May 2010 – Stay N Alive

My Favorite Things: Spotify, the Social Music Streaming Service

I’ve been thinking about a new series for awhile.  The idea is I get to share my favorite applications, gadgets, and services that I use on a regular basis.  Each one I am either already paying for or I would have paid for in a minute if they had not already sent me a free copy (and some I even pay for anyway just because I want to support the company since I like it so much).  This is your peak into my life and the things I use on a day-to-day basis.  These are the things that were so good they got me to spend time out of my busy schedule to share with you.  Listen carefully to these, as these are truly the technologies I really, really enjoy and I think you will too.  The first of these, which I’ve been trying to write about for awhile now, is an iTunes competitor called Spotify.

As I write this, I’m sitting here, listening to Dave Morin, a Facebook friend’s playlist of 90s music and none of it is hosted on either of our computers.  I’m listening to Sugar Ray’s “Every Morning”, and the cool thing is I haven’t even downloaded the song yet!  Spotify is a 100% cloud-based subscription service based in the UK where you pay a monthly fee, and get to stream as much high quality as you like to your computer.

Spotify’s database is amazing!  While there are some rarer songs that are harder to find, Spotify has been able to satisfy just about every search query I’ve given it, providing me with music all over the world in just a few clicks.  New releases come out on the service almost as quick as they come out on iTunes, and some like Mika’s new album even get exclusive release on the service earlier than they release in stores (Mika’s had an overlay for the pre-release time asking you to purchase the album).

Every song on the service can be added to a playlist, which, as I’ll show in a minute, all your friends can then subscribe to and also listen.  You can easily access any of your playlists, and it also keeps track of your searches so you can go back and access those as well.

Each song can be added to a playlist, or you can view your friends’ playlists

Social Integration

Spotify has the most amazing social integration of any music service I’ve used so far.  I think of it as “Twitter lists, for music”.  If you link your Facebook account it will immediately show you the playlists of all your friends, and you can “subscribe” to the playlists you like and have them appear in your sidebar for listening later.

In addition to subscription to friends’ lists, sharing is quite simple as well.  Just right-click on any song, click “Send to”, and you’re given the option to immediately share that song to Twitter, Facebook, or even friends on the Spotify service.  Your friends can then listen to the song on Spotify and add it to their lists as well.  I’ve found myself listening more to my friends’ music than my own playlists, discovering all kinds of new music, and music that I have not heard in ages via this means.  Remember listening to music with your high school buddies?  Now you can do so again through Spotify’s social integration.

Clicking on the “What’s New” tab not only gives me a customized view based on my listening habits of new music tailored for me, but I also get a feed of my friends’ listening activities.  I can see, in real-time what all my friends are listening to and check out what they are interested in right then and there.

Clicking “What’s New” gives me a feed of what all my friends are listening to


With a near $20/month subscription, any user of Spotify can also download any of the music streamed on the service.  This way if you don’t have an internet connection later you can still listen to the music with no problem.  You can even take it further though – in any friend’s list, if you swipe a box next to “Available Offline”, all of that friend’s list will download to your computer for listening later.  This makes it easy to bring the entire musical experience with you no matter where you go.

Mobile App

I actually loved the service so much that I proxied the service so I could pay them the monthly fee (I had a free blogger copy) just so I could try out the iPhone app.  The iPhone app provides most of the same functionality as the desktop application, and also gives you full ability to download music for listening when you don’t have a connection in the car.  I’ve found the music quality on the iPhone is not quite as clear as the iPhone’s native iPod player, but it is still good, and worth using.  The service is also available on Android and Symbian devices.

Spotify’s iPhone version

US Release?

Spotify currently is only available outside the United States, and to select bloggers in a limited US trial.  I originally got access to the service for free, but I liked it so much I am now paying the monthly fee just to support the service.  Rumors abound about a US release, but it is still unclear on when this will happen.

