Whitewalling: Teens create their own Facebook super log-off

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Here’s an interesting approach that Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd found a young person using to manage their Facebook privacy and presence:

Mikalah uses Facebook but when she goes to log out, she deactivates her Facebook account. She knows that this doesn’t delete the account – that’s the point. She knows that when she logs back in, she’ll be able to reactivate the account and have all of her friend connections back. But when she’s not logged in, no one can post messages on her wall or send her messages privately or browse her content. But when she’s logged in, they can do all of that. And she can delete anything that she doesn’t like. Michael Ducker calls this practice “super-logoff” when he noticed a group of gay male adults doing the exact same thing.

Mikalah is not trying to get rid of her data or piss of her friends. And she’s not. What she’s trying to do is minimize risk when she’s not present to actually address it.

It goes to show that despite a platform’s desire to push people into disclosure by default, users will find ways to make their own choices about how publicness works. Because for many young people not being on Facebook just isn’t an option.

I asked Shamika why she bothered with Facebook in the first place, given that she sent over 1200 text messages a day. Once again, she looked at me incredulously, pointing out that there’s no way that she’d give just anyone her cell phone number. Texting was for close friends that respected her while Facebook was necessary to be a part of her school social life. And besides, she liked being able to touch base with people from her former schools or reach out to someone from school that she didn’t know well. Facebook is a lighter touch communication structure and that’s really important to her. But it doesn’t need to be persistent to be useful.

In the comments and related Tweets to this post, we can see that this hacking of the way Facebook works to suit personal reputation / presence management is common. One Tweet from @Tremblebot says their students call it “Whitewalling” or “Whitewashing”, and that the practice requires an investment up front and then makes it easy to stay on top of what people are posting about in the way of comments, tags and photos.

Perhaps this is something I should add the second edition of Me and My Web Shadow in the workflow for managing reputation. Certainly, if Facebook were to take a leaf out of Twitter’s playbook it would think about adding this as an easier to use or more prevalent feature.

“Whitewalling” also looks like evidence for the notion that people, yes even digital natives, want to retain some control over their privacy and what the world sees and hears about them.

Transgressions: Noobs, boobs and Facebook privacy

A tangled web of transgressions...

Privacy is one of the most complex social, political and commercial issues on the web. It’s not a single issue at all really, it’s a seething mass of issues, struggles, norms being negotiated, lines being re-drawn…

For privacy, read: change. Read: brave new world. Read: cry for help. Read: incitement to revolt.

A few years ago, Matt Locke wrote an incredibly useful essay called Six spaces of social media (secret, group, publishing, performing, partcipation and watching), in an attempt to pry definitions of social spaces away from technical and platform ones and focus minds on what was actually happening in these spaces. You know, the interesting, human stuff. All of these spaces might exist in Facebook, for instance, or in a forum, or across several platforms (Twitter/blog/Facebook/email is a common combination).

Now he’s come back to the topic with a post about transgressions, that is to say when other users or the platform owners do things with your stuff (data, identity, images etc.) that you didn’t want them to. (more…)

The end of Facebook quiz spam?: Facebook continues to add privacy enhancements

Facebook yesterday added a welcome feature to its privacy controls: the ability to control who sees different types of content you share via applications.

The example Facebook’s blog used was sharing a greetings card via an app like someecards – maybe you don’t want everyone in your network to see your hilarious design.


Perhaps it will also mean that people will be more likely to be selective in their updates about quizzes and social games like the massively popular Farmville. While many enjoy these Facebook apps, the stream of updates drive other people nuts and can become what one colleague of mine refers to as “functional spam”.

This development’s another good reason to invest the time in setting up different groups for Facebook friends, one of the approaches discussed in the sections on managing networks of contacts in Me My Web Shadow. While some people keep their Facebook network closed and restricted to friends and family, many of us have networks that include colleagues and acquaintances that we don’t want to share *everything* with.

This is a good move from Facebook: I hope there will be further development in making privacy controls easier to access, use and understand.


My top ten pieces of advice for looking after your web shadow


A while ago I did a video for the Insititute of Chartered Accountants called “12 Golden Rules for Online Personal Reputation Management“.

I really enjoyed it, and played with the idea for a bit, then decided to write a book about the subject. It’s called Web Shadows and will be finished any day now * ahem *. The paper (yes, paper) version will be out in March 2010

It’s a book for my friends who aren’t totally obsessed with the web and social media, but do have a creeping awareness that what is said about them online matters and that they maybe need to look after their personal reputation a little.

