Privacy, Security, and Reliability – Part 1

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One of the first things anyone offering a service should keep in mind is that to ensure loyalty you have to create an atmosphere of trust through offering privacy, security, and reliability. While you can’t always deliver on these promises, it is important to keep them in mind and acknowledge their importance in your success. In the next three posts I’m going to look at each of these three important elements one by one, and a company that has had to deal with one of each.
Facebook and the elusive quest for privacy
We’ve already covered how competition in the search space is forcing search engines to compete on privacy. But this time we’re going to look at a different company in a different space. Facebook learned the importance of protecting users’ privacy the hard way. About a year ago, Facebook implemented a new feature called ‘News Feeds’ that would display every action you took on the site to your friends, without giving the users the option to hide that information from anyone. This resulted in outrage on the social networking site. Members created petitions, groups on the site (some with hundreds of thousands of members), and many wrote about it on their own blogs until they were issued anofficial apology in addition to strict privacy options from the site’s founder.
Then, in the beginning of this month, some code used on Facebook’s home page and search page was accidentally exposed due to a configuration problem on the site’s server, which raised concerns about how secure your private data on the site really is. If that wasn’t enough for one month, the site may have another potential privacy disaster on its hands now. Just as the blogosphere was giving Facebook glowing reviews for opening up access to the data on the site and for allowing people to retrieve data from the site using rss feeds and without actually visiting the site, Steve O’Hear points out that users’ private data can be exposed through these rss feeds regardless of their privacy settings.
While some mistakes are understandable and to an extent acceptable as the cost of doing business, repeat offenders will find themselves not only losing valuable users but in the middle of a pr disaster as well.

Cameron Olthuis

Cameron Olthuis

Cameron Olthuis

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