So, if you’re in the UK or any of the areas Spotify is available, be sure to check it out and give it a try.  For those of us in the US, we’ll be stuck waiting until the US music industry gets its gear in order, contracts are signed, and we too will have the opportunity to try out the goodness that is Spotify.  Spotify is the most amazing music service I’ve ever used, and I quickly find it replacing my usage of iTunes and even social streaming services like and Pandora Radio.  Spotify has revolutionized the way I listen to music.  If you can, I highly recommend you check it out.

Facebook Shows its Hand in Privacy

I spoke earlier how I didn’t buy the claims against Mark Zuckerberg trying to steal away our privacy and con people into becoming more public if they didn’t chose to do so. Today Facebook made that even more clear in a press conference I attended by phone by stating their intentions, and introducing an even newer, more simplified, more granular privacy control model that launches today.

The new settings enable, via simple controls, for users to chose at a high level whether they just want friends to see their data, whether they want friends of friends to see their data, or whether they want to customize that data at a piece-by-piece level.  Users that set this will then default to this setting with any new feature Facebook releases in the future, making users able to be confident their privacy will not change.  In addition, Facebook is enabling users to opt out of the “Instant Personalization” settings completely.  Instant Personalization enables third party websites that have partnered with Facebook to, with the user’s ability to opt out, collect user information with the intent to make the experience for that user more personalized and more relevant on each site that implements these controls.  Users will be able to opt out of this completely, and also set granular controls as to how applications have control over their privacy.  Users will also be able to control how people see them in the Facebook search and directory much better with the new settings.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO and founder, had a sincere tone at the press conference, wanting to be absolute sure they had no ill will, nor intentions to sell user data to advertisers, or disrespect user privacy in the process.  He was very clear that along with allowing people and helping them to be more open and share better, Facebook held the same priority towards enabling users to have complete control over how public, or private that data was as they used the site.  He admitted they rushed to launch their previous features and hoped that this new round of more simplified settings made it easier to understand what users were getting into, and at the same time allowed them to set specific settings to their comfort level on the site.

I think Facebook laid down to rest any concerns users have had about privacy.  They showed their hand, and, while a Full House at Facebook, I think those that just quit Facebook over privacy will be forced to fold.

Facebook will be gradually rolling out the new settings to all users starting today.  If you’re in Utah, be sure to watch Fox 13 KSTU at 5:30pm and 9pm (you can watch online here) for more as I discuss these new settings with Nineveh Dinha.  I’ll try to post those videos later.  See screenshots of the new settings below:

Want Your Business in a Dummies Book?

I’m looking for concrete examples of businesses, large and small, that have seen firm success by integrating Facebook either as an application, a Page, or on their own website via Facebook Connect or Facebook Graph API.  If you have analytics and statistics to back up your claim, I’d like to get quotes from you on how Facebook’s API has helped your business.  The best ones I’ll be including in Facebook Application Development for Dummies.

This is a great opportunity for your business or website, as your brand will be promoted, pushed, and shared with an audience of thousands (wouldn’t it be cool if it were millions?) of readers worldwide, in a brand that is recognized in bookstores everywhere.  So if you, or someone you know has a great story to tell about how the Facebook API has helped your business, I’d like to share those case studies with my readers.  The best ones I’d like to also try and share on this blog if you’re okay with it.  Feel free to share them in the comments if you want everyone to see, or send them to

Oh, and and not to show preference, but if anyone has any good contacts at Digg – I really want to see if their integration of Facebook Connect has helped.  I think that would be a great example to share – send them my way if you think they might be interested.

This book is a group effort – I hope to include you in many more opportunities like this, so keep reading and subscribing!

