Don’t let the numbers fool you: Facebook’s steady rise to the top of the social media heap wasn’t by magic or luck. Instead Facebook has grown from Harvard’s Ethernet to 350 million users by aggressively trying new things, for good and the bad.
After a few miscues (cough Beacon cough) it seems Facebook has understood that controlling privacy is one of the best ways to keep their expansive user base. Now with several changes, they’ve made privacy so easy that even an orangutan can do it.
- Shutting Down Beacon: Facebook’s Beacon was meant to be the start of social media advertising but ended up being too pervasive. Facebook has since shut down the service and settled a lawsuit surrounding Beacon’s privacy practices.
- Marketer’s Beware!: Facebook change the rules on marketers may protect Facebook more than the user, but with all the different contests I’ve been seeing lately maybe this is a good thing.
- Scam Crackdowns: One of the best and worse things about the Facebook platform is the apps. That’s why its great that Facebook is cleaning house and getting rid of apps that are scammy. Now if someone could just get rid of Farmville (someone had to say it!).
- Eliminating Confusing Policy Rules: Getting rid of all the network mumbo-jumbo and simplifying the system makes sense. At one point I was on three different networks and controlled each privacy setting individually. Now with simple controls for each piece of content I put up and easier privacy language, most people are going to feel a lot safer on Facebook. More importantly this plan has been discussed since July, meaning that Facebook may avoid the backlash they’ve felt every other time a change has been made.
It is this concern over people’s privacy that have allowed Facebook to grow to 350 million people worldwide. By tweaking their privacy, Facebook has taken the lead on an issue where other major social networks like MySpace ended up failing. Now the question is: can it last?
What do you think about Facebook’s privacy changes? Do you feel safe online?