Oh yeah, and today’s big media story, in case you didn’t hear:
When Wired.com called for an open alternative to Facebook last Friday, lamenting the company’s untrammeled desire to control your online identity and reconfigure the world’s privacy norms, reader response was overwhelming, with hundreds of comments and ironically, thousands of “Like” votes on Facebook.
Now, a group of four New York University students — who were working on just what we called for — have harnessed that dissatisfaction in the form of more than $115,000 in crowdsourced funding for their distributed, social networking system called Diaspora. That’s the equivalent of a significant angel round of funding in the internet startup world, and their fundraising on the Kickstarter crowdsourced funding site has another 19 days to go.
There’s obviously a big opportunity for a start-up here – “PrivateBook”:
Setting up a decent system for controlling your privacy on a web service shouldn’t be hard. And if multiple blogs are writing posts explaining how to use your privacy system, you can take that as a sign you aren’t treating your users with respect, It means you are coercing them into choices they don’t want using design principles. That’s creepy.
Facebook could start with a very simple page of choices: I’m a private person, I like sharing some things, I like living my life in public. Each of those would have different settings for the myriad of choices, and all of those users could then later dive into the control panel to tweak their choices. That would be respectful design – but Facebook isn’t about respect — it’s about re-configuring the world’s notion of what’s public and private.
Facebook has been gradually boosting its profile in Washington D.C. over the past year and is on the hunt for a second senior lobbyist to add to its office of four. Disclosures released a few days ago show that, on top of lobbying the usual suspects Internet companies reach out to like the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. senators and representatives, the fast-growing social network has also been busy deepening ties to government intelligence and homeland security agencies. […]
At the very top of Facebook’s agenda in D.C. is privacy, he said. There’s much at stake. The ease of data collection and sharing on the web is on a collision course with privacy. The suite of projects the company unveiled yesterday at its f8 conference in San Francisco may spark further privacy concerns about the mass of data it will now be tracking on users as they traverse the web. To head off concerns that it is too cavalier with pushing users to be more public, Facebook made a savvy move when it brought longtime privacy advocate Tim Sparapani from the American Civil Liberties Union on-board last year.
This is all a very big deal if it’s successful. Bigger than you think. And It makes Facebook a direct competitor to Google. Facebook has managed to succeed where Google has failed — turning your social behavior into actionable intelligence. Google’s major attempts at insights into web-wide consumer behavior (Orkut, FriendConnect, Checkout, Buzz) have not had anything close to the success that the Facebook platform has had. The intelligence collected from relationships with others, social micro-interactions (e.g., “likes,” “shares,” comments, updates), location (yup, Facebook’s working on that) and even transactions (see Facebook Credits) will be inherently more valuable to advertisers than click-through and search behavior (as advertisers get smarter themselves about what those kinds of behaviors mean to their bottom lines). And make no mistake, this data will be collected en masse. Facebook expects to serve 1 billion “likes” in just 24 hours. By applying this kind of statistically significant intelligence to its Engagement Ads, Facebook can deliver even more efficient, impression-generating advertising for its customers.