Pornography and Choice – The Dilemma Over the Future of Open

I’ve been following the Ryan Tate late-night rant (language) over Steve Jobs’ desire for a world “free from porn” and his objections therein (while still not completely sure the purpose for his rant).  While pornography was only one of the things Jobs highlighted, Tate, who has no children of his own, seemed to focus on it, considering a world “free from porn” an infringement on his own privacies.  I’d like to take a different angle and share my own views, as a parent of 4 children, and how I really feel the web as we know it infringes my own freedom as a parent.  It also infringes on my children’s own freedom, in the the native choices technology-wise that I have access to in order to protect my children and my family from pornography.  That’s right, I said it (well, I’ve said it before) – the web, while open, is not entirely free.  Let me explain.

Let me start with the point that, while outside this blog I may have my own opinions and beliefs, I am not saying in any way or form whether porn is “evil”, or “not evil”, or whether it is “good”, or “bad” for society.  That is not the purpose of this article, and I’ll leave that for you to decide.  One thing I think we can all agree on however is that, for good or for bad, pornography affects us all, and, as an individual, or father of 4 children, I don’t have much choice in the matter.  Let’s face it – whether I want it or not, my children are going to see porn, probably many, many times in their life, perhaps way before they are old enough to even know what it is.  As a parent, at least the way the open web works, at a native level I don’t have any choice in that matter.  Is that freedom?

Right now we live on a very open web.  It’s a vast web, linked together from website to website, which enables sites like Google and MSN and others to index that content and provide answers to many questions.  We have a whole lot more knowledge because of that.  At the same time it’s a very wild west atmosphere – the very “Net Neutrality” we are all fighting for is keeping any sort of control that parents and families so desperately want for their children from accidentally stumbling on things they don’t want to see.  This is probably why much more closed environments like Facebook are thriving – we’re being given some level of control, as parents and individuals, over this very open atmosphere.  We need an open way to fix this problem.  Or maybe closed is the only solution…

Let me share an example:  My daughter, who is 9 (not even starting puberty yet), told us the story of her friends at school talking about various sexual topics.  She told us about one friend, a boy, who wanted to know what sex was, so he Googled “sex” on the internet, something he knew how to do from school when he had a question about how something works or what something was.  Needless to say, as parents, at age 9, we were fortunate enough to have our daughter ask about this before Googling herself, but we were now forced to give “the talk” to a 9 year old.  I can only imagine that boy’s parents – I hope he talked with them about what he found.

As a father of 4, I’m scared to death what my kids are going to have to go through.  I certainly don’t want to shelter them from the world, but at the same time I want to be the one introducing them to the world, not the world getting to them first.  We need innovation in this area.  I’m worried it’s an area that gets little attention because the innovators in this space either aren’t parents themselves, or have no objections to their children seeing it.  The thing is, this isn’t a “good” vs. “bad” battle.  This is a battle about true “freedom”.  This isn’t about anyone telling you that you can’t watch porn.  This is about those on the web that don’t want to watch it or come across it being able to avoid it entirely, as a native component of the web.

Right now all the solutions out there are hacks.  Solutions like (my favorite – I’ll be doing a review soon) Net Nanny, Norton Internet Security, and others are great at helping parents to monitor what their kids are doing and even protecting them from things their parents don’t want them to see, but in reality they’re just solving a problem the web should have solved in the first place.  Pornography, sexual content, violence, or anything else we, as parents and individuals want a handle over should be elements that are handled at the core of the web.  The web needs elements to identify this type of content, and ways to punish those that don’t identify their content, taking away the overall freedom that is inherent to the web.  The web should be about choice.  It’s not at the moment.

At the same time, operating systems, like Windows, OS X, the iPad, Android, and the iPhone, all need to have layers built in that give parents and individuals more control over the content they want to see.  I should note that Facebook, at the moment, has no way for me as a parent to monitor what my child is doing on the site – I can’t let my kids on it until I have that control.  Don’t even get me started about Google Chat.

