I Made The Wrong Choice With Facebook

Yes, the new Facebook changes have caused a typical storm of user outrage: “You’ve changed things! How dare you!”

But I think this storm is different this time.

I’ve used last.fm to monitor the music I listen to for years now. With my permission, last.fm captures songs I listen to on my phone, my laptop, the computer connected to the hifi, and lists them. All 43,000 songs I’ve listened to since August 2006.

I cobbled together a stalkerfeed with available information about me on the internet. This includes a lot of information: but, again, information I’m happy to share.

Yet, the impending timeline – and the already-existing top-right ticker – has made many people I talk to concerned about what Facebook is doing. The idea of easily going back in history via someone’s timeline concerns people. And it even concerns ME. The fact Facebook now posts whenever I read articles by The Guardian is spooky and weird: I don’t want people knowing that stuff, that’s too personal.

Using Media UK, I could flag up “xxxxxx is using Media UK”, “xxxxxx is using the job section of Media UK”, “xxxxxx is reading a job vacancy on Media UK” – which would flagrantly abuse privacy of my users. I won’t do that; but I worry that, if The Guardian does it, it’ll be seen as “normal”.

I now know of people who are now planning to stop using Facebook completely. Not just geeks like Dave Winer, or Nik Cubrilovic, but radio people (SomaFM removing “all like buttons for privacy’s sake“), and normal people who aren’t into this stuff at all, but just concerned about the future.

Which means I think I made the wrong decision when I moved to Facebook Connect for Media UK’s user system. And, doubtless, the next few weeks will be coding a new membership system, and discussion system, which no longer uses Facebook. And I was hoping to be coding new features, not replacements based on a lack of trust and transparency.

I felt the right thing to do would be to use Facebook’s system to handle user accounts. Seems I was wrong.

(Was I? I’d be grateful for your comments).

Later: Media UK has now changed its social media sharing buttons as a result of these, and other, comments.

This article originally appeared in Media UK.