We’ve all been there… You have a really great Facebook post on deck. It’s a little bit raunchy. It’s really, really funny. And it will definitely offend someone. You’re about to publish the post for your entire friends list to see when you stop. Your finger hovers over your left mouse button. You quickly consider who is about to see this super hilarious but super not politically correct post. Grandma signed up for Facebook a couple years ago but she likes a good joke as much as she likes a glass of Crown Royal, right? Your boss is also on Facebook, though. They might laugh, they might fire you. Is that a risk you want to take?
Now you understand the Facebook private profile feature.
The popularity of Facebook can also be its downfall. Interacting with your friends has become more like interacting with your friends, family, and casual acquaintances. However, it looks like Facebook wants to make their platform a little more personal with the leak of a new feature that may be coming soon.
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Matt Navarra on Twitter noticed a button for the Facebook private profile when looking through Facebook’s Android APK. Here’s the image used in the Android app:
The copy on the page for the Android app seems to indicate that Facebook wants to offer users to create a secondary profile that’s private and only available to be seen by a limited number of users. This is very reminiscent of Google+ Circles and we all know how well that turned out…
Since the service isn’t active, tapping the button doesn’t do anything. Still, it’s a sign that the social network is working on a Facebook private profile and development would seem to be pretty far along if dummy Android app pages are being created.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has been reportedly working on a similar feature called “Favorites” which makes photos only available to a certain limited group of friends. So it’s not like Facebook is coming out of the blue with the Facebook private profile feature. Clearly they have some research that would indicate people want the option to make some of their posts private without having to completely gut their friends list.
Not only is this a discussion about a new feature but this also brings up a discussion about social media and how we perceive the services that connect our lives. People are feeling increasingly more and more like the social networks are adding more stress rather than making connecting easier. When you are making a post that could potentially be seen by a couple hundred people you need to stop and consider if that post is information you want to share with all of your “friends.”
I know a lot of people with children who don’t share photos of their child on Facebook simply because of the large number of friends they have – all of whom don’t need to see updated photos of their children as they grow up. Google+ started with this premise in mind and it was actually a good idea but the execution was poor. Facebook seems to be working backwards to the conclusion that Google began with. By starting with the massive active user base, Facebook should have more success with introducing a private profile option.
There’s no indication of when the Facebook private profile feature might be made available to the general public. It will be interesting to see how the features are actually implemented and how easy it is for users to set up their private profile. After all, we want our social networking to be easier – not more complicated.
What do you think about these rumors about a Facebook private profile? Would you make use of the feature? Would it bring you back to Facebook or convince you not to cancel your account? I’m of the opinion that any additional privacy options we can get are a great step forward. Execution will be important but this is definitely the right idea for Facebook.