Facebook: with great power comes great responsibility

I have been playing with Facebook lately to check its potential. Everything started when William Ward invited me there in a moment when I was vulnerable (it was before I started the MBA: a few weeks later and I would have gently declined the invitation). In the last weeks I enlarged my network, joined Politecnico network, started fiddling with the MIP group with my colleague Francesco del Vecchio. I advertised the conference about Open Source as business model in the Politecnico network and I got a taste of Facebook’s potential: 220 subscriptions from Facebook. A success. The room was full all the time, with many students. (5 subscriptions came from FB, see Eugenio’s comment). FSF is also experimenting with it as a mean to raise funds and draw attention to the cause.

Is Facebook too good to be true? I was less excited when banners about impotence started to show up close to my profile. What? Then I read on yesterday’s Wall Street Journal about a more serious privacy issue: Facebook’s knowledge of what you do online extends beyond the Facebook.com domain. In other words, if you buy a Christmas present for your friend, (s)he will see it on the News Feed … so long surprise. David Weinberger explains very well why Facebook’s defaults are wrong.

It’s bad to see things that are so useful and fun being damaged by such unfair practices. Companies must all learn the lesson that with with great power comes great responsibility. Being fair to the users is not an option. Meanwhile I’m joining the MoveOn protest and reinforced AdBlock rules to stop all banners from *.ads.facebook.com/*.