A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Facebook, Privacy and Online Marketing

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Nice summary and commentary from EFF on Facebook’s move toward better privacy controls for their users.

That’s good news for Facebook fans and folks with wee ones on Facebook who are worried about their safety.

It will be interesting to see how this increased attention on personal privacy will mesh with Facebook’s increasing popularity and friendliness toward business and marketers.

Yesterday’s coverage of an issue with privacy in some Facebook applications makes it clear that Facebook is going to be hard-pressed not to make member information available to marketers. That’s where nearly all of the company value is. (So you know the Newark Schools are rooting for them to maximize the value.)

I’m sure they’ll be pressured to make any and all info sharing opt-in rather than opt-out, and will have to monitor application makers for compliance.

But the fact is, some of the games and applications need that information to make the connections between friends that make the applications fun or useful in the first place. That means people will continue to click “yes” when asked to share their personal data.

That process is going to have to become both simpler and more granular at the same time, making it easy for less tech-savvy members to understand what they’re agreeing to, and to control exactly what info they’re sharing with different applications.

What will be interesting is who pushes harder – consumers, who might push to have a bare minimum of info shared, and marketers, who simply might say, “Tough. This is what you need to share to play our game or join our contest.”

I know which side my money would be on, but sometimes the network surprises you.

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