Not Ready for Sharing

December 6th, 2007

I was pleased to see Facebook do the right thing by letting users opt completely out of Beacon.  From the uproar it seemed clear that the world just wasn’t ready for that level of sharing.

Social networks make it really easy to share, but sometimes users want to keep things private, and making sure that certain information doesn’t get out can be easier said than done.  Case in point for me was an experience I had last week.  A couple I know, both avid Facebook users, separated.  I found this out when I logged in one morning to find that both had updated their relationship status.

I sent them a note and one responded that she had tried to keep things quiet by removing relationship status from her profile entirely, but forgot that the change itself would go into her news feed.

I think there is no way out of this.  From what I can see, I can change my relationship status or I can remove the status from my profile entirely, but either way the action goes into my news feed.  In other words, there is no way to choose not to share that information without telling my network that I’ve stopped sharing.

The lesson here for me is that once I have opted in I may not be able to opt out without bringing more attention.  Trying to close the barn door may itself let the horses out.  This is good to keep in mind.

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