Kudos to Facebook for dealing with Privacy straight up

Kudos to Facebook for dealing with Privacy straight up

Privacy is a touchy thing, esp. in this day and age. I have written about it and advised companies on it for many years. One can argue that Scott McNealy got it right when he said – “there is no privacy, get over it” and on the other hand the laws on the books and practices are all messed up. How is your bank privacy policy? you have to physically make calls or write letters to get opted out of being on the “sell list.” They will sell any demographic information including address and phone number. Why is there no outrage for that?

However, online and mobile are different beasts. There is much information gathered over the course of time and something somewhere creates an opportunity for misuse and mistrust. Players like Google and Facebook have great responsibility and their actions will define the era of responsibility and accountability in privacy. Do we get bogged down by the concerns so that we can’t innovate in providing better experiences? Clear answer is No.

When Facebook launched Beacon, I actually liked the program, I had envisioned and written about something similar 7-8 years ago. The mistake, IMHO, was the way it was introduced. It felt sneaky and creepy and thus the revolt and Facebook had to back down. Similar hoopla was created with Facebook changed TOS, again, the mistake was not honoring the two basic principles of privacy – transparency and control.

What’s impressive is the speed with which the company adapts and responds despite what they might think is right for the business or for the strategy, they put the users front and center. So, when Mark Zukerberg opened the discussion of TOS, everyone in the industry should take notice. They probably won’t get it right the first time, but in the spirit of creating of user trust and loyalty, they will eventually, and they will be rewarded for that.

History tells us that systems are most fairly governed when there is an open and transparent dialogue between the people who make decisions and those who are affected by them. We believe history will one day show that this principle holds true for companies as well, and we’re looking to moving in this direction with you.

So, let the discussions begin and hope this dialogue transforms how privacy is handled at all levels. FTC should take notice.