Darren Waters

Facebook's emphasis on the social

  • Darren Waters
  • 26 Feb 09, 20:02 GMT

I've just come off the phone with Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, who has been explaining a little more about the changes taking place at the social network, which are designed to "democratise" how the website behaves and operates in the future.

"Openness", "transparency" and "dialogue" were the three words he used more than any other in the course of my five-minute slot with him.

Facebook has responded quickly and boldly to what Zuckerberg himself called a "firestorm" from users after the firm had made changes to its terms of services without informing any of its users.

"We should have been communicating more broadly. Being as transparent as possible is a really valuable thing," said Mr Zuckerberg in relation to that recent controversy.

"We made a few mistakes," he admitted.

Some people might be wondering what the fuss is exactly about? After all, nobody ever reads the terms and conditions or terms of service documents on a website.

And that is part of the issue. As more and more of our lives are shifting to the network and as we hand over increasingly huge chunks of personal data to faceless websites important questions have to be asked about what happens to that information.

Social networks are becoming a mirror to not just our public lives but also to our private lives. And there is huge value in what we are reflecting on those sites - both to ourselves and to advertisers.

Organisations like Privacy International are asking the important questions about how that data is being handled and what rights we have as users once we sign up to services.

During the most recent controversy, Simon Davies from the privacybody accused Facebook of a "breach of faith".

He is now applauding the move to democratise decision-making within Facebook and calling on others to follow suit.


  • Comment number 1.

    I am glad that FACEBOOK founder was willing to accept that he and his organisation made some mistakes and are revising their original thoughts.....
    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 2.

    This is a good move and seems like the perfect compromise. It still means that we will need to keep an eye on and get involved in any future changes on the social networking site, but this is now OUR choice.

    Although I feel positive about this outcome, i'm waiting with baited breath for those comments from people who just see the negative in everything ;-P

  • Comment number 3.

    The negative can be good. It allows us to assess what is wrong.

    Take this blog, for example. Now, I must concede that web browsers, indeed the very Internet itself, are truly marvellous, laudable pieces of technology. But technology doesn't end there, does it? That is, of course, if the writers here still work under the auspices of writing about 'technology' in the broadest sense, which the blog title seems to imply.

    I feel these bloggers have been intoxicated by this alluring potion of fancy social networking gizmos and cute new online fads. I can picture them chortling together on their Twitter accounts, blethering about what is new, what is hip, and what is troublesome in the world of the Web 2.0.

    We are being persistently force-fed these intrusive, mind-altering and fundamentally pointless new methods of communication, as society marches further and further away from the terrifying inhumanities of the 'real world', dare its name be spoken, and further and further behind the light of a computer screen.

    I understand, bloggers, if you feel the absolute and unequivocal need to equate 'technology' with the 'digital', despite its youth and relatively minor impact on the world at large. But how about we have one blog, just one blog, concerning technology that isn't hell-bent on dominating the way we interact with people online?

  • Comment number 4.

    Sorry but it smacks of them deciding to allow the users the rope to hang themselves.

    They have been castagated for the policy change and then had to do a U-Turn, easiest way to prevent that happenning again and to wash their hands of any future controvertial decision is to hand voer the policymaking.

  • Comment number 5.

    The problem with all terms of use is that they are written by the organization to protect themselves. They are not written to be readable by users. They are not written for their audience.

    While a legal version might always be needed, there is a need for short and clear language which tells individuals the major things they are being asked to agree to. This should be no more than a couple paragraphs or a paragraph followed by a bulleted list.


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