NEWS FROM THE LAB - Monday, May 17, 2010

Facebook Privacy Check Posted by Sean @ 16:05 GMT

Note to Facebook: Your privacy settings are much too difficult for the average individual to fully understand. Even critics of your privacy policies can't figure them all out.

Let's take Privacy Check for example. It's a Facebook application that I discovered via Openbook.

Here's the Privacy Check report:

Facebook Privacy Check

Hey, not bad at all, my score is 17 out of 21. No big surprise for me. Everything is as I expected.

But wait, what's that text at the end of the explanation?

Facebook Privacy Check

It says:

Note because Facebook does not let you hide all your information, the best score that you can currently achieve is 15/21 (unless you don't have any friends)!

I scored 17 out of a possible 15 points. Nice!

That's almost comic… even a developer focused on an application which exclusively highlights your privacy controls can't get it right.

Look, Facebook, I get it. I know exactly how to adjust my privacy settings to my liking and I have an impossibly high "privacy score" that demonstrates that fact. I only share what I want.

But take it from me, most people are somewhat confused, and not because the options aren't straightforward (there's three), but because you fail to provide usable controls to help understand those options (you can only preview two of the three).

It's a settings and control issue.

Facebook, you'd better improve your controls soon or else your critics will never stop harping about it being a privacy issue.

Signing off,