My advice to Facebook: Ask permission, dammit

Facebook got into this mess because it used our information without asking nicely. Time for this social network to learn some manners.


Lord knows there's been a lot of debate about Facebook's attitude toward its 400+ million members' privacy. The network has weathered a s***storm of criticism from all corners, while a handful of largely asinine things have been written in defense of Facebook (most of which boil down to "Hey, if you didn't want to make this stuff public you shouldn't have put it on Facebook," which I'll get to in a moment.)

Today, uber-blogger Robert Scoble leaps in with the question "When do you throw a CEO’s privacy under the bus?" His somewhat strained point: The same people who are up in arms about Facebook and privacy (ie, us media types) have no qualms publishing the private email replies of CEOs like Steve Jobs.

(That premise is a bit undercooked -- I've been highly critical of Facebook and have yet to publish any private emails from Steve. But I digress.)

[ See also: Facebook's privacy controls are seriously broken ]

Scoble believes people who quote Steve Jobs' emails online are violating Jobs' privacy. Well, maybe. The only person who'd really know that is Steve Jobs. And I suspect Jobs is savvy enough to understand that when he replies to a question from a member of the public, his response is also going to become public.

Scoble make a big deal about how he'd never quote an email without the sender's permission, then (having gained permission) proceeds to quote CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a rather bland admission that Facebook has "made a bunch of mistakes" and is planning to announce some changes this week.

(Given that several other sources have already signaled Facebook is ready to throw in the towel some time this week, this news is really less than earth shattering. But again, I digress.)

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