Archive for May, 2010

DWBP16: Trent is back!

May 17th, 2010  |  Published in Podcasts

Now that Trent is back we finally got around to make a new episode and finally can talk about Facebook. Not the “old news” of the changes from the F8 conference as planned first but about it’s privacy issues instead.

Will distributed social networks be the solution? Will the finally take off? Or will Facebook stay the centralized place for everybody?

Also in this episode: A summary of the European Identity Conference.

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(Download MP3, 44.3MB, 0:47:19)


Eve Maler, PayPal, UMA Group at Kantara Initiave (blog, twitter)

Steve Greenberg,, Inc, blog, twitter

J. Trent Adams, ISOC(blog, twitter)

Christian Scholz, COM.lounge GmbH (blog, twitter)



IIW, May 17-19

OpenID Summit Europe, June 8th, London

European e-Identity Management Conference, 9-10 June

Report: European Identity Conference (

UMA workshop info:

Eve’s preso that was a prelude to the Data Portability panel.

“We’re all individuals!” … “I’m not.”

Facebook’s Privacy Problem

Steve’s Issue with Facebook

Two quick points, one about the geneal privacy conversation and the other about the “Like” button.

It’s not simply about “privacy” in the sense that I don’t want people to hear what I’m saying.  I use twitter nearly every day and, yes, I even blog once in a while.  But, like most people, I speak differently depending on the audience.  I say things to my friends that I might not say in public, or at the very least I’d say them more diplomatically.   Facebook led me to believe that the things I was posting would be seen only by the people I chose, so I sometimes used my “inside” voice (shut up, yes I do).  Then Facebook said, “oh yeah, we decided to make everything public because it’s profitable for us to pretend that privacy is dead.”  When people complained about this, their answer was: “Sucker”.

To me, it’s a simple question: What expectation did they lead me to have about who would see what I do on their service?  Imagine that FB was good, but one of my friends was republishing everything that I wrote.  Would that be ok, if that was a person?  No, it wouldn’t.  And if, when I said to that person, “what are you doing” and they responded, “I publish everything you write because I think privacy is dead”, I’d say “You don’t get to make that decision for me.”

I’m also very troubled by what they’re doing with the Like button.  Imagine that my hypothetical friend said to me, “Because you’re my friend, I’m going to watch over your shoulder as you surf the internet and write down every site that you go to… and tell everyone”.  You might say, “This is just a way for you to share stuff back to facebook.  They only do this when you click ‘Like'”, but I don’t think that’s true.   I think that it’s a stealth web tracking tool.

It looks to me as though the “Like” button is a tracking network for advertisers.  Early on there was a bug where sites you visited would silently add apps to your profile when you visited their site.  This wouldn’t be possible if Facebook wasn’t tracking the places you visited, even when you don’t click like.

So, what this looks like to me is that Facebook is leveraging their users to get sites to add facebook connect and the “like” button.  The sites get the potential of broad distribution, the users get to share cool stuff with their friends.  The price?  Facebook gets to track everything you do, and everywhere you go, for the purpose of selling it to advertses.  For me, at least, that price is too high.  I still use Facebook, but I use it very differently and I sign out when I’m done.  And I clear my cookies.

Am I being paranoid?  Aren’t there fifty tracking tokens on every web page I visit?  Sure, but none of them know exactly who I am.  That’s the part I don’t like.  I don’t mind being targeted as a member of a demographic (none of us is really the unique snowflake we think we are), but when you start to track exactly me by name and address, and tell my friends about it?  Not cool, dude.

Ok, thank you.  Also, I haven’t seen anyone talk about how the Like button is tracking us.  That’s downright creepy.

Yes, there’s been a dearth of comment on the implications of “Like” so far. I don’t think people really get it yet.

“Why I don’t like ‘Like'”

I’ve noticed that in tech conversations lately, no one can say the word “like” anymore without saying it ironically/specially/FB-ishly. Annoying! It comes out already uppercased with air quotes.

We’re children of the ironic 80s.  Everything we have ever said was in uppercase with air quotes 😀