Why Facebook Will Never Get Privacy Right

When a restaurant reopens under the same management but with a different "concept," you know it's in trouble right from the start. For some reason, restaurant owners refuse to believe that the failure of their establishment has everything to do with them and nothing to do with whether it's a "tapas bar" or a "gastropub" or an "organic new american bistro." It's the same thing with Facebook and their privacy settings. Facebook, the problem is you.

Yesterday Facebook announced some changes to their privacy settings, including a section that TechCrunch singled out, called "Friends, Tags and Connections."

First of all, I'm not even sure I'd know under what circumstances I'd need to click on this section. It sounds more like a place where I'd manage my list of friends. If I clicked at all it would be out of curiosity, not out of deliberate intention.

Secondly, as TechCrunch points out, Facebook's own explanation of these settings actually makes them even more confusing:

Friends, Tags and Connections covers information and content that’s shared between you and others on Facebook. This includes relationships (shared between you and the person you’re in the relationship with), interests, and photos you’re tagged in. These settings let you control who sees this information on your actual profile. However, it may still be visible in other places unless you remove it from your profile itself.

If everyone I've ever known weren't on Facebook I'd seriously think about deleting my profile. Between the annoying Farmville and Mafia Wars status updates, the creepy ads in the sidebar, the requests to join meaningless fan pages, the half-baked email application, the fact that they "own" all the photos I upload, and of course all their previous privacy missteps, the Facebook experience is just awful from start to finish. And there's really nothing they can do to ever make me trust that they are approaching the issue of privacy with the seriousness and simplicity that it deserves.
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