I’m not quite sure what the solution is, but we need innovation in this area.  Perhaps XRD or the new JRD and identifiers for content are the solution.  Maybe Google and Microsoft and others that index this content could reward sites with higher search rankings that properly identify their data.  Maybe a “.xxx” TLD is the solution.  At the same time we have to take into account chat, and how people interact online.  Maybe verified identity is the solution in this area.  On the open web we can’t give up on this effort though, or the more closed solutions, like Jobs inferred with the iPad, are going to win, and rightfully so.

Steve Jobs is right, whether Ryan Tate likes it or not – as a parent I am not free on the web right now.  The only freedom I have is to just turn off the computer, keep my kids from learning technology at a young age, and hope they don’t see it at school, or at a friends’ house, or the elsewhere (which they will).  Freedom is about choice – we should all have the choice in this matter, and that choice just doesn’t exist on the web at the moment.  I hope the Open Web can fix these problems before Apple, or Microsoft, or Facebook do it in a closed environment.  Either way, I welcome the extra freedom I will get from it.

From one parent to another:  Thank you Steve, for trying to make my life as a parent a little more “free”.

Adobe and Google Sitting in a Tree? Or Did Adobe Just Pwn Google?

There’s something really fishy going on with Adobe’s “I ♥ Apple” Ad campaign.  You might have noticed it yesterday as you were browsing websites such as TechCrunch and Google Reader.  Basically, somehow Adobe got around Google’s “no popups” ad policy for Adsense and for those on Macs and for some reason Opera web browsers.  For users visiting sites with a specific Adsense ad image installed, Adobe was displaying an ad that said “I ♥ Apple”, trying to convince users of Apple operating systems that Apple was in the wrong.  The ad was then causing a popup window on the page – I couldn’t open TechCrunch without a popup appearing, and I know TechCrunch didn’t put it there.

Aside from the existing issues of how effective such a campaign is already, what is really baffling is how Adobe was using their own Flash to get around Adsense’s security measures preventing popups.  Jimminy Fuller investigated this last night, and gave me this explanation:

Since the ad was being handled by Google Adsense, this shouldn’t have been happening.  It’s forbidden under the Adsense TOS, so I went to see if this pop-up was actually occurring.   I couldn’t recreate the issue though for one reason: the ads were selective.

Selective ads? First thing that popped into my head was that they were performing a User-Agent check, a hunch that proved fruitful, later on. I ended up rooting around and finally was able to find some rendered code for the ad, at which point I went digging into the source to see if I could find the User-Agent check.  I found that pretty quickly and noticed a little quirk where they were also messing with Opera users, I
assume because Opera also recently turned a cold shoulder to Adobe’s Flash platform.

So I spent a little time analyzing what was going on in the ad besides just the selective pop up, but couldn’t come up with anything determinate as to how they were getting the set of scripts embedded into their ad. What I did find out while analyzing their ad, was that they were using primarily javascript (ironically), lots of it, which did all the preemptive work in analyzing what your browser and OS, were, as well as if you had Flash 8, or higher, installed.  If they were able to match the User-Agent, to either a Mac or Opera, and you had Flash installed, they would force a window open that held a Flash element, otherwise the ad was only activated if you clicked upon it.

That’s the very basic analysis of what this ad was doing, but it means that either Google allowed them to do this, or that Adobe basically ignored Google’s rules, and managed to manipulate the ad System to relay this message, I assume the latter. This is quite disturbing, however, because if Adobe, without Google’s consent, can manipulate the ad code, in such a way, it means that there is a possibility for it to be used as an exploit vector. Google has since pulled the ad, it had about a 10 hour stint, but I wonder if we’ll hear anything from any of the parties involved, particularly Google or Adobe.

You can read more details of Jimminy’s evaluation here on his blog.

adobe popup

Adobe brought up this popup when you visited certain websites like Google Reader

What Jimminy found is quite disturbing.  As he said, the fact that Adobe was able to get around the popups rule either means Google had a specific relationship for this partner, in which they were willing to make an exception to the popup rule, or Adobe Pwn’d perhaps the only viable potential partner they have in the battle to come, revealing even a greater hole in Google’s code allowing other parties to potentially exploit any website with Adsense installed.

