My screed against Facebook wasn't about privacy, but I have thoughts on that, too. Sure, Facebook, the company, has a bad track record, but most of the breaches are things like releasing information about who you're a Friend with. I think that we're sensitive to stories about breaches in privacy on Facebook because using Facebook feels eerie just to start with.
I went to Turkey during winter break of last year, and it was one of those figure-out-what-I'm-doing-with-my-life-by-seeing-the-world kind of trips. (I blogged about the trip, and took [pictures][tkpic]). On Pi Day of last year, I had a party at my house. It was kind of an open-house joint, with people coming and going at will. There was kind of a lull in the evening, when a couple of great friends came over; I'd been meaning to show them my pictures and tell them about my trip and what it meant to me. We sat and ate pie and chatted. Then, about a dozen people showed up, and we shared pie and sat around the living room and my friends endured the vacation picture slideshow storytelling. Some of these friends were super-close to me, some were acquaintances, and some I'd just met that day, but the atmosphere was cozy and cheerful. I have two guesses about why sharing pictures on Facebook feels strange. 1. Although I don't mind any one of my 306 Facebook friends seeing my photos, it feels weird to think of all of them seeing them. 2. When someone comes over to your house, they might flip through a photo album if it's sitting on the coffee table. They won't flip through a photo album that's sitting on a bookshelf without asking permission first, though.
Facebook doesn't make it easy for friends to politely ask permission to see pictures. Instead, permissions to see things are managed through lists. The problem is that the list of a dozen people sitting in my living room on Pi Day doesn't match any of my social groupings. It was spontaneous. Privacy settings should be about the content first, rather than what categories Facebook friends fit into. Most of my photo albums are fine for anyone to see, they're pictures of trash cans and fire hydrants and plants. Some of my albums have pictures of my siblings, and I want to protect them. I would like it if anyone could see that I'd made an album of pictures of my siblings unwrapping presents on Christmas, click one button to ask my permission to see the pictures, I would click one button if I wanted to show them, and they'd get a notification of this. Then, I would know who's looking at my pictures and we could have a chat about them.