First Facebook decided to downgrade everyone's idea of being a fan overnight to the non committal -- and extremely self serving -- "like" button, then it decided to let people hunt for the ways in which to preserve scraps of their own privacy. See a step by step guide on how to opt out and you'll know what I mean about good will hunting.
My own take is: never trust Facebook. Period. After all, it is all about managing expectations, even your own. It was only one year ago that we were wondering how we felt now that the network apparently thought it owned your content. Remember the Facebook Beacon brew-ha-ha?
Since many smarter than I are still wrapping their head around the recent Facebook f8 conference announcements, I thought it useful to provide some of their perspectives here as conversation starters.
I'm with Liz Gannes on Facebook’s Instant Personalization Is the Real Privacy Hairball. Although it's nice to walk into a favorite restaurant and get a warm personal welcome by a waiter, I would not expect the flower shop next door to know what I had for dinner.
In the post-f8 world, when you show up to Yelp having never been there before, the page will now show a feed of restaurants and stores that your Facebook friends have liked and reviewed using Yelp before you go there.
Why would you want to go against the grain with the very people who are creating content on your tool? I found myself nodding as I read Jeff Jarvis in Bizarro Identity:
I want the exact opposite of what Facebook did. I want the Bizarro Facebook. Instead of Facebook controlling my identity, I want to be able to control and publish and set access to and rules for the use of my identity online, allowing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, anyone access to it under my terms.
It's a bad idea to put all your data in one basket, especially if it's not yours to keep out of reach. Steve Hodson describes this is what can happen when a company controls your web presence:
The idea that a single company has that much control over your digital existence should be enough to scare anyone. Throw in the fact that Facebook is well known for its arbitrary suspending or deleting of accounts and if their march for dominance on the Web doesn’t worry you … well .. here’s some more kool-aid for you.
Even worse is tricking people into doing things without their explicit knowledge or permission. This is a major issue; Sarah Perez describes how to trick users into liking Facebook pages they're not on:
[...] it's simple to create a like button for a page you're not even on.
Using the wizard provided by Facebook, you can create a button for any URL you want and embed it on your site.
Why would anyone want to do this, you ask? While no self-respecting webmaster would want to deceive a visitor to their site, says Nandi, an "enterprising spammer" certainly would.
The problem is that the average Facebook user probably will not take the time to understand the implications of recent changes. To Facebook the answer must be no writes Dave Winer:
Facebook is to be the identity system for the web. A company? That just can't work. I can't believe he doesn't know that. Even Bill Gates didn't have the audacity to propose that!
In a later post, he adds:
perhaps there's a compromise? Let me implement my own Like feature and have it connect up to Facebook through a feed. And let it connect up to Facebook's competitors just as easily.
We should be all for finding different ways of doing something. Competition is healthy, it keeps checks and balances in place, and keeps our information backed up and us able to use it as we wish to, whenever and wherever we want to access it.
In an informal poll on Twitter yesterday, when asked they had more connections on Facebook or Twitter, people by and large responded Twitter. Devon Hopkins added a much needed reality check:
Here are some simple instructions on how to delete Facebook apps that now have greater access to your data. There's no such a thing as free online. You always trade something -- is trading with Facebook worth it?