In college, Facebook was a really fun new thing for me that helped me organize keeping in contact with my friends at school. It was fun that people could join in on conversations that took place among my little group of friends. Plus, being able to easily keep in contact with new people I met really helped me expand my group of friends.
Gradually, however, as practically everyone I know has joined Facebook and added me (or I them) as a friend, my Facebook friends have become an extremely diverse group of people. It has become a complicated issue that anyone can join in on any conversation. Also, given the amount of personal information that has been added to Facebook over the past several years, Facebook is potentially dangerous to use for keeping in touch with people I have just met.
While Facebook’s much needed revision of privacy settings have added much better content control, there is still no transparent, convenient way to select a specific group of people to share each piece of content with. These privacy control limitations make it infeasible to manage communications such that everyone that should be included is included and that everyone that should be excluded is excluded.
My compromise up until now was to err on the side of inclusion, in the spirit of openness which has defined our generation. However, as my group of friends has diversified in their relationships to me (e.g. family, former classmate, co-worker), their own personal backgrounds/values (e.g. generation, religion, country), I feel my goal for openness should be re-prioritized behind my goal to carefully manage each of my personal relationships. This means until Facebook offers more flexibility in its privacy control settings, I am setting virtually all content to “Self only”. As a result, my friends can still tag my photos, post on my wall, etc., but none of my other friends will be granted access to that content as a result of being my friend. Content made available by a mutual friend will of course still be available. In essence, this means I am no longer giving my friends access to all of my other friends. I think this should actually be the default setting as it probably makes the most sense for most users.