Here is a pared down version of a recent conversation on the Facebook wall of a friend of mine: Friend: "Anyone want to try out Orkut with me, as an alternative to the awfulness that Facebook is becoming?"
Me: "I want to leave Facebook, but I don't know if Orkut is the answer. Is Friendster still around? Or maybe Twitter + Foursquare is enough."
Friend: "One thing I do find funny about this whole Facebook dustup is that people are like, 'Facebook is making all my stuff public without my permission! That is so lame! I am going to go use Twitter, which is 100% public.'"
Me: "Right, because at least Twitter doesn't give me a million different privacy checkboxes and confusing howtos to deal with. Also Twitter DMs are not public."
Thinking about it more, the whole Facebook privacy debacle actually makes my Twitter profile seem less public than my Facebook profile. Or, to clarify, it is much easier to figure out what is public and what is not on Twitter.
I know that every single status update I make on Twitter is public, so I know not to put anything there that I don't want to be public. Or I can choose a setting in my account that locks all of my Tweets if I want, in which case only those I approve can follow me. As I said above, Twitter DMs are completely private. No room for grey area.
The problem with Facebook isn't that some things are public and some are not. The problem is that, as far as I'm concerned, it is impossible for me to figure out what is and isn't public. It's also impossible for me to figure out whether the changes I've made to my privacy settings actually do what I'm expecting them to do.
That makes Facebook more dangerously public than Twitter. And that is increasingly making me want to deactivate my Facebook account. I just need to figure out how to properly alert friends on Facebook so they can contact me in other ways if necessary.
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