I said Facebook's smart in my lead up there because, in going back to its previous terms-of-use version, it's buying time for the process of folding user input into the new terms' development process and this giant experiment is also about user (and societal) education. It needs time. There are factors involved that only a few of the privacy bloggers are writing about (e.g., author Daniel Solove), including the tension between consumer privacy pressures and those from law enforcement to hand over as well as retain user data after users have closed their accounts. But time is short, too. Though this social and media experiment – and consensus-building in general – take time, Facebook doesn't have a whole lot, given the climate outside the Petrie dish. The predator panic recently brought into perspective by the Internet Safety Technical Task Force is a good illustration of how worst-case scenarios and fears tend to eclipse the public discussion about the social Web – to the detriment of child safety (see the New York Times and my post on that). Why to the detriment? Because kids usually want to get far away from scared, worked-up parents; they go "underground" online, where parents aren't in the mix. Never the best scenario. [Thanks to UK-based privacy researcher Tara Taubman for pointing out a few of the links below.]
Here are other reports and commentaries worth reading:
* Audio interview with both Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and Facebook chief privacy officer Chris Kelly by CNET/CBS tech analyst Larry Magid (Larry is also my co-director here at ConnectSafely.org)
* University of Wisconsin information studies Prof. Michael Zimmer's very critical view of Facebook's process
* Internet consultant and blogger David Silversmith on the technical and monetary realities and then "plain old reality"
* The Guardian on how people definitely do read the "fine print" in social sites (vs. grocery store loyalty cards)
* Coverage at the Washington Post and New York Times
* The Internet Safety Technical Task Force report