Adobe certainly has its own issues, and rightly so, but exposing flaws in Google’s ad code and taking advantage of perhaps your greatest partner isn’t the best way to fix those issues.  I really hope we hear from Adobe or Google on why these Popups were allowed.  We talk about Facebook and privacy, but if Adobe can get around Google’s safeguards, and deploy specific Javascript commands on any website that deploys Adsense, I think Google may be the one with issues here and I hope this gets fixed.

Mark Zuckerberg – A Cheater? A Stealer? I’m Calling Calacanis’ Bluff

Mark ZuckerbergI give – I call.  I’m getting really tired over all the “I’m deleting my Facebook because they have gone corrupt” posts all over the place.  Some of the smartest minds in the industry (and those I respect most) are all doing it, even Leo Laporte, and it’s breaking my heart.  I don’t understand how any of these people can talk about Facebook with any grain of salt after this without some level of bias.  How can you talk legibly about Facebook from here on out if you’re not using the service?  How can you know how to compete properly if you’re not using your competitors’ products (ahem, Matt Cutts)?  How can you know whom to invest in unless you’re truly trying out all the biggest players in the game?  It doesn’t make sense to me.

Jason Calacanis wrote a scathing letter to his e-mail list today just ripping apart Mark Zuckerberg, coining a term I’m not sure I want to repeat here since it’s almost a curse word (okay, he coined the term, “Zucked”).  He called Zuckerberg a liar, a cheater, a backstabber, and even inferred he had Asperger’s-like tendencies (which anyone who has or knows someone with Asperger’s should be offended).  According to Calacanis:

“Zuckerberg represents the best and worst aspects of entrepreneurship.
His drive, skill and fearlessness are only matched by his long
record–recorded in lawsuit after lawsuit–of backstabbing, stealing
and cheating.”

I’ve heard elsewhere Zuckerberg compared to a Nazi, and other Facebook employees all “drinking the Kool-Aid” they were being served there.  I’ve been called names myself for supporting them.  I really feel bad for those at Facebook right now – quite honestly, as a company, despite their audience, they’re not that big!  Bullying them certainly isn’t going to help.

Let’s address the Zynga issue that Calacanis seems to be basing much of his letter on (the reason Calacanis calls Zuckerberg a liar and stealer).  As a Facebook developer myself, and having addressed, consulted and discussed with many very successful Facebook developers as both a consultant and author of Facebook development books (see the upper-right, and a Dummies book on the way), I’ve seen the pain of many, much more than just Zynga, that have been affected by what Calacanis is talking about.  Zynga is the last of the successful developers that managed to make millions by building applications on top of itself.  I know one  developer that went from 0 to 2 million users in just a couple weeks in the early days of – it was a mad GoldRush!

The problem, however is that none of these developers adapted.  Facebook gave them all the tools they needed to adapt and move outside the platform, and I’ve seen very few actually take Facebook up on that offer.  Facebook gave the hints that they were pushing in that direction and no one followed.  Zynga is just now realizing that as they build their own website – it’s the smart thing to do, and Facebook hasn’t abandoned them in the process.  Facebook, in fact, has pushed Zynga in that direction, offering tools, plugins, protocols, and many other ways of building outside the Facebook platform, while still enabling them to maintain their existing user base on itself.  Zynga’s finally doing the smart thing here, and Facebook wants that to happen!

The crazy thing here is Zynga probably has one of the closest relationships with Facebook of any Facebook developer I know.  Sure, Facebook is trying to make money off of what Zynga does in their own environment, but can you blame them?  It’s Facebook’s own environment.  They have every right to control their own IP, and every developer on the platform should know that by now – I’ve written about it many times.  Every company needs a core. I’m a little jealous of the relationship Zynga has built with Facebook though – there is no reason to feel bad for them.  And they’re now working on their own core as Facebook helps them through that process.  I don’t see anyone lying, cheating, or stealing from anyone here.  Is Facebook supposed to be giving their IP away?  I don’t get it.

