Mike Arrington of TechCrunch has a blog post entitled Facebook Users Revolt, Facebook Replies where he writes
There has been an overwhelmingly negative public response to Facebook’s launch of two new products yesterday.
The products, called News Feed and Mini Feed, allow users to get a
quick view of what their friends are up to, including relationship
changes, groups joined, pictures uploaded, etc., in a streaming news
format. Many tens of thousands of Facebook users are not happy with the changes. Frank Gruber notes that a Facebook group has been formed called “Students Against Facebook News Feed”. A commenter
in our previous post said the group was closing in on 100,000 members
as of 9:33 PM PST, less than a day after the new features were
launched. There are rumors of hundreds of other Facebook groups calling
for a removal of the new features.
A site calling to boycott Facebook on September 12 has also been put up, as well as a petition to have the features removed. Other sites are popping up as well. There seems to be no counterbalancing group or groups in favor of the changes.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has responded personally, saying “Calm down. Breathe. We hear you.” and “We didn’t take away any privacy options.”
I gave the new features a thumbs up yesterday and stick by my review. No new information is being made available about users.
Facebook privacy settings remain in their previous state, meaning you
can have your information available throughout the network or just
among your closest friends. Don’t want a particular piece of
information to be syndicated out even to them? Remove any single piece
of data by simply clicking the “x” button next to it and it will not
appear in the news feed.
If this feature had been part Facebook since the beginning, their
users would be screaming if Facebook tried to remove it. It’s a
powerful way to quickly get lots of information about people you care
about, with easy settings to remove that information for privacy
reasons. No one can see anything that they couldn’t see yesterday. It’s
just being distributed more efficiently.
I agree that the main problem with the feature is that it is “new”
as opposed to any privacy implications. We’ve faced similar problems
when designing some of the features of http://spaces.live.com
and my advice to the Facebook team would be that it may be better to
allow people to opt out of being in feeds than to argue with users
about whether it is a privacy violation or not.
That’s a battle that they are not likely to win. Better to be seen
as respecting your users wishes as opposed to being paternalistic overlords who think they know what's best for them. Don't make the same mistake Friendster made with fakesters.