That’s the question that Don Dodge is discussing over at the excellent “The Next Big Thing” blog. It’s a great overview of some of the most important questions out on the Web 2.0-o-sphere right now. One of the more interesting points is around privacy:
One panelist said “Privacy doesn’t matter anymore. If it did, Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube wouldn’t exist. This is the “Full Monty” generation.” The trend is certainly in that direction, but the Facebook Beacon experience suggests we aren’t there yet.
Two very good points – so why would someone (like me) post many personal details out on the web but that same person (me again) be completely turned off by Beacon? I’d argue that it all comes back to a simple question: what’s in it for me?
When I post my personal email here on my blog (firstname.lastname@example.org), I’m sacrificing a tiny bit of my privacy for the chance that someone interesting will find my email and send me a nice note. Same goes for the reasoning behind posting my favorite movie on my MySpace profile. I love the movie Wayne’s World! Do you? Great, we have something in common, let’s talk!
However, when I used the CBS NCAA college football pool app on Facebook and clicked over to watch one of the games that was in progress, I got a Beacon message asking if I wanted to broadcast to my friends that I was watching a basketball game. So why didn’t I want that to appear in my Facebook feed? Because it was a Thursday afternoon and I probably should have been working! I have lots of work contacts listed as friends on Facebook, and while they probably wouldn’t really care if I watched a few minutes of a game during a break between emails, it probably isn’t the best signal to send. The “what’s in it for me” coefficient suddenly went negative, and I’ve turned off all future Beacon notifications ever since.