Jeff Jarvis penned an interesting piece on how Facebook should handle the current fiasco. Among his more poignant recommendations is that Facebook ought to “recognize how much their defaults matter.”
While this seems like great advice on its face, the thing that is so troubling about this whole episode is that Facebook, at its scale, knows the value of op-out more than any company in the world. Facebook understands that most people won’t bother to opt-out, and those that try to opt-out will be confused by the process and implications. Facebook is deliberately trying to increase the value of profiles, drive traffic, and increase the reach of its ad network.
The simple notion of having them delete your email address after you’ve already deleted your profile couldn’t have been made more complex.
Facebook, in response to the maelstrom, has suggested that: “You’re pointing out things we need to fix.” The problem with this defense is that it’s disingenuous. No small amount of thought that went into to disaggregating features and regrouping them into a morass of default opt-out options. In fact, since the new privacy features accomplish exactly what Facebook wanted, the fix to which they’re referring is not the design or outcome, but rather palliative: more carefully masking their intentions to avoid a quell.
Facebook has become a complex and invasive list business masquerading as a trusted platform for personal interaction. The mass market deserves better.