by very limited (and limiting) privacy controls. Audience and appropriateness are inversely related: as the audience of Facebook broadened, the sort of content one could appropriately post to it narrowed. I know I began to self-censor much more after I became Friends with a few bosses and relatives. In this sense, robust privacy controls don’t only benefit users, they also benefit Facebook, because the more secure users feel in the Facebook environment, the more they feel like sharing.

To that end, this is a good move. Whether the technical execution will work is another question, but I’m glad to see that Facebook has this on their radar.

I feel like that is fundamentally true, and it’s still a nutshell argument of my thesis. Hopefully Facebook is taking this in the right direction, although I am still concerned about some of the defaults. Facebook is giving its users new tools, but not necessarily a new environment. That’s good, but it’s not best, and we’ll see how this plays out.

Anyway, if you’re here from the NYT or RWW (or elsewhere I suppose) welcome. I’d love to hear any of your thoughts on my research (as I’m trying to revise/develop it into something a little more revised – I wish Marshall had specified it was simply a working paper).

Shoutout to danah boyd too for sending out the tweet that got this on Marshall’s radar.

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