Now let’s talk privacy.  Were you aware that Facebook actually gives users a chance to debate privacy policy changes when they go into place?  For every change to Facebook’s terms that goes into place, users have the opportunity to complain, react, and share their feelings in whatever manner they feel necessary about new changes put into place.  The November policy changes (which were probably the biggest recent change) were proposed here (if you really have problems with the Privacy changes you really should subscribe to the updates, that is, unless you’re no longer a Facebook user):

“Facebook has proposed an updated privacy policy. We encourage you to view the proposal and offer your comments here <> by 12:00 PM PDT on November 5, 2009. For future policy updates, become a fan of the Facebook Site Governance Page.”

When this was proposed, users were overwhelmingly for the changes.  Comments were overwhelmingly in a positive tone, resulting in the changes being adopted.  Had users complained back then, the changes would not have gone into place.  This is actually the same process that got Beacon reversed.  New changes were again proposed on March 26, shortly before F8, when the OpenGraph initiative was announced.  Users again overwhelmingly supported the changes, and on April 22, the new changes were accepted.  It was on April 23 that Matt Cutts, and others deleted their Facebook accounts – I’m very curious if they even tried to make their concerns known on the Site Governance site.  It should also be noted that Facebook issued press releases for each of these proposed updates – Mashable covered it.  ReadWriteWeb covered it.  So did TechCrunch, in vivid detail.

So I don’t get it – Facebook is opening up more than they have ever before (despite these same people calling them a Walled Garden before).  They’re the only site out there with a policy in place that actually lets users vote on privacy and policy changes.  They’re the only site out there with the ability to provide any level of granularity towards privacy (did you know you can specify specific groups, exclude specific individuals and groups, and get very specific with exactly who sees your status updates on Facebook?  That’s only the beginning.).  Facebook seems to be making all the right moves, yet they’re Nazis.  They’re liars.  They’re cheaters.  They’re stealers.  All this doesn’t compute!  I don’t see Google doing any of this.  And talk about taking developers out of business – Google’s the biggest culprit of all!

I’m sorry Jason, but calling names isn’t how you win Poker either.  It’s time we start encouraging Facebook’s moves, hoping they continue this momentum to become more open.  It’s time we start educating users that they get to vote on this stuff before it goes live (which they did!).  It’s time we start helping to get the word out to users on what is private and what is not in their Facebook accounts now that the changes have gone into place.

I’m sorry, but I’m getting sick of all the bloggers and so-called “experts” complaining about this when they didn’t do anything to stop it in the first place.  This, especially, when we’re given so many options!  Right now they’re all starting to sound like a bunch of complainers to me.  Am I really the only one that sees this?  I feel like I’m the only one writing about it.  Maybe it’s time I fold, or is everyone else just bluffing?

Yes, Facebook Broke Your Trust, and Yes, That’s a Good Thing

It seems like every other post I read these days is about whether Facebook violated users trust, or whether they were wrong, or right in opening up more.  It’s eerily repetitive for someone that’s written 2 (and 3rd on the way) books on the subject and who’s been following Facebook pretty intimately for the past 3 or more years since they launched their platform and exploded like wildfire.  Originally, it was “Facebook is too private”, or “Facebook is a walled garden”.  Suddenly, Facebook opens up, and it happens again, but this time “Facebook is too open”, or “Facebook killed privacy”, or “My trust has been violated”.  I don’t know why it bugs me, because this happens every year, some times a few times a year, and Facebook still keeps exploding like wildfire.

