More public Facebook => more careful selves (I hope)

Don’t miss Julia Anguin’s Wall Street Journal blog post about how “friending” has gone from knowing what the kid three rows back thinks about the latest celeb news to a popularity contest to, now with Twitter, a “talent show” among “followers” (who are much less complicated than “friends”) – or how “to prove your intellectual prowess in 140 characters or less. But where she’s going with all this, really, is the bottom line of Facebook’s privacy changes. It’s not a particularly new bottom line, just a more-so-than-ever one: “I will also remove the vestiges of my private life from Facebook and make sure I never post anything that I wouldn’t want my parents, employer, next-door neighbor or future employer to see. You’d be smart to do the same. We’ll need to treat this increasingly public version of Facebook with the same hard-headedness that we treat Twitter: as a place to broadcast, but not a place for vulnerability…. Not a place for intimacy with friends.” Parents, talk with your kids about this! Anguin’s piece is a great talking point. [For advice on how to hide that Friend List from Everyone, see this from’s Larry Magid, and for last week’s news, see “Facebook’s privacy changes” last week, when the company said these changes “have no impact” on how FB makes money.]

After I posted this, the New York Times reported that the Electronic Privacy Information Center and 10 other consumer privacy organizations filed a complaint with the FTC that Facebook’s latest privacy changes “violate user expectations, diminish user privacy, and contradict Facebook’s own representations.” Paramount to us at is that Facebook ensure that the friend lists of users under 18 be hidden from public view by default.

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