The first is what Zuckerberg calls “one simple control”. In the past, managing who could have access to your page was a complicated process. Facebook had so many different options it was daunting for users to figure out what exactly they were sharing and with whom. The “one simple control” method works just as its name suggests. The options have been boiled down to sharing all your information with everyone, friends of friends, or just friends. These settings are perpetual and will affect any future Facebook functionality. You also have the option of customizing your privacy settings to best suit your needs. So if you want to share your birthday and hometown with everyone, your wall posts with friends of friends and your pictures with just your friends, you can.
Next is whether or not your profile and friends’ pages are viewable by unfamiliar Facebook users. This is the most hermetic option as it makes your profile effectively invisible to anyone you don‘t know. Zuckerberg does notrecommend this because he says it would make it harder for your non-Facebook-friend friends to find you.
The last big change (and my favourite) is an option controlling how third party applications and sites access your information. It will allow you to choose between giving them unfettered access (the web equivalent of letting them rummage through your underwear drawer) or walling yourself off on a tiny, private digital island with only your friends.
But still, I must frown at Facebook. They assume that everyone wants a ticket to the big digital information swap, so the totally open snoop option will be the default on all newly-created accounts and the recommended option on the privacy settings page.
Despite that last little gaff, it would seem that things are hunky-dory now, right? Well, no.
I’m still not convinced Facebook has my best interests at heart. One of Facebook’s best features is also the one that makes me distrust it: it’s free. Facebook has millions of users, each consuming a fair chunk of server space and bandwidth. However, since none of us freeloaders pay a cent, Facebook has to find other ways of covering costs, namely advertising. If advertisers are the ones funding Facebook, who is the site truly loyal to? According to a recent Pew study, 27 per cent of users said they would “never” trust a social networking site.This is where Diaspora comes in. No, not the geographical scattering of an ethnicity or plant seeds. Diaspora is the name of a new social network under development by four twentysomething college students at New York University.
Diaspora is theoretically but not totally free. It will be free, open-source software, but the catch is that you’re responsible for it. You will need to house it on either on a computer or a server. The Diaspora team has said that it will be fairly easy to use and set up, but hardware (either a computer or dedicated web server to run the software) and all (if any) Internet traffic costs fall to the users. Alternatively, you would also be able to pay for hosted service. The Diaspora team’s promise is to “let us connect without surrendering our privacy.” Users will be able to totally control their personal information.
When it comes to privacy on the Internet, almost all responsibility falls to the user. You have to be aware of whom you deal with and you should expect that, unless you take measures to protect yourself, you will be an open target for companies looking to track you and your personal information.
For more information about Diaspora, go to joindiaspora.com