Facebook has contradicted itself with this week’s two announcements. On the one hand the social media site shared an alarming, privacy-invading tool that would allow friends to ask users for more information. However, on the other hand it has scaled back the amount of information that will be available publically.
In the most recent news, the new privacy tool will see new users automatically set to only sharing updates and information with friends. They will then be given the option to share the information publically if they wish. Current users will soon see pop-ups appear that alert them about who they are sharing information with, and that they can easily change that. Some users may be alarmed to find out Facebook had previously had their settings to public, meaning information was available to anybody online.
It has been a welcome introduction, but has left many users confused. At the start of the week, the “ask” feature was introduced. This would allow users to contact their friends and ask for information that had not been previously shared. This would include current location, relationship status and other information that users want to keep to themselves. The “ask” button would appear on anything that has not been shared, and there is no way to opt out of it. Users can ignore requests, but friends will know that they are being ignored.
Facebook is contradicting itself with its two announcements this week, and it makes it confusing for users. Will the site focus on being more privacy-centric, or is the latter announcement just something to make users feel like it is listening. People will be forgiven for believing that it is just a ploy. After all, the social networking giant has been at the forefront of privacy complaints for some time now, and would probably like to get away from those. It needs to compete with other apps and social networking sites that do offer users more privacy.
Contradicting itself with the two announcements will not be good for business. Users will be conscious of any update that happens, and will start to question any new update that the site offers. They will look deep into the meanings of the announcements and wonder just what Facebook will gain. This is especially the case when it comes to private data that the site continually wants people to share.
There is one catch to the privacy check-up update. Those who choose to make a post public will find that that change occurs for all later posts. It remains that way until the user chooses to making it for friends only again. This is something that Facebook is not being very upfront about, and could risk some users sharing information with strangers without meaning to. Some have even questioned whether the privacy check-up addition is actually a way to convince people to go public with updates without realizing.
It is time that social media sites are upfront about all their announcements. They also need to start respecting the privacy of their users. Facebook seems to be listening to that, but has contradicted itself with its latest two updates this week and that concerns many users.
Opinion by Alexandria Ingham