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Is Facebook Clueless or Evil? Schrage’s Defense

May 13, 2010

Facebook VP of Public Policy Elliot Schrage recently answered reader questions for the New York Times. As a public service, here’s what he said, along with my opinions.

Schrage: “Our mission is for Facebook to be the best place in the world to connect and share with friends and family.”
My opinion: Facebook’s mission is to be the default place in the world to connect and share with everyone.

Schrage: “Our extensive efforts to provide users greater control over what and how they share appear to be too confusing for some of our more than 400 million users.”
My opinion: You gave them less control yet you still seem to think otherwise. They’re confused about why on earth you think you’ve given them more control. They’re confused because you created a confusing system.

Schrage: “We will soon ramp up our efforts to provide better guidance to those confused about how to control sharing and maintain privacy.”
My opinion: Start your “better guidance” with Mark Zuckerberg and work your way down.

Schrage: “We’ve found that a few fields of information need to be shared to facilitate the kind of experience people come to Facebook to have. That’s why we require the following fields to be public:…  connections (again, if people choose to make them)”
My opinion: People were used to sharing their interests with their friends, and nobody else. Now they can’t share their interests, they can now only make “connections”. It’s either share that with the world or with nobody at all.

Schrage: “We recognize that certain people may still want to share information about themselves through static text.  That’s why we continue to provide a number of places for doing this, including the Bio section of the profile”
My opinion: This was not by design. People were forced to do this because of your new all-or-nothing system, and you’re pointing it out as though it were something you cooked up all along. Forcing people to list their favorite movies under “Favorite Quotes” is not a system, it’s a hack.

Schrage: “Everything is opt-in on Facebook.  Participating in the service is a choice.“
My opinion: Now that’s one of the most disengenous things I’ve heard anyone say. There’s one big binary opt-in. Sign up with Facebook or don’t. After that, Facebook doesn’t seem to care what you want to opt-in or opt-out of.

Schrage: “We know that if you lose trust in Facebook, our cool new products won’t matter.”
My opinion: You’re knowing that firsthand, more and more each day.

Schrage: “We want to be trusted partners with our users in helping manage those tensions”
My opinion: If you say something enough times, it must be true.

Hello Facebook: You took away our ability to share our interests our your friends. You replaced it with “connections” that are either shared with the entire world or nobody at all. Can you seriously say that you don’t understand the difference? Can you seriously say that this is what people really want?  Which are you, clueless or evil? There – I’m giving you a choice, what more could you ask for?

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2 Comments
  1. tmacwords permalink

    Well said, Steve. Thank you for keeping us up-to-date on what’s happening with FB and their clueless CEO. Be too bad for it to go away but it could happen…my daughter doesn’t trust them, my son doesn’t trust them, my husband doesn’t trust them. Makes me wonder if I’m idiot not to jump on that train….

    • I need to also finish writing my defense of facebook post. Not defending what they’re doing now, but a glass half full look at what they have accomplished, what they could accomplish if they do things right, and what they risk losing if they don’t. It’s still cooking, not soup yet.

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