Yesterday evening Mark Zuckerberg published an article in the Washington Post, providing an update on the impending privacy changes. Included in his statement was a sentence which should put many developers on edge, “We will also give you an easy way to turn off all third-party services.” While I doubt Facebook would want to let users block all applications, it sounds like this is exactly what the company is working on.
We reached out to the company for clarification on the issue, and while they are not sharing details on the exact implementation, Andrew Noyes of Facebook provided the following statement:
We’ve spent the last couple of weeks listening to users and consulting with experts in California, Washington, D.C., and around the world. We know Facebook is well known for its innovations around sharing and we want to be equally known for innovations around user control. The messages we’ve received are pretty clear. Users appreciate having precise and comprehensive controls, but want them to be simpler and easier to use. They also like the new programs we have rolled out, but want simple and easy ways to opt out of sharing personal information with applications and websites through Facebook Platform. We’re listening to this input and incorporating it into innovations we hope to announce shortly.
Does that mean Facebook will let users block all Facebook applications? Perhaps this will let users prevent Facebook from sharing “public” information by default when users install the application. Whatever the model ends up being, it’s a good chance that simpler privacy settings could also end up cutting the potential market for application developers.
On the other hand, if Facebook users go running for the door because they don’t trust Facebook, that would also be detrimental to the Platform. Whatever ends up happening, it will become increasingly obvious that developers are secondary to users. The only question now is whether or not the new privacy settings that will be revealed by Facebook later this week will be sufficient to regain users’ trust.
Developers are also now on standby to find out how their applications, and the entire application ecosystem, could be affected by the new system.