Friday 30 November 2007

Will the real Charlene Li step forward?

I'm not sure what worries me more in Charlene Li's post about Facebook's new Beacon advertising system - the problems with Facebook Beacon or the fact that Charlene has two Facebook accounts, one for her analyst persona and the other for her (apparently) real persona:

"I'm not sure of all of the details, but I suspect that if I had logged into my "personal" Facebook account first (yes, I have two Facebook accounts and unless you know my personal email, you won't find my truly personal Facebook profile), that Overstock activity would have been logged to that Facebook profile."

On the Facebook issue, I can see some value in Beacon if the user has the right level of control over privacy. On the other hand, the cookie-based approach sounds a little clunky. But the persona issue I find more interesting. Now, I know you shouldn't throw stones in glasshouses because like Charlene I limit the personal information I publish on the Web but in terms of my online identity there is only one. Maybe I'm being a little naive but I'm a little more disturbed about the impact of people developing fake relationships with fake people in Facebook than I am by a clunky marketing system that needs some fine tuning. In that respect, that's the really compelling reason for Facebook to get its marketing systems and privacy control working right and working together just so we can keep our online relationships - professional and personal - real.

BTW Some of the comments in a reply to Charlene's post are worth reading - you have to feel sorry for the guy who bought an engagement ring and Facebook then announced it to his friends (ruining the surprise).

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:17 pm

    Charlene here -- Allow me to clarify. Both of my Facebook accounts are really me. I have a very public persona related to my job as a Forrester analyst covering Facebook. That profile uses my work address, my work address, my work phone number.

    I also have a private persona that I take great pains to, well, keep private. That Facebook account is there for the day when my personal friends finally make it on to Facebook (most are not there today). I post personal photos of my family, recipes -- thing that my professional network of "friends" would find pretty odd.

    So which is the real me? Both are. And until Facebook allows me to separate my professional and personal friends, profile, content, applications, etc. from one account, I'm afraid I'm stuck with this crazy system!


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