The Consumer Matters is the blog of Leslie Grandy, aka Gearhead Gal.  My passion is creating and delivering compelling products that delight customers through simple and elegant user experience design.

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Facebook Friends, Sort Of

RT@peterpham Shldnt be this hard RT @joshelman: I think I got FB privacy set up right. I used 4 test accts to check from friend, fr of fr,nonfriend, etc.

All of us Facebook users by now have wrestled with the idea of who to "friend" and ignore, and now that the new privacy settings are live, it appears we are all doing it again. Although most of us have adapted to the notion that we had only two choices - confirm or ignore - we now have to adjust our thinking back to the idea that there are levels of friendship.

On the surface, privacy settings are an obvious evolution for Facebook, and these tools address a big concern that has potentially blocked some consumers from joining the juggernaut of social networks or adding more people to their networks. But for the more than 65 million of us existing users, users who have debated the 'confirm' or 'ignore' question with every invitation, it presents a bit of a quandary. With so many combinations of settings when there were so few before, will it be easy for me to remember who has access to what information anymore? Life was so simple when I knew if you were a friend or someone to ignore. The relationship between my content stream and my friends was clean. You saw it or you didn't.  But now there are tiers of disclosure. And that means more settings.

If you know me at all, you know I am a huge proponent of giving consumers control and choice. But adding tools like this seem to "complexify" what was a pretty simple, binary communication experience - we're friends, and we share.

I recently connected with my older brother on Facebook, who became my second family member to join my network. Both live and work in different cities, not where I live or where we grew up. And I don't know either of their friends at all. Their "friends of friends" network looks a lot like the category now called "everyone" to me, and so that distinction seems especially insufficient for publishing personal posts.  In turn, the things I communicate to my family about my day to day has changed dramatically over the years, especially since I moved away from home. The current privacy groupings fail to help address the special kinds of communications families share.



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