What’s going on with Facebook?

By Perks |

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Over the past few years, Facebook has been an object of wonder, entertainment, connection, and, more recently, scrutiny. Today, the social media giant claims to have 400 million active users, half of which are logging on to the site on a daily basis. That’s a whole lot of private information stored on a single site. If you’re confused as to what exactly has been going on with Facebook lately and why there are so many privacy concerns popping up, we have broken down some of the recent changes and key points for you below.

Privacy Opens Up

In December 2009, Facebook made a major shift that led all user information to be public by default. If users didn’t update their privacy settings, all new updates and photos would be shared to the entire internet. Many pondered if this change was to keep up with other real-time, social media sites such as Twitter.

F8

It’s more than just a keyboard command. The latest f8 conference held in San Francisco in April was announced with the mission to “bring together the developers and entrepreneurs who are building the social Web by moving fast, taking risks, and hacking traditional systems.” At the conference, developers unveiled an array of new features, such as:

  • A “Like” button for popular websites such as NYTimes.com, CNN.com and IMDb. When you “like” an article or post on these sites, it will show up on your friend’s news feeds.
  • Instant personalization so that partner websites can cater to your personal interests and style based on information found on your Facebook profile.*
  • The new Graph API platform, which changed the way developers read and write data to Facebook. Sites can now get real-time updates every time a user adds a connection or posts on a wall.

Guidelines and Glitches

Just days after the f8 conference, complaints about privacy started pouring in, specifically from four U.S. senators who asked the FTC to set privacy rules for social networks. Public interest groups also filed complaints with the FTC, pushing to restore privacy of personal information.

Then, in the beginning of May, a glitch in the system opened up private chats to all of a user’s friends. In a New York Times article, one user was quoted saying, “Facebook has become more scary than fun.”

Crisis

An interview that Facebook’s Vice President Elliot Schrage participated in to try and calm user concerns ended up backfiring and stirring up even more discontent. Today (May 13), Facebook will hold a crisis meeting in an effort to create a plan to regain user trust while pacifying the concerns expressed by political organizations. According to this infographic demonstrating the history of Facebook’s default settings, they have a lot of work on their plate. What do you think? Are the critics right or are people over-exaggerating?

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