Sunday, September 10, 2006

Facebook feeds - How Swarms turn the Power of Swarms on to themselves

Today's NYT talks about how Facebook - the online diary and meeting site for teens and students - had to turn off its feed feature as soon as it was made available.
Like an RSS reader, the new Facebook feature basically allowed a user to be informed about any change that one of the other Facebook users made to her/his home page. While it seems that today's teens have no problems giving up privacy and sharing intimate detail of their private lives online, this one obviously was too much. What the new feature did, was tell every virtual move of the Facebook page owner to anybody subscribed to his/her page.
Well, the good thing is that the new feature proved really usefully in organizing a communal protest against it - it was fully transparent to everybody who joined the campaign against the new feature, this was an avalanche of protest breaking loose in full public view.
Facebook's operators took the criticism very well. Their solution was to give control back to the users, allowing them to opt out alltogether, or to selectively exclude areas of their page from the Facebook feed.

Yet another example that swarms are great in self-policing and self-enforcement of their community's standard, even while the standards are evolving.

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