Headlines like Office worker sacked for branding work boring on Facebook in the Telegraph and surveys that say 45% of employers vet job candidates on social networks make them think that even more.

If you take my iCrossing e-book Brands in Networks, I guess Web Shadows will be People in Networks. But that would spell PIN, and anyway I get told off for talking about networks too much, so Web Shadows it almost certainly is.

Anyway, here’s my top ten pieces of advice as they stand today. If you let me know what you think I’d be very grateful:

1 Don’t think of online as another world: The web’s more like a layer over the world we live in, not a “cyberspace” that only geeks live in. It’s part of our lives. The more we think of it as part of the world we live in, the better we will be at using it and looking after ourselves in relation to our online presence.

2 Check your Google shadow (and keep checking it): make sure you can see what others see when they look for you online, wether that’s Google, Facebook, LinkedIn or whatever. (Jeff Jarvis’s Google shadow phrase is what got me to “web shadows” as a title for the book.)

3 Be the world’s leading source of information about yourself: Ideally you want people to find your website, or cluster of social network profiles before they find anything else.

4 Understand networks (and which networks are important to you): Explore the online world around you. Which spaces matter to people that matter to you: employers, colleagues, friends, etc. It doesn’t hurt to start to understand network theory 101. Principles like “every node that joins the network doubles its value” help you to feel less like a supplicant and more like a network citizen. A part of it, not a passive. An owner among owners of a shared space, with rights – and responsibilities to the network.

5 Learn “crap detection” skills: One of Howard Rheingold’s four digital literacies, “crap detection” (the phrase comes from Hemingway) is about being a critical user of the web. Spotting the scams, attention tricks, the bahaviours that means that someone you have met online isn’t a person, or is one you need to stay away from. It’s part experience and part knowing how to use the network technically to understand – sometimes literally – where someone is coming from.

6 Be useful to your networks: You don’t need to turn into a pain-in-the-whatever professional networking douche to be successful in looking after your web shadow. Be yourself. Make the most of the things that you do – put your presentations and articles from the newsletter on SlideShare, bookmark interesting things you find on Delicious, maybe try out blogging even. once

7 Think about private and public: The web is a public place. You’re going to need to think about the dividing lines between your professional self online and your private self – where are they going to be? Get to know the privacy settings on Facebook for starters… And don’t forget to tell your family about them too.

8 Remember: you’re always on the (permanent) record online: “You’re never off the record,” we used to tell clients when I worked in PR. It’s true all the time when we’re online now. Don’t say anything you might regret later. If you are angry: calm down. Been drinking? Sober up or shut the web connection down. And the record may be permanent, like a digital tattoo.

9 Get a thicker skin: So you’re always on the record – so what? Everyone else is too. You’re going to make mistakes, get into arguments, look a bit foolish sometimes. The alternative is being a digital hermit, which… well… if you want to, I suppose.

10 Make it work for you: So we have had email addiction, SMS addiction and now, if you want to, you can become a social web addict. Or you can learn how the social web works and use it to enhance your life. Articles and posts like this one are good while you’re learning the tools’ basics – then you need to make your own mind up about how it should work for you.


No top Facebook apps from brands either…

Just as you won’t see a “viral video” from a brand in the blockbuster list for this genre, you won’t find any apps from brands in the top Facebook apps list.

As Dirk at News from the Herd notes, it’s about certain kinds of useful when it comes to hitting the sweetspot with Facebook users:

1- Produce addictive but simple to use games that don’t force ad messaging down users throats

2 – Give them a way to organise their lives, and/ or:

3 – Provide them with mildly competitive ‘social comparison’ tools vs their friends.

As Inside Facebook noted, the recent redesign of Facebook shook up the developer leaderboard, bringing the likes of LivingSocial to the fore.

Interesting to see Causes in the top 5 apps out there on Facebook. Reminds me of the excellent Brita “Filter for Good” campaign in the US, to reduce the amount of bottled water being consumed. The Facebook app and the Facebook group for this were just a couple of the parts of the approach.

brita

The brand benefit is direct in this case – but it is a brand behaving like a movement, and benefitting (in terms of awareness) from helping people acknowledge, pass on a call to action around an issue, without having to commit to a great deal of effort. If they want to talk about it more, get involved more they can and Brita will give them a little more data and tools to do so (if they’re smart, which they seem to be).

