Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Facebook Privacy Gets an Upgrade

One of the great things about competition is that it helps the consumer. When companies compete, we win. Case in point? Facebook and Google. As you know, Google finally came out with a social network that actually works: Google+ And they're doing their darndest now to differentiate themselves from Facebook and prove to everyone why they should switch over to Google's offering.

The only problem for Google, of course, is that Facebook can sit back and watch what Google does well, then imitate that on their own site. In some ways, it's like Facebook didn't get a competitor, they gained a free R&D branch of their company.

Just take the recent development of Facebook tweaking their privacy settings. Google+ had some privacy settings that ended up being admired by many (namely, the ease with which users could choose what information was available to whom on Google+). Then again, Google also has some privacy settings which people don't like at all (being forced to use real names, for example). So what did Facebook do? It casually adopted some of the things Google had figured out worked.

Gee, thanks.

Some people are making fun of Facebook for doing this, but in the end, it's just good business. They have the high ground, and as long as they keep being open to change and willing to adapt, that's a very difficult thing to lose. (But it can be done--just look at Internet Explorer.)

My advice? Don't be too in love with any one online offering. If/when Google+ beats the pants off Facebook, I'll make the switch. For now, I haven't been blown away, and I'm still happy with FB. But only fanboys get so enthralled with a service or company that they ignore better products elsewhere. In the end, competition means innovation, and innovation means the consumer wins.

So by all means, FB and Google, fight on.

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