Communities have laws; Facebook is no exception

Do you find this as interesting as I do? Look at the box at the top of this screen capture, from Facebook:


Sometimes we forget that Facebook is more of a community than some physical neighborhoods. Folks know each other (on Facebook, most everything is only viewable by ordained “Friends”), and people care about how they are perceived by the rest of the neighborhood. As various outcries attest, this is a community whose residents truly care. Remember the brouhaha a couple of years ago over Facebook launching its News Feed, to inform every friend of a person’s activities — including the posting of relationship break-ups, social snubs, and embarrassing photographs?

For those who can’t make it out, this notice on Facebook this evening reads as follows:

Vote on Facebook’s Governing Documents

We’ve revised the two new documents we proposed to govern the site, the Facebook Principles and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, based on your feedback. Now, we want you to vote for the system of governance you think is best. Voting will close on April 23 at 11:59am PDT. Visit the Facebook Site Governance application to learn more, read the documents, and vote.

Would you expect anything less than elections and referendums within this sprawling community?

(And just how sprawling, you ask? Consider Manhattan. It has tens of millions of residents, yet its boroughs can be counted on exactly one hand. Conversely, the boroughs of Facebook are themselves in the millions — although there is much overlap*.)

*Each person’s Friends list could be considered itself a borough. Think of the overlap between people in their Friends lists as the boundaries between boroughs.

3 Replies to “Communities have laws; Facebook is no exception”

  1. Jeff, it will be a whole new ballgame with FaceBook’s “stream” open to developers. Where do FaceBook’s borders lie?

    With portable ID, and open standards, your reputation will proceed you. Everywhere.

  2. Thanks for the video link, Ann. Funny, but as you say, it also makes a point.

    And thanks for the comment, Jeff. Yes, our very definition of privacy will need to be redefined, just as in some Asian countries such as Japan, intruding into someone’s personal space requires sidling up much closer than in other cultures. What strikes me about these Facebook referenda is that they are helping Facebook probe their users’ levels of tolerance right now. One would assume this is a moving target!

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