Dirk asks if brands can ever win in Facebook:

It will be interesting to see if brands manage to make much head-way here, or whether it really is a case of as P&G’s head of interactive said last year, you can’t monetise a space where someone is breaking up with his girlfriend.

It’s a nice, pithy, provocative question. But monetising, advertising, interupting, branding up these spaces are far from the only option for brands. I think that as more brands develop their social web literacy we’ll see them feel more at ease with spaces like Facebook, find their legitimate, useful places in them.

I’m not sure if they will ever be blockbuster app hits that make it to the Appdata leaderboard. I think that should probably not be an objective for a brand. That “big is best” attitude is another one of those hangovers from channel thinking.

: : You can keep an eye on who is winning on Facebook by apps and developers at AppData.

Don’t be distracted by the Facebook climbdown “victory” – big issues remain

I wrote yesterday on the iCrossing UK blog some thoughts about the Facebook decision to revert to its old Terms of Sevice (TOS) in the face of a user revolt.

M’learned iCrossing NYC colleague Alisa is on the warpath over the Facebook Terms of Sevice (TOS) debacle. Seems she’s on to something, and I’m listening closely:

Some people have claimed that user data on Facebook is worthless (silly people). I recently wrote a post for Mashable on how Facebook could build a revenue model by essentially selling even anonymized user data. Silicon Alley Insider then posted about this same idea. Commenters to the SA post clearly didn’t get that what they view as “useless” or frivolous Facebook data is in fact extremely rich and valuable trend data– worth a lot of money to marketers, government entities, and private enterprises.

Its the value of our data that incenses me so much over the current Facebook TOS hub-bub. Its not enough to say “Facebook doesn’t own your data” when the license we grant them is so wholly encompassing so as to allow full usage of user data as if they did own it.

The FB-TOS debacle dominated the top of the Techmeme news/blog aggregator yesterday, showing that this was issue number one for the digerati. From Perez Hilton to Pete Cashmore, everyone had a view.

Now it’s tucked down at the bottom of the page, with a couple of posts which have a users-force-Facebook-volte-face sort of flavour.

Was reverting to the old TOS is just legerdemain, misdirection on a grand scale? If so it hasn’t worked. This is an issue which has hit the mainstream, much more so than the Beacon advertising issue of a year ago, and many people have a niggling doubt in their minds about Facebook and their data.

It’s good to see the BBC continuing to look closely at the issue in its coverage. According to its man in Silicon Valley law suits were being prepared by privacy activists against Facebook at the moment that it decided to revert it its old TOS.

It’s made me think more about the concerns Tom Hodgkinson voiced in his article for the Guardian – one of its most popular articles ever, I believe – about Facebook’s suitability as the keeper of so much of our most private data.

Upload to Facebook = donate your content to Facebook?

perez
Image: Perez say NO!

* * UPDATE: Check out my NYC colleague, Alisa’s analysis of what the Terms and Conditions mean in Facebook: All Your Data Are Belong to Us…

Facebook’s new terms of service make it sound an awful lot like they own anything you put up there forever. Ulp!

Some think this may even have consequences for brands that upload content. Double ulp (on behalf of brands)!

While others, publicity shy as they are, are calling for a Facebook boycott.

Now Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO going on an, er, charm offensive:

In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment….

…the interesting thing about this change in our terms is that it highlights the importance of these issues and their complexity. People want full ownership and control of their information so they can turn off access to it at any time. At the same time, people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them—like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on—to other services and grant those services access to those people’s information. These two positions are at odds with each other.

He says he’ll post more soon. Best had – this issue won’t go away…

Thanks to @tacanderson and @dirkthecow for points via Twitter…

Upload to Facebook = donate your content to Facebook?

perez
Image: Perez say NO!

* * UPDATE: Check out my NYC colleague, Alisa’s analysis of what the Terms and Conditions mean in Facebook: All Your Data Are Belong to Us…

Facebook’s new terms of service make it sound an awful lot like they own anything you put up there forever. Ulp!

Some think this may even have consequences for brands that upload content. Double ulp (on behalf of brands)!

While others, publicity shy as they are, are calling for a Facebook boycott.

Now Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO going on an, er, charm offensive:

In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment….

