The Future of Sharing on Facebook: A Hybrid Public/Private Model

After Facebook’s press event yesterday announcing public profiles and the real-time home page “stream,” I briefly chatted with Mark Zuckerberg about the future of sharing on Facebook. Essentially, Mark said things are headed toward a hybrid model in which some information shared by users can be private and some information shared by users can be public, depending on users’ preferences.

This direction means users will need to think in new ways about sharing on Facebook. Historically, sharing on Facebook has been managed through Facebook’s robust privacy settings, with most of the default settings being set relatively strictly (usually limiting access to most information to others in your school or regional networks). Now, Facebook users will also have the option to easily share some information much more openly – even completely publicly for the whole world (and search engines) to see if they so choose.

While Zuckerberg said Facebook is still working on the user interface that would make such sharing settings robust and easy to use, these changes are going to have significant implications for the nature of sharing on Facebook.

Whereas to date sharing on Facebook has been largely symmetrical (or bi-directional between two people), now it could become increasingly asymmetrical (you’re following U2′s updates, but U2 is not following yours, and so on). This means that the characteristics of the average piece of information showing up in the stream is going to change: whereas to date Facebook users have seen private updates from their real friends (at least in the confirmed bi-directional relationship sense) in the stream, now users might see a mix of private friend updates, public friend updates, and public fan updates.

For example:

  • Private friend update: “Jenny just posted photos from her trip to grandma’s house this weekend: [1] [2] [3]“
  • Public friend update: “Jonathan New blog post: My Favorite New iPhone Apps”
  • Public fan updates: “Bobby Jindal just added a new video”

What implications will this have for the culture of sharing on Facebook?

I don’t know how exactly Facebook is going to blend these types of updates in the stream, because neither the new home page nor updated privacy controls have been launched yet. A lot depends on how it’s executed.

But while Facebook is certainly a unique case, Twitter is probably the closest analogy as an asymmetrical communication platform – though MySpace is certainly relevant in many ways too. Will Facebook become more like Twitter in terms of why information is sometimes or often shared?

It will be interesting to see how Facebook users adapt their information sharing habits given the new more open ways that information will flow across Facebook.

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12 Responses to “The Future of Sharing on Facebook: A Hybrid Public/Private Model”

  1. When Will Facebook Open Up the Public Timeline? says:

    [...] announced yesterday that it is merging user profiles and fan profiles starting now and allowing users to make their updates public if they so choose at some point in the (presumably not too distant) [...]

  2. Unit Structures – Facebook and the Death of Networks says:

    [...] InsideFacebook reports on the coming “opening up” of Facebook: After Facebook’s press event yesterday announcing public profiles and the real-time home page “stream,” I briefly chatted with Mark Zuckerberg about the future of sharing on Facebook. Essentially, Mark said things are headed toward a hybrid model in which some information shared by users can be private and some information shared by users can be public, depending on users’ preferences. [...]

  3. Sarah Perez says:

    I’m very curious about how the uni-directional stuff will work, too. I can’t wait to see the UI that puts it in action.

  4. Inside Facebook - Hybrid Public/Private Model « Collecta.com Blog says:

    [...] Inside Facebook – Hybrid Public/Private Model March 5, 2009 http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/03/05/the-future-of-sharing-on-facebook-a-hybrid-publicprivate-mo… [...]

  5. New Facebook Pages getting developer attention » VentureBeat says:

    [...] information (like a status update from a brand’s Page), as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told Inside Facebook’s Justin Smith recently. That’s a complicated task, but [...]

  6. New Facebook Pages getting developer attention | HoverOver.Us | Blogs, News & Latest Web 3.0 Trends says:

    [...] information (like a status update from a brand’s Page), as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told Inside Facebook’s Justin Smith [...]

  7. Comscore US Social Networking Metrics for February 2009: Facebook Closing Gap on MySpace, Twitter Exploding says:

    [...] recent comments that it is planning on opening up the service more and more may accelerate Facebook’s growth in the coming weeks and months. Facebook [...]

  8. Facebook Now Testing News Feed Search & Public Timeline Search In Major Revamp says:

    [...] It’s important to note that updates from friends are usually private, and not on the public timeline. Although Facebook is making public timeline search available for the first time ever, it is still prioritizing communicating with friends above searching the public timeline in this iteration of Facebook search. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Inside Facebook earlier this year that the future of Facebook lies in a hybrid public/private sharing model. [...]

  9. Microsoft’s Bing Search Engine to Include Public Facebook Status Updates says:

    [...] company has already been moving in this direction. Mark Zuckerberg told us in March that Facebook is pushing more towards a hybrid private-public model for information-sharing on the [...]

  10. Google Real Time Search: Posicionamiento web en Tiempo Real | Hello Google says:

    [...] indica por tanto que FaceBook tiende hacia un modelo híbrido en el que sus usuarios tendrán que empezar a familiarizarse vivir ente contenidos públicos y [...]

  11. Facebook amenaza seriamente la hegemonía de Twitter « Miguel Guinalíu, Ph. D. says:

    [...] del microblogging. Según parece, el gigante de las redes sociales va a promover la creación de un timeline público gracias a la capacidad que tendrán los usuarios de Facebook para decidir si sus actualizaciones de [...]

  12. JOLT Digest » Digest Comment: Facebook and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act: Reimagining Copyright Jurisprudence | Harvard Journal of Law & Technology says:

    [...] [3] Justin Smith, The Future of Sharing on Facebook: A Hybrid Public/Private Model, Inside Facebook (Mar. 5, 2009), http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/03/05/the-future-of-sharing-on-facebook-a-hybrid-publicprivate-mo…. [...]

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