My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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change of plans wrt Facebook… please forgive me

A few months ago, I publicly declared a loss of context with respect to Facebook. I gave up and accepted people that I knew from the interweb, those who have been so kind to me, and many others that aren’t part of my intimate social circles. Unfortunately, this messed up some other things and due to a personal situation, I’ve decided to rescind on this.

One of the problems with SNSs is that it’s all about the networks, not the individuals. By opening up the doors with my Facebook, I exposed many of my friends and colleagues to unwanted observation by people that they didn’t know and people that I couldn’t vouch for. I don’t want my visibility to affect my friends.

The worst part about this is that I need to now make “cuts.” There’s nothing more horrible than having to classify “real” friends and not. And I’m going to fuck up. To make this somewhat better, I decided to take the advice of previous commenters and make a more “public” Facebook profile that will be visible to anyone who is interested. I will also accept friend requests there from people that I want to get to know. Right now that profile is pretty empty, but I will fix it shortly. I’ll actually play with Apps on the new profile while I’ve been ignoring and rejecting them mostly on my other profile.

I apologize to those that I offend in this process, but I need to do this to be a good friend to those that I care dearly about. Please forgive me for cutting you – I don’t mean harm by this but I need to separate those who I know through my professional life from those who are part of my personal worlds. If you want to friend me on Facebook, please friend this profile.

Also, I still don’t respond to FB email so please don’t write me there. I can barely keep up with one queue so I refuse to add others to the situation.

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13 comments to change of plans wrt Facebook… please forgive me

  • I’d be interested to see how FB deals with this. Have heard of them removing profiles for various reasons… not that I’d be telling of course. I think you’ve come up with a good solution and have friended you, maybe I fit into the ‘get to know’ category. Who knows ;-0. Enjoying your blog, you rock! xxDan

  • Good solution, and a way not to feel too intrusive by sending a “friend” request. Could it however be (or have been) a better solution to choose a less ‘personal’ SNS for this kind of SN, such as Xing or LinkedIn (regarding what you wrote about the issues of networked publics)?

    Esp. if Google’s OpenSocial works out as a Meta-SNS technology, I’d be happy to have that kind of super-SNS “public” public and a “personal” networked public in FB.

  • The real problem is that all social networks deal with friendship as a flat and equal thing – when it’s not in real life.

    We all have best friends that we’re more open with, but social networks have no such concept. We have work friends who we hang around with at work and work related social situations but who we wouldn’t invite to party at house because we don’t want the work and personal worlds colliding. And the list goes on -

    While platforms like Facebook are ostensibly social – they lack the nuance that we all use in our daily lives to manage our networks.

    What would be nice is a simple 3 dimensional descriptor that would allow people to characterize their perception of the relationship when they accepted a “new friend”. That descriptor would characterize the way that person could see and access information from the recipients’ network.

    As an interim solution you method will of course work – but should you have to work around the software.

  • facebook need the option to show things to just “some of my networks and some of my friends” on this page: http://tcnj.facebook.com/privacy.php?view=profile

    Letting people select which friends to show which elements would be horribly obtuse but that level of control is exactly why some people I know have 2 profiles.. one for private friends and another for more open networking.

    Livejournal seems to have always had great privacy control. Any livejournal post could be set to only show to a select few people. Either by picking them individually or by preset groups.

  • I think this totally makes sense as a move. Out of curiosity, why not leave your old one as the public and create a new “close friends only” account? This would mean less painful removing of not-quite-close-enough friends. Of course, it also means adding work to your real friends (have to befriend Danah II) maybe it’s not any better…

    Good luck with the “cuts.” It’s probably best done in your finest Homer Simpson voice, although it’s going to suck either way.

  • I’ve had a troubled history with FaceBook – I generally try to only “friend” people that I’ve met and know outside of the Internet, or in addition to it. But what of people I knew through my five years of opping Undernet channels? Through my time as a BBS operator, pre-Internet? I know these people, and I’d be a hypocrite to say that the interactions I had with those electronic bodies were any less “real” than those I had with corporeal ones – and certainly, they were more involved than people I knew in high school (where a good number of “friend” requests come from).

    I once had a good row with my partner over adding a couple of professors I know in her department as well (though my Ma supervisor is in her department, I am actually stationed within another). She argued that I was not, in fact, “friends” with the professors, and that it was in fact a professional relationship that shouldn’t transgress that boundary. I argued that Facebook didn’t leave me with any other choice but the term “friend”, and that users of the community were aware of the troublesome nature of that term, but forced to use it to define their network of relationships.

    It always comes down to semantics, doesn’t it?

  • Susan

    I’ve been thinking about this problem myself. As you say, the difficulty is that while ‘one’ may decide that FB is simply a restricted public place ‘ones friends’ have not made that decision and may think of FB as a private space. I’m not sure that excluding total strangers helps entirely.

    Example: A friend commented on one of my photo, ending with a statement critical of her place of employment. This comment could be read by all of my friends – including someone else who works there (albeit in another department and not the snitchy sort).

  • my friends will be help me together ok.

  • my friends will be help me together ok.

  • Roxann

    I can’t get the changes in profile to take effect. These are security and privacy issues for my daughter, and I am VERY upset that there seems to be no way to contact FB directly.

  • oh really thats sucks and you did my purpose so i did ones of week what your day so far i think is like a your idia.

  • oh really thats sucks and you did my purpose so i did ones of week what your day so far i think is like a your idia.

  • oh really thats sucks and you did my purpose so i did ones of week what your day so far i think is like a your idia.

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