Earlier today we had a bit of a fire-drill at TechCrunch Headquarters. As I checked into TCHQ on Facebook Places, I also tagged a few of my coworkers, fully expecting their checkins to be delayed until they actually opted into the feature for the first time (unlike some of Facebook’s past controversial feature launches, you have to Opt-In before you can be tagged in Places). Except, as we quickly discovered, you really don’t have to opt in before you can be tagged.
As soon as I checked in on Places, Facebook published News Feed items to my friends indicating that I’d checked in with my coworkers — even the coworkers who hadn’t yet opted into Places. My coworker received an email asking him to confirm the tag, but he had never clicked it. And yet, many of his friends were being notified that he’d just checked into Techcrunch HQ with me. Convinced that this was a privacy flaw I flagged down Facebook PR, who patiently explained to me that this is actually the way things are supposed to work. Huh?
Turns out, there are three different stages of opting into the service. Let’s spell them out.
Facebook has just posted a video explaining this, which you can watch here.
From Facebook’s standpoint this makes sense, but it’s confusing as hell to users — generally when you opt out of being tagged somewhere, you’d probably expect not to be tagged there at all. For what it’s worth, Facebook knows this is confusing — they’re planning to release a video explaining it in the near future. Still, I think the site should hide any location tags until a user has explicitly said they want to be associated with them.
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 1 billion monthly active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and Eduardo Saverin to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks. The original...