You're wrong, Facebook is right.

The conversation about Facebook taking over the Internet has a lot of people’s digital panties in a bunch. Even though Facebook is no place to be playing if you are concerned about privacy, but up until the announcement of f8 from Facebook no one felt threatened. The idea that a website can intertwine all the personal efforts you’ve made on the popular social network does feel a little scary, but is that just it, it’s only an idea? Are we more scared of the possibilities than how the technology is actually being implemented?

Jeremiah Owyang, Customer Strategist and Partner at the Alitmeter Group, recently blogged about how Levi’s integrated Facebook’s f8 into their site. In his words, here are the main takeaways:

“Your friends are shopping with you –even if they aren’t present.”

“A more engaged user, without forcing them through registration.”

“Consumers take part in marketing and recommendations, increasing upsell opportunity.”

“Social commerce vendors will integrate with Social CRM –yet should be cautious of user privacy.”

After looking through Levi’s site, here are my takeaways:

  • Facebook has not made changing your settings “easy” enough. I had tightened up my security and privacy settings on Facebook after the f8 announcement, but after “liking” something on Levis.com, it still showed up on my Facebook wall.
    • I was able to “remove” the posting from my wall
    • A feed on Levi’s site allows me to see profile pictures of individuals who have “liked” something on their site.
      • If I click on that persons name on Levi’s feed page, I get a page on Levis.com that profiles that individual, everything they’ve “liked,” and I can invite them to be friends on Facebook.
        • REMEMBER – I’ve never signed in to Facebook on Levis.com!
        • If I choose to log in through Facebook Connect, than I can see what my friends have “liked” on Levis.com, acting as a recommendation.

I ask who is responsible? Or, I guess in this case, who is being irresponsible? Is the user responsible for not reading the privacy policies or terms and conditions of these sites and for not understanding what privacy they are forfeiting by using Facebook or Levis.com? Is Facebook responsible for not respecting their users privacy and inviting business to use our content for marketing purposes? Should we point the finger at Levi’s for exploiting the opportunity to use content from Facebook, that many of its users possibly don’t know that it is being used for Levi’s monetary benefit?

In my personal opinion, all three parties have a level of responsibility to manage their content in a way that is respectful to its original purpose. Where is the line being drawn? If I upload of picture of me on Facebook with the caption, “Check out me in my Levi’s,” is Facebook going to start sending that over to Levi’s to use? Are we simply not evolving at the rate that Facebook is? Is Facebook doing it right and those concerned with privacy are behind the times?

In all honesty, I ask all these questions that I don’t necessarily know the answer to, and I don’t really thing that Facebook’s intentions are malicious. Their mistake is they haven’t given an “easy” route for its users to opt out of f8. Another possible mistake is that Facebook is evolving to a place where they are going to be waiting for users to agree their strategy, rather than the traditional business model of evolving to where the customer is waiting for them to agree that there is a market waiting for them. All technologies need a clear market that has a strong demand for it rather than trying to create a demand for a technology. Sony proved this with several technologies released through the 90’s.

If you are going to play on the Internet, the technology based on a tradition of open source and transparency, you have to accept a deeper level of personal responsibility for participating on sites that have terms and conditions or privacy policies. I’m no lawyer, but legally Facebook and Levi’s are probably in the clear through their privacy policies and term and conditions posted on their site. The users of Facebook that are pissed and confused as to how Facebook is exploiting them, are not wrong on their feelings, but do not fully understand what they exactly committed themselves to when opened their web browser.

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