Thursday, November 29, 2007

Facebook U-turn

Yesterday David posted a message on our group board asking us to consider joining the Facebook protest group against Facebook. Well, things move pretty fast in cyberspace.

This last night on the Times;
Facebook prodded into privacy U-turn

A Facebook spokesman said: "Facebook is listening to feedback from its users and committed to evolving Beacon so users have even more control over the actions shared from participating sites with their friends on Facebook.

This morning's New York Times reports;
Facebook Retreats on Online Tracking

Late yesterday the company made an important change, saying that it would not send messages about users’ Internet activities without getting explicit approval each time. Civic Action, the political group that set up the online petition, said the move was a positive one.

I'm on the mailing list so I had received an invitation to join the Facebook protest via MoveOn about a week ago. MoveOn has over 3 million members. I'm not a member, just on the mailing list so I don't know the actual number of people who would have received this petition notification. The activist/political blogosphere was also very active in promoting the cause and condemning Facebook. The mainstream press then picked up the story and it became an international event.

What I find most interesting is not only the speed of which this became an; issue, protest, conflict, then resolution, but also the transnational nature of the activism. I think of this as transnational viral grassroots activism. Furthermore, I think this may be the first significant example of cyber social/political action challenging policies relegated within the cyber sphere.

There are two earlier posts about Facebook worth reading if you haven't already, here and here.