Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Facebook introduces new pricacy settings and Future gazing for social networking

You may remember my Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg when I asked to be able to set what parts of my profile could be viewed by different sets of my friends – family, social friends, business friends, my company friends etc. Yesterday, Facebook did introduce a limited range of new privacy settings. You are allowed to limit access by customising your privacy settings. But it is tortuous. You have to go through every friend and set a range of at least half a dozen settings for each (access to photos, videos, status reports etc.) With over 150 ‘friends’ I really don’t have the time - or inclination - to do this.

If only Zuckerberg had adopted my original suggestion, it would have been so simple. I could then have coded each of my ‘friends’ accordingly and set up a simple template of settings for each. Everytime a new ‘friend’ arrived I could say “He’s business, she’s family’ etc.

Also the new Facebook proposals do not allow me to have a different profile for my business and social contacts. My LinkedIn (and GLG) profile is quite different to my current Facebook profile. Personally I want one profile with added business and social bits. I’d either like them on the same network or have a centralised profile serving various social and business networks.

Everywhere and Nowhere

The article in today's Economist makes a very interesting point about social networks in general. It points out that 10 years ago Microsoft bought Hotmail but even now nobody has found a way of monetizing web mail services. Today AOL buys Bebo. Nobody has yet found - indeed the article suggests will ever find - a way of monetizing social networking sites. Today Webmail exists as part of your overall 'service' driving traffic to other parts of your site/service. Tomorrow 'social networking' will be viewed in much the same way.

Indeed the article suggests that today's social networking will look quaint in a few years time. Much in the way that I have argued above, you will get status updates, access to your friend's photos, profiles etc. 'in the air' as part of the 'service' you get from your email supplier, ISP or whatever. You will not need to log into Facebook, LinkedIn etc at all.

For 'social network' read 'social utility'. I rather warm to this concept and commend you to read the Economist article which, as ever, provides much 'food for thought'.
Note - Graphic Copyright The Economist 2008

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