Can Facebook change from a private to public social space?

In another gutsy (though perhaps misguided) move, Facebook is encouraging all its users to go public with their and statuses and other information. The motivation is clear – take on Twitter, and partly Google. Become a bigger part of the open web.

I will leave others to analyze the privacy implications (which are many). I am interested in a different aspect – is it possible to change from a private social space to a public social space. Can a living room become a bar, or a nook become a public park? Yes, you can encourage individual users to change their preference, but a social space is more than the sum of individual user preferences. For example, Twitter lets users be private. But it is predominantly used as a public space. Similarly social spaces are generally public or private.

If I change my statuses from private to public, then do the expectancies of those around me change as well? What about the interactions between someone who is private and another person who is public?

I think its going to be hard for Facebook to make this change and remain the type of trusted social space they have become. Time will tell, but I am predicting that either the change will not have a major impact (people will stay private), or there will be a backlash.

9 thoughts on “Can Facebook change from a private to public social space?

  1. Your analogy “can a living room become a bar” is brilliant. Twitter is a superficial, impersonal meeting place where we choose what small snippets to share. Facebook is like a house where we store ourselves (contact information, photos, etc) and share and play with our friends and family. Of course I’ve met and made friends on Twitter with whom I’ve chosen to share more with…but not on Twitter, those friends then move up to the next level of friendship: Facebook. So much like meeting in a bar, you don’t bring them all to your house. Great article. ~ Donna

  2. Different horses for different courses. Twitter is fine for one kind of social interaction and Facebook is fine for sharing more information about yourself albeit with fewer people.

    The social media space takes a lot of thought and a bit of planning for a regular user. LinkedIn is purely professional and any content I put on there is serious and quite dry.

    Facebook is more frivolous and embraces my personal and professional life. My FB friends number professional acquaintances across all continents and a diverse range of backgrounds, races and religions; friends I’ve made through competitive sport; general friends I’ve met along the way (for a variety of backgrounds around the world); artists; techi’s; lawyers; music biz types, Silicon Valley types; university friends and school friends from way back.

    I am OK with work friends seeing a flavour of my personal life, provided it is not too much and I am OK with different sets of friends interacting on my page provided it is in a positive manner. The social aspect of FB has definitely enhanced and given context to valuable business relationships; and it goes without saying I LOVE contacting with old friends who I would otherwise have lost touch with.

    Problems sometimes occur when a friend from one set posts a comment on my FB page that other friends might find unacceptable or contentious. For instance, I had an Lebanese friend post an anti-Obama and anti-Israeli message on my FB page. I was horrified and PM’d him, explained my reasoning and he quickly deleted. I would not have wanted important business contacts (some of whom are pro-Israeli) to be offended. It all seems like quite a bit of effort, but in general I’ve learned how to approach FB as it develops and it is rare that I have to take any kind of action or even delete friends.

    The important thing is I can choose my friends and choose what they see; while giving something of myself that is fun and hopefully engaging to people I know. But like any social environment FB has developed into a ecosystem and ecosystems need careful developing and nurturing. The recent moves are a serious detraction from that and I have made changes to my privacy settings as a result. If FB go any further it may reach a point when I leave altogether … and that would be a great pity because right now I remain an FB cheerleader.

  3. i’ve being using FB for years now i dont see any changes apart from few changes made to their page.. anyway facebook does making sure that everything is secured for their users.

  4. Pingback: When The Living Room Becomes A Stadium // Project Shrink Blog

  5. Pingback: When The Living Room Becomes A Stadium | Project Shrink

Comments are closed.