Interesting piece from Mark Suster on what social networking’s past can tell us about its future.
A couple of highlights:
Facebook made a deal with us that our social network was private. When they jealously watched the rise of Twitter they decided that it should be made more public, but that wasn’t the bargain we made when we signed up in the first place…
… I know most people aren’t troubled by the loosening of their information – but I believe that’s because most people don’t understand it.
What I realized in working with so many startup technology firms is that even if you don’t give permission to third-party apps to access your information much of it is available anyways as long as somebody you’re connected to is more promiscuous with third-party apps. Also, all of those “Facebook Connect” buttons on websites are awesome for quickly logging in, but each gives those websites unprecedented access to your personal information.
I believe that privacy leaks will cause a longer-term backlash against misusing out information but in the short-term not enough people understand the consequences to be alarmed.
On Social Network fragmentation:
Since 2006 I have been lamenting what I see as “the Facebook problem” – they are trying to lump me into one big social network. Nobody exists in one social network. I have the one with my friends where I want to talk about how wasted we were at the party last weekend that I don’t want to share with my family network where I share pictures of the kids with my parents and siblings.
I don’t want either of these mixed with the business social network in which I want to maintain the appearance that I’m “all business” and certainly don’t want to see college pictures of me in Mexico floating around. I don’t want to mix my “public network” with my “private networks.” Facebook has jumbled these all together and then tried to bandage it by making groups available. I don’t think this really solves the problem.
And young people aren’t stupid – they certainly aren’t as digitally naïve as their elders like to think. To get around all of this jumbling of social graphs they simply create multiple Facebook accounts under pseudonyms or “nom du guerre” for their real discussions and more pristine Facebook accounts for their real names. I wonder how many of Facebook’s 500 million users are created for this purpose? I’ve confirmed this trend with several young people.