…the interesting thing about this change in our terms is that it highlights the importance of these issues and their complexity. People want full ownership and control of their information so they can turn off access to it at any time. At the same time, people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them—like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on—to other services and grant those services access to those people’s information. These two positions are at odds with each other.

He says he’ll post more soon. Best had – this issue won’t go away…

Thanks to @tacanderson and @dirkthecow for points via Twitter…

Upload to Facebook = donate your content to Facebook?

perez
Image: Perez say NO!

* * UPDATE: Check out my NYC colleague, Alisa’s analysis of what the Terms and Conditions mean in Facebook: All Your Data Are Belong to Us…

Facebook’s new terms of service make it sound an awful lot like they own anything you put up there forever. Ulp!

Some think this may even have consequences for brands that upload content. Double ulp (on behalf of brands)!

While others, publicity shy as they are, are calling for a Facebook boycott.

Now Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO going on an, er, charm offensive:

In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment….

…the interesting thing about this change in our terms is that it highlights the importance of these issues and their complexity. People want full ownership and control of their information so they can turn off access to it at any time. At the same time, people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them—like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on—to other services and grant those services access to those people’s information. These two positions are at odds with each other.

He says he’ll post more soon. Best had – this issue won’t go away…

Thanks to @tacanderson and @dirkthecow for points via Twitter…

Inauguration day in social media…

I wanted to write a round up of all the Obama ’08 campaign and social media analyses, so I did a search for his name in my Google Reader. The search results, a bit like me and a lot of people today around the world, seems unable to get past the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States.

Fair enough. I’ll come back to that. For now, here’s a round up of some of the incredible ways that people have been experiencing and talking about this wonderful day on the web…

An Open Source government?

First up the White House website was replaced with a social media-influenced design, including a blog, a commitment to transparency and the whole thing’s under a Creative Commons licence… Wow.

Image: New & improved, social media style White House website
Image: New & improved, social media style White House website

And what’s more, the whole website is licensed under Creative Commons (the “most permissive” version, according the the Creative Commons blog).

NB: VentureBeat has a more critical analysis of the bloggy website’s lack of things like comments…

CNN, FB Connect and Photosynth

CNN’s gone to town with social media for the inauguration. You could watch it live after logging in with Facebook Connect and see a scrolling list of other viewers’ status updates as they reacted to it. One friend of mind said she really enjoyed this…

Image: CNN Facebook live viewer
Image: CNN Facebook live viewer

These won’t be the last, but Mashable‘s published some Facebook stats from this afternoon. Goggle ye at the following:

1. 600,000 status updates posted through the CNN.com Live Facebook feed

2. Facebook averaged 4,000 status updates per minute during the broadcast

3. 8,500 status updates were posted during the first minute of Obama’s speech

4. “Millions” of people logged into Facebook during the broadcast

This is a worldwide media event playing out as much on the web as on TV…

But even more amazing was the Photosynth CNN set up for the inauguration itself. This you have to see – it’s a great use of the technology. What’s amazing is that already – four or so hours later, the Photosynth panoramas are rich enough to enjoy browsing through. I imagine it will be worth taking a look again in a few days when more of those lucky people who can say they were there upload their pics…

Image: One of CNN and Microsoft's Photosynth montages
Image: One of CNN and Microsoft's Photosynth montages

Speechifying

The main event of the day was of course the speech itself,  co-written by a 27-year-old sitting in Starbucks, renowned for his late night speech “crashing” sessions interspersed with games of Rock Band.

ReadWriteWeb has been one of the first to word cloud the text of the speech on Wordle and offer it up alongside a selection of inauguration speeches from presidents past…

Image: A word cloud of Obama's inauguration speech
Image: A word cloud of Obama's inauguration speech

And Neoformix has created an image of President Obama made out of the words of the speech. You can even download it as a poster if the desire takes you…

Image: Neoformix's speech-as-portrait
Image: Neoformix's speech-as-portrait

And finally…

I watched the Inauguration ceremony in a Big Daddy’s Diner a block or so from iCrossing’s New York office. It was a random choice at the last minute, but it felt like a great place to be for “the moment”. After he was sworn in the whole place applauded and whooped a little before settling in to listen to the speech.

obama-in-big-daddys-diner

I’ve submitted the pic to the very sweet Flickr group of people’s photos of where they were when “a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath”.

What a day.

: : Bonus link: I’ve written about search and social reactions to the inauguration speech at iCrossing’s Connect blog.