Earlier this year I felt it necessary to explain why I’m not on Facebook (and no, I’ve never been to a McDonalds either). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against social media as such (look, I blog), but I outlined my reasons pretty clearly. I was also trying to avoid seeing The Social Network film, however, I finally went to see it this weekend (yes, I’m probably the last person to get around to it). It’s not a bad film, but it confirmed to me all the reasons why I don’t do the Facebook thing. The film confirmed most of the things on my list or reasons – they talk about writing in ink on the internet, I talk about the internet not forgetting – and my prime reason for not being on it, is the cliquiness. The whole concept of FB was about cliques, both preserving and creating them. So there you have it, I don’t do Facebook and as yet I have no compelling reason to do so (nor go to a McDonalds for that matter).
I‘ve blogged a lot about privacy and social media. Certainly when it comes to marketing through mobile social media, then what others know about you is a major issue. You only have to look at the furore over Openbook and pleaserobme.com to see what a sensitive subject it is. In a recent DMA newsletter I wrote a piece on how surprised I was that I could see the email addresses and phone numbers of ‘friends’ who I didn’t know (not to mention their houses conveniently shown on the map). It seems that Foursquare is beginning to address the issue. In a recent blog, Foursquare announced that they are changing the settings to make users more aware of what they are sharing with the rest of the world. The neat part is a privacy grid which shows exactly what you are sharing (or not).
I think this kind of clarity is key to the success of location-based social media. With rumours that Facebook are due to launch their location service very soon, it makes sense for Foursquare to get ahead on the privacy stakes. FB seems to take an approach of changing privacy settings and waiting until users complain before changing them again! Eric Schmidt of Google was quoted in The Wall Street Journal, as saying that people should change their names when they reach adulthood to avoid youthful indiscretions sitting on social media sites. That’s one solution I suppose, but I have argued that social media sites have a duty to act responsibly and warn users about what they are getting in to in terms of the information that they share. It looks like Foursquare have taken the initiative on this.