Don't Tell Michelle, Facebook privacy as it should be

10 October 2010

It’s been a quiet four months over here. My excuse is that I’ve been working. I joined a startup, Secret Sauce Partners in June and we have started to build our first product a couple of weeks later. Now I am proud (actually, quite proud) to announce that we have released a first version last week.

The problem we are solving

I’m sure you have a Facebook account. You probably have around 130 “friends”. Chances are you want to share lots of things but on several occasions you don’t want to tell everybody. Sure, you can create friend lists and post to them based on what you want to say. Or, you can pick individual friends for your message (good luck with that if you would like to speak to more than 3 friends). It would definitely make sense (and would hugely improve the state of the world!) if you only showed your Farmville achievements to your friends who play Farmville and nobody else. Especially not your colleagues during work hours.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you did not have to fiddle with setting the proper audience of your posts every single time you share something? If the people whom you post to would be determined from the content and the context of your message? Better still, if friends that join later could not see your posts prior to that?

The solution

Let’s go back to Farmville-land (I know, I know, but bear with me for a few more minutes). If you only want to show your Farmville posts to selected people the only way to achieve it is to set your default privacy to that list of selected friends prior to diving in to FarmVille. Then you set it back