[Air-l] Facebook protests

Michael Zimmer michael.zimmer at nyu.edu
Thu Sep 7 10:56:49 PDT 2006

I fully agree with Fred - it is the violation of the cultural norms  
(what I've been calling the contextual norms of information flow)  
within Facebook that makes this problematic.

On Sep 7, 2006, at 1:32 PM, Fred Stutzman wrote:

> I've written some on the topic, concentrating on how these moves  
> broke the
> cultural norms of the environment.
> # Facebook's shaky standpoint. Facebook takes the stand that feeds
> introduce nothing "new". Unfortunately, this logic fails because
> information disclosure is both quantitative and qualitative.  
> Facebook (sort
> of) gets to claim there is quantitatively no more information being  
> shared
> (more on this later). Qualitatively, the difference is huge.  
> Information
> disclosure is multidimensional. Each day, when you put on your  
> clothes, you
> have assumptions that a certain audience will see you in these  
> clothes.
> Imagine if every day when you got dressed, everyone saw what you were
> wearing - wouldn't you agree that is vastly different? And wouldn't  
> it make
> you feel a little weird? Now multiply this by every information facet
> shared in the Facebook. Perhaps now the problem makes more sense.
> # On the nature of friendship in the Facebook. My research has  
> shown that
> facebook users average hundreds of friends. This means that the  
> nature of
> friendship is different and culturally unique in the Facebook.  
> Friendship
> in the Facebook is cultural currency - I link to you and you link  
> to me.
> Implicit in this is a one-time exchange of social capital, nothing  
> more.
> However, friendship is an absolutely core element of the service -  
> and with
> this change, the nature of friendship in the service, and  
> everything that
> goes along with it, changes. From now on, when you friend someone,  
> you're
> agreeing to let them have a feed of everything you do - this is a huge
> difference from the previous notion of friendship, which users were  
> quite
> comfortable with.
> # On how users explore each other. The common argument for feeds is  
> that
> "the information is out there anyway." So it stands, if you wanted  
> to, you
> could replicate the functionality of feeds by checking your friend's
> profiles every day. This argument fails because this is not how  
> Facebook
> users use the service. Facebook users log in to check their messages,
> respond to pokes, use profiles as "white pages", coordinate events  
> - they
> aren't logging in to surf profiles endlessly (sure, they do this  
> when they
> have an exam the next day, but it isn't the normal activity). Why  
> is this?
> Well, put simply, you know your friends. And the people you've  
> friended
> that aren't really your friends - sure, you'll check them out from  
> time to
> time, but that's not how the site is used. In essence, profiles are  
> just a
> small part of the site.
> Users understand this. When they update their profile, they are  
> updating it
> for a micro-audience of a subset of their friends. They aren't  
> expecting
> everyone they know to see (or care) about every last minute change  
> in their
> life. People have a mental model of disclosure, and this change  
> breaks that
> mental model. Even though "nothing is different", it is clear that
> something absolutely is different. The privacy of being average is  
> gone.
> If interested, more at:
> http://chimprawk.blogspot.com/2006/09/how-facebook-broke-its- 
> culture.html
> Regards,
> Fred
> On Thu, 7 Sep 2006, Nicole Ellison wrote:
>> Hi Nancy, I'm not sure this qualifies as "more thought out" but I  
>> think
>> you've on to something. Yesterday my colleague Cliff Lampe and I  
>> spoke
>> with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal
>> (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115759058710755893.html? 
>> mod=technology_main
>> _promo_left) and this was a slant to the story they wrote: the  
>> fact that
>> facebook users were upset not only about the feature itself, but  
>> also the
>> fact that it seemed to be implemented without any feedback from  
>> users.
>> Which seems to be the case, as this quote from the article  
>> suggests: "Ms.
>> Deitch said Facebook's feedback from users comes in the form of  
>> emails to
>> its customer-service email address, which the company's
>> product-development team reviews weekly. But the company typically
>> doesn't solicit feedback by showing features to users before  
>> launching
>> them." Because these social network sites are built on user-supplied
>> content, users feel more ownership over the site as a whole  
>> (compared to,
>> say, a news portal or e-commerce site). It may be that the  
>> reaction to
>> this change might prompt deeper, better user research on the part of
>> these sites (which I agree is needed). Following up on the earlier
>> conversation: My sense from speaking with students is that they  
>> dislike
>> the feature not because it is pulling already available  
>> information, but
>> because it is displaying profile changes that otherwise would be  
>> hard to
>> identify. If I have 150 friends on the site, I won't typically notice
>> when someone de-friends me. But this feature puts this info in my  
>> face,
>> so to speak.  As the old saying goes: there are some things better  
>> left
>> unsaid. This feature is articulating information we don't necessarily
>> want to hear.
>> N.
>>  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
>> Nicole Ellison, PhD
>> Dept. of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media
>> Michigan State University
>> nellison at msu.edu
>> _______________________________________________
>> The air-l at listserv.aoir.org mailing list
>> is provided by the Association of Internet Researchers http:// 
>> aoir.org
>> Subscribe, change options or unsubscribe at: http:// 
>> listserv.aoir.org/listinfo.cgi/air-l-aoir.org
>> Join the Association of Internet Researchers:
>> http://www.aoir.org/
> -- 
> Fred Stutzman
> claimID.com
> 919-260-8508
> AIM: chimprawk
> _______________________________________________
> The air-l at listserv.aoir.org mailing list
> is provided by the Association of Internet Researchers http://aoir.org
> Subscribe, change options or unsubscribe at: http:// 
> listserv.aoir.org/listinfo.cgi/air-l-aoir.org
> Join the Association of Internet Researchers:
> http://www.aoir.org/

More information about the Air-L mailing list