I’ve had mixed feelings about the recent Facebook controversies. In case you missed it, many people are saying that Facebook has gone rogue – led by amoral management, they’ve pushed radical transparency upon unwilling users, hiding their moves behind a everchanging array of bewildering settings.
I’m glad to see so many people beginning to grapple with the fact that they’ve given their information away to services that are too hard to control.
But it would be a mistake to think that Facebook is the problem. For one thing, the problem that Facebook poses here is too easy to fix. On May 7, I told a group of people at PrivacyCamp that Bynamite could give them a “one button” solution to fix Facebook privacy.
Twelve days later, we’ve launched The One Button Rule. The “Friends Only” button automatically changes all your settings to Friends Only, and monitors those settings to make sure that Facebook doesn’t change them back. There are several other solutions available as well – of course I think that ours is the easiest and most effective (we’re the only ones that automatically monitor and fix all settings), but go ahead and try them all and decide for yourself.
My point isn’t that the Friends Only button is the best; my point is that once people got motivated, it took less than a couple of weeks to see many solutions appear. No matter how they try, Facebook really can’t deny people what we want – if people really want something, solutions will be made on the market to give it. Even Facebook sees the writing on the wall at this point, promising that they’ll make privacy simple.
You may or may not trust them, given their history. Nevertheless, the new solutions will win out and force Facebook to do the right thing.
But these easy fixes are only addressing the tip of the iceberg. Facebook is only the most visible service that constantly collects and uses your information in ways you don’t understand and can’t control. The mass of this iceberg is still under water, and we are all still heading towards it. This is a hard problem to see, to understand, and to explain – and that’s our larger mission. Bynamite is still in rough beta, but in a few weeks we’ll launch a new version and we’ll have a lot more to say.