Disclaimer: The opinions of the columnists are their own and not necessarily those of their employer.
Kenneth F. Belva

An End User Privacy Issue with Facebook and MySpace

Lately I’ve been exploring MySpace and Facebook and I’d love to ask everyone to join my networks.

I know a good number of people through various activities: professional, social (acquaintances), social (close friends), college alumni, internet blogging contacts, etc.

Different people I know should be privy to different personal information.

And that’s just the issue: I have many groups, but I cannot define my own groups, assign individual profiles I approve to a group I’ve defined and set the privacy settings per group. I must rely on the networks and groups created on Facebook or MySpace.

The upshot of this is that I cannot create one profile and invite everyone. I must either create different profiles or carefully select whom I invite (since I would not want someone whom I know professionally to potentially know the same information as my very close friends).

Between Facebook and MySpace, Facebook comes the closest to allowing one to set privacy control in a granular fashion. It’s certainly not easy or intuitive to set such controls. My issue with the Facebook structure is that one must rely on groups created through Facebook. It would be socially awkward to create a group or a network and then ask someone to join a group that one created specifically for that purpose. I have yet to see such group controls on Myspace at all.

It seems to me that adding such controls would increase the value of their products by allowing an individual to create a single profile to rule them all…

This is in addition to the vexing privacy issues surrounding targeting ad and social networking.

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