Facebook finally learns from its mistakes (or did they?)
Thursday, February 26, 2009
After a few weeks of controversy over a change in their terms of service (TOS) agreement, Facebook today has announced it has apparently learned from its mistakes and will open this process up to the users. It is hard for me to fathom why this has taken such a long time given that this is what social media is all about. Why has it taken five years for the world's fastest growing social network to start listening and engaging its community?
Why has it taken five years for the world's fastest growing social network to start listening and engaging its community?
Facebook is opening up two documents for discussion. The first is basically a user's bill or rights called the Facebook Principles. The second document is a replacement to the TOS called the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Both documents are housed in separate groups that invite conversation and engagement. Once that dialogue happens, the community will vote for and against changes a la Wikipedia.
They're still keeping a nice big loophole open.
All of this is great, but the wording in Mark Zuckerberg's post about this topic is very interesting. He talks about innovation and "disruptive technologies" that "will not be subject to the notice and comment or voting requirement". So they're still keeping a nice big loophole open.
The overall management of the operation is what I see being the largest problem. Facebook's Groups are not good at handling a large conversation. It's a glorified message board. When 10,000 people respond, how do you ensure people are heard? How do you filter down the hot items? Who does that filtering? Sounds like a big hurdle that could backfire.
A couple of thoughts and questions on this move:
- The command and control approach Facebook has taken in the past seems to be dying off
- Still unclear what happens if something is enacted that impacts Facebook's business if they will adopt it
- In Facebook's five year existence, it's hard to imagine why this hasn't happened sooner
- How can they effectively manage thousands of points of feedback and narrow it down? Who does the narrowing?
- Does the loophole I note above make this futile?
- What are the legal implications of the community dictating policy? What if there is a conflict?
- Should businesses look at adopting this approach to their online engagement?
So, what are your thoughts on this? Are you satisfied with the new process? Do you feel they've learned from their mistakes? Let me know!
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