See Andy's other stuff:

Contact Me >>

Creepy is wrong

A lot of people are creeped out by Facebook right now — because folks are getting friend suggestions that are a little too familiar.

Here's what happened to my wife:

  • Facebook suggests she friends 3 of our neighbors.
  • She has never given our address on Facebook or connected to those neighbors in any way.
  • She has never given Facebook access to her contact lists or email accounts.

Her assumption:  Facebook was secretly scanning her Outlook and identifying people she received email from. Invasive, scary, and infuriating.

Mobs of other people are equally angry.  Here are a few posts: 1 2 3

But…it never actually happened. 

Those friends uploaded their contact lists, my wife was on it, so Facebook assumed they were friends.

Here's the problem:  Facebook did nothing technically wrong.  They didn't steal data or violate privacy. They actually did a great job of matching people who know each other.

But they did it too well, and it's freaking people out.  This leads to anger, fear — and legislation. And it's not the first time Facebook has walked into this mess by being insensitive to the perceptions of its users.

Engineers: Just because you can build something doesn't mean you should.

Executives:  It's not about whether something is allowable. It's about whether something is acceptable — Your users get to decide, not you.

(P.S. Facebook:  You could fix this with a little link next to the suggestions that explains how this works, and give people the option to opt-out. Information fixes fear. You'll make it worse if you bury it in the fine print; that will confirm suspicions that you have something to hide.)

[contact-form-7 id="27185" title="contact-form 3 TellAFriend-Post"]