Facebook‘s biggest and boldest move to date was announced last week at its f8 conference. Timelineis a complete overhaul of Facebook profiles and changes the way user behavior is reflected and shared across one’s network, or social graph. In essence, Facebook expects users to be active participants in the social web, actively sharing thoughts, photos, and more but also sharing semi-passively. What you’re listening to, reading, discovering and discussing across many websites can now be automatically archived on one’s Facebook timeline and published in real time to the Facebook News Feed.
Facebook has always pushed openness and sharing on its users and this latest innovation is bound to spark concern among users who wish to maintain significant privacy controls over their profile and presence. For users that embrace the increasingly open and social nature of the web, the distracting nature of Facebook is about to multiply exponentially.
It’s mid-2010 and the social web is finally getting comfortable with the opening and exploitation of the “social graph.” It likely helped that Facebook took a bit of backlash over the past few months to pave the way for the rest. And now, like any good social network should, Twitter is beginning to show the cards that we (the users) dealt it.
Twitter’s “Who to Follow” personalized suggestions can now be seen in the right-hand sidebar of the Twitter.com user web app and under this tab. This is familiar territory to anyone who uses Facebook or even Amazon. Twitter knows who you follow and who follows you back as well as who many in your circle follow that you do not yet follow. Hence the social graph. It’s a wild and crazy algorithm, but if you think about it in physical terms, we all have friends that we want to introduce specifically to other friends. And it should be assumed that by using Twitter, you hope to communicate with and discover new peers, business partners, etc.
Just got a mass e-mail from Biz Stone explaining why Twitter accounts with autofollow enabled (this was originally an option in user settings) will no longer be grandfathered in. And in fact, there will be no more autofollow accounts.
I’ve always been mixed on this, however, I now feel that it is in the service’s best interest to disallow autofollow’s across the board. Still this can be easily circumvented using other services, such as SocialToo, which accesses the Twitter API to enable auto-follows, and — much worse in my opinion — allow users to automatically send direct messages to new followers). There is even a website — http://www.twitterautofollow.com/ — devoted to listing accounts that had autofollow enabled.
Why does Twitter discourage autofollow?
“Namely, it is unlikely that anyone can actually read tweets from thousands of accounts which makes this activity disingenuous,” the letter reads. At the same time it is a mixed message to encourage the use of Twitter as a legitimate community-building tool, without making it easier for one to follow back followers. In the end, I grew very frustrated with the auto-follow concept, primarily due to the fact that a majority of new followers (on the @LiveEarth account that I administer) appeared to be complete fakes. Especially during the month that the account was featured as a suggested user.
I knew Twitter would disable autofollow soon enough. But the mildly defensive tone of the explanation was unexpected. What are your thoughts on Twitter etiquette?
On February 4 Facebook revised their Terms of Service, removing a clause stating that user content would no longer be under license to Facebook.
Well, now the terms indicate that anything you ever upload or share to your facebook profile — regardless of whether your account is active — is Facebook’s property to do whatever they want with.
UPDATE: Facebook did an about face and reverted to its previous ToS per a blog post on feb 17.
Did anyone receive notification to review the new Terms of Service before someone finally stumbled upon it — an outrageous 11 days after the fact? What if major publishers decide to boycott by removing “share on facebook” links? That’s not happening, not with the increasing traffic these blogs/sites receive via Facebook referrals.
This is the Internet, folks, and this is nothing new and hardly a surprise from Facebook — it was only a matter of time that they reworded the terms of content ownership (check out my previous posts on Facebook privacy here, here, and here).
If you’re someone who openly shares details and content on the Internet (as I do), you’re only fooling yourself if you believe said content cannot be “stolen” or used against you. Think you’re pre-February 4th content is protected (if you have since deleted your Facebook profile? Not likely. Facebook is the model for a walled garden online network. Now we’ll see how far they go with their power to abuse, sell, sublicense and manipulate user data and content.
The key passages of the ToS are below (new ToS / old ToS)