Monday, July 30, 2007

Facebook: More than the "New Myspace"

KXL Tech Expert Segment for 30 July 2007

So I've done it... I've signed up for Facebook.

Once limited to the college crowd, Facebook opened its online doors to anyone last year and that includes myself. The popular social networking site has gained momentum in recent months, even stealing the headlines away from Fox-owned Myspace.

What sets Facebook apart from Myspace, and Friendster before that, in my opinion, is it's reliance on interactive features. More than messages and blogs, Facebook allows anyone to write software that interacts with the social networking site creating a global network of plug-ins and additions to make the site more versatile. I appreciate the lack of "pimped out" profiles in favor of clean design and easy-to-navigate consistency.

With Facebook's recent popularity comes a challenge -- known sex offenders have joined the site as well.

“We want to be a good partner to the states in attempting to address this societal problem,” Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly said. “We’ve worked with them for quite some time now, and we look forward to continuing our fruitful partnership.” (quoted in this NY Times story)

Unique in its approach, Facebook offers limited profile viewing, in many cases only a thumbnail photo, for those not connected to you in some way. You can easily connect with members of a common group (say high school alumni or coworkers), but those not included are banned from viewing your details.

Like any online site, you should be aware of anything posted. Sharing personal details can be dangerous, especially for minors. Talk with your children and monitor their activity closely. Be cautious about sharing personal details about where you live or how to reach you. While steps ahead of Myspace, Facebook's privacy controls are not perfect -- an inherent trait of social networking sites.

So go ahead, get addicted... Join Facebook! And while you're there, look me up! You can find me by searching for my email: brian (AT) brianwestbrook (DOT) com

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