I’ve been debating this privacy post for awhile now, but I really want to get some thoughts out.  For a long time before Facebook became “open”, I had a post in mind where I really wanted to share why I thought Facebook’s “private by default” rules were cheating its users.  At the time, users were sharing information, but they really didn’t know that, despite the “walled garden” they were in, it was pretty easy to do a quick search on them, and, with just a simple Facebook account you could have their work history, name, location, picture, parties they got drunk at, and much, much more information all available to the public.  Look at this picture – this was in 2007!  Heck, even as far back as 2005 all they had to be is a friend to get access to that information – you apply for the job, they send a request, you accept because you want the job, and voila, all that information, exposed.  (Note that this picture doesn’t reveal the fact that most people didn’t lock down the pictures they saved)

Image courtesy, via Matt McKeon.

In the book I wrote with Jason Alba way back in 2007 (I’m on Facebook–Now What???), we shared these exact concerns – they were nothing new.  We shared the example of the “30 Reasons Girls Should Call it a Night” Group on Facebook, and warned, “Always be careful with what you put online, anywhere… photos, comments, thoughts, opinions.  Don’t write or upload something you might later regret!” (Chapter 8, Page 76).  We shared examples of people getting fired from their jobs simply because their friends were co-workers when they stated they were going to be sick and posted about partying all day on their Facebook profile.  We also shared (Page 44) that basically all your information was available to your friends and your entire network(s) by default at the time.  Remember – this was back in 2007.  Facebook had this problem way back then, and it’s amazing that this stuff is still very applicable!

The problem with starting out private is that users are being tricked into thinking their data will never be exposed.  It’s too difficult to know what is open, and what is private.  Sure, privacy controls are cool and all, but what good are they if no one knows how to use them and everyone just assumes that everything they put on the service will remain between just them and their “friends”?

That’s the dilemma Facebook “faced” as they had a “private by default” mentality.  In reality, being “private by default” was bad for the users because the users were being tricked into thinking their data could never become public.  Let’s face it – anything with a search box at the top that lets you search amongst at a minimum your friends, but in reality, at least since 2007 and even earlier, has the potential for the information you shared on that service to be discovered by anyone on the network itself.

Facebook had to make data public by default for them to be fair to their users.  Facebook was in a tough position to be in, but it was a necessary “evil” for the better good of their service.  Now, users can know with 100% certainty that the data they share is public by default and they should be careful before sharing it.

“But, Facebook should have made that opt-in”, you say?  The problem with that is Facebook would have still been cheating their users.  Instead, Facebook sent an e-mail to all their users notifying them of the change, and gave them the opportunity to opt-out.  In addition, the next time you logged into Facebook, all users (note that, according to Facebook’s stats, over half of Facebook users log in at least once daily) were prompted to adjust their privacy settings if they didn’t agree with the changes.  They did that again as they added new features, and thus, new privacy settings you could opt out of.

The fact is that Facebook had to open up in order for them to be fair to their users.  In my opinion, Facebook was being unfair to their users by not being open by default.  The fact is, regardless of this change, Facebook still has the best privacy controls of any service out there, and still gives you the most control over your privacy, but at the same time everyone now knows they have to set it to be so if they choose to be private.  At the same time everyone now knows they should now think twice before posting that drunk photo of them at the party last night.  At the same time we are becoming a much more open, less anonymous society.

Privacy is good.  So is openness.  Identity is good.  Anonymity is not.  By making Facebook a more open place, they are encouraging us, as a society to be more open about what we share.  They’re encouraging us to become more forgiving of one another.  They’re encouraging us to do fewer things in closets, and encouraging more to come out.  They’re encouraging entire regimes to share more, and thus, changing the world in the process.

While Facebook broke all of our trust, I think they’re making it right by making us a much more open society.  They’re removing anonymity amongst us in the process, and we’re growing because of it.  I hope they continue to build privacy controls.  At the same time I hope they continue to encourage us to be a more open people.  Let’s stop lying to ourselves – your data, when on the web, is almost never 100% private.  We need to stop cheating ourselves of that fact.