Sunday, May 16, 2010

Facebook and Privacy - NZ view

There's been a significant amount of international attention about the amount of private data held by both Facebook and Google in the past few months. The recent announcement of Facebook's Open Graph API had web owners delighting in the possibility of rich customer data available for mining, insights and *shock/horror* one to one communication in the form of email, mobile and physical location.

So do New Zealanders care? According to Google Insights, it would appear so. In the past year, the top 'rising search' relating to privacy was 'Facebook privacy', with growth of 250% over the previous year.
Furthermore, when tracking the search phrase 'privacy' and 'facebook delete', we can see a fairly close correlation between peaks of public interest - particularly in the past eight weeks. Over the past few weeks the NZ blogosphere has been abuzz, and the mainstream NZ media has picked up the ever evolving story. There's now a well meaning but misguided status update doing the rounds in Facebook.

Whilst this setting is turned off by default, the small print below doesn't discount the opportunity for your data to be shared if they are one of your friends - and that depends on the security settings consumers apply to their friends, not to the third parties.
It will be interesting to watch where this goes. Personally, I think the majority of Facebook's 1.6M New Zealand user base will be apathetic to the privacy settings and most advertisers are ethical enough to respect these as the potential consumer insights at a macro level open up a whole new world of targeting. However the worldwide controversy (Facebook had an emergency meeting last Friday to discuss their response) are likely to see the product and privacy settings evolve further.

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