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Thursday, December 06, 2007


Tyler Willis

Any generalization that big is wrong (opt-in for EVERYTHING is the smart business strategy). There are of course times when opt-out is the better strategy. Otherwise it wouldn't exist.

Great post. The trait I most admire in people is the ability to rethink positions. With that said, I think you are more right than wrong on this.

One of your points that raised a flag for me was that companies have a responsibility to educate people about privacy. I'm not sure that they have a responsibility as much as an opportunity. They won't suffer to many consequences by not being proactive on privacy, but if they educate users properly they gain trust which leads to a much more active/loyal userbase.

I'm thinking specifically of Mint here, many people don't know how their data flows in and out of mint, so they assume the worst. Having gone (very-slightly) more in depth, I feel they have a reasonable security proposition, something most people that talk about Mint aren't clear on. This is a great example of how education could lead to increased profits.

Joel York

What surprises is me is that people are surprised by this fiasco at all. I am by no means a privacy whiner, ultimately FaceBook will segment its own user base based on it's privacy practices...those who don't like them will leave. But, the real issue here is risk, not revenue. And, the business drivers that caused the Beacon problem are still in place.

Consider this food for thought:
1) The fundamental monetization model as of today barters user privacy for their use of the application (advertisers want their data).
2) Since the $$ comes from advertisers, there will be unrelenting pressure to invade user privacy and/or avoid opt-in whenever possible.
3) $300M hires a lot of people FAST, and it is easy to lose control of policy for this team or that, not to mention 3rd parties.
4) The trust ante has actually been raised for social networks. Just as Web 1.0 privacy and trust issues sprung from Web 1.0 technologies, such as cookies and tracking a user’s Web surfing behavior, Web 2.0 issues will center on the much more delicate and private matters of personal profile information, social relationships and heretofore private interactions among friends, colleagues, acquaintances, customers and strangers.
5) Users might not care, but their parents might, and the press and bloggers certainly do. PR disasters are catalytic events, and the next one will not be starting from ground zero. This is strike one for Facebook.

All this aside...I am actually a Facebook fan. I just hope they are smart enough to get it right. Forget the privacy whiners...opt in for EVERYTHING is the smart business strategy.


I guess that I'm not so quick to trust the users as some of your critics are. Who would have "wanted" Twitter in the past? Or Flickr? Or even a Blog? All these broadcasting technologies express impulses that people may have had years ago, but they were unable to articulate them until these services were created. The crowd can only sift through change- it can't articulate it. Who knows if Beacon is just like Newsfeed- a misunderstood tool to build a more efficient web?

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