Facebook Privacy Flap: Lessons Learned

Dan Olds, principal analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group, said reverting to the old terms-of-use policy was a smart move, but he added that the outcry that arose this week over the changes shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone.

"People are very protective of this kind of stuff and paranoid about how it might be used," added Olds. "Facebook grossly underestimated people's feeling of ownership over their various posts and pictures, and they also underestimated people's belief that someone wants to exploit their data. Facebook needs to realize that they are very large now and need to step lightly and make more subtle moves to avoid huge hassles like this."

Byrne said he hopes that the incident is a strong reminder that people need to be wary about what they post on social networking sites.

"You're publishing like you would in a newspaper or a book," he noted. "Facebook is using the same kind of concept. Instead of a letter to the editor, it's a picture of three college students drinking out of a funnel. People are crazy if they don't think there are long-term repercussions.... I wouldn't put anything up that would raise eyebrows with my friends, my employer or my clients."

He added that simply because people are sharing information with their friends, they tend to forget the bigger picture.

"The fact that there was such an outcry means people had not thought through their privacy concerns," said Byrne. "Now they're looking at this and realizing it's not just about their content and friends but there's a company behind this that wants to make money."

Jeremy Kirk of the IDG News Service contributed to this article.

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