The Faces Have Spoken and the Book Listens

I logged into Facebook this morning to see a public notice from Mark Zuckerberg (posted below) Facebookprivacy
about the recent changes to Facebook.  (It wound up in the Facebook blog as well.)   danah asks whether or not Facebook has learned a lesson.  I think they have and I really believe that they were pretty bummed out that they angered so many of their members.  It really takes a lot to admit mistakes, and I think this will go far in making users feel like its their service.  When your users start feeling like they own what you built, you've really got something.

danah wrote "People are taking to the (virtual) streets to object to what the
architects are doing their (virtual) city. They don't like the changes
in the architecture and they want their voices heard. And it also looks
like virtual protesters can raise a far greater ruckus than the ones in
meatspace
."

Sad, but true...    if only all these people would get as upset over the war or healthcare or just sign up to ban Paris Hilton from all media.  I digress.

In response to this problem, Facebook built a really easy opt-out menu for the mini-feeds. 

Its really amazing to see the expectation level on the part of the users as to how responsive a service should be.  They didn't like a feature, so they banded together on the site and in a very short time, they got a resolution.  Could you imagine anything like that happening in the enterprise software world?  If I don't like any part of Vista, I'm going to make a group called "Vista looks like it was designed by a hyperactive 5 year old" (as one of the FB groups was) and then see how long it takes Microsoft to fix it.  :)

Nice job by the Facebook team to recognize their mistake.  I hope the users move on, because, as I mentioned the other day, this is a service that really has the potential to create positive change on college campuses because of its widespread use among a glocolized audience.

Here's Mark's letter:

An Open Letter from Mark Zuckerberg:

We really messed this one up. When we launched News Feed and Mini-Feed we
were trying to provide you with a stream of information about your social
world. Instead, we did a bad job of explaining what the new features were
and an even worse job of giving you control of them. I'd like to try to
correct those errors now.

When I made Facebook two years ago my goal was to help people understand
what was going on in their world a little better. I wanted to create an
environment where people could share whatever information they wanted, but
also have control over whom they shared that information with. I think a lot
of the success we've seen is because of these basic principles.

We made the site so that all of our members are a part of smaller networks
like schools, companies or regions, so you can only see the profiles of
people who are in your networks and your friends. We did this to make sure
you could share information with the people you care about. This is the same
reason we have built extensive privacy settings – to give you even more control over who you share your information
with.

Somehow we missed this point with Feed and we didn't build in the proper
privacy controls right away. This was a big mistake on our part, and I'm
sorry for it. But apologizing isn't enough. I wanted to make sure we did
something about it, and quickly. So we have been coding nonstop for two days
to get you better privacy controls. This new
privacy page will allow you to choose which types of stories go into your
Mini-Feed and your friends' News Feeds, and it also lists the type of
actions Facebook will never let any other person know about. If you have
more comments, please send them over.

This may sound silly, but I want to thank all of you who have written in and
created groups and protested. Even though I wish I hadn't made so many of
you angry, I am glad we got to hear you. And I am also glad that News Feed
highlighted all these groups so people could find them and share their
opinions with each other as well.

About a week ago I created a group called
Free Flow of Information on the Internet, because
that's what I believe in – helping people share information with the people
they want to share it with. I'd encourage you to check it out to learn more
about what guides those of us who make Facebook. Tomorrow at 4pm est, I will
be in that group with a bunch of people from Facebook, and we would love to
discuss all of this with you. It would be great to see you there.

Thanks for taking the time to read this,

Mark

One more thing:

Interesting thought from UNC Fred on the size of the anti-Facebook Facebook group:

"The group has grown to almost 700,000 users, representing almost 8% of
Facebook's total user base. If the equivalent happened in Myspace, the
group would have grown to 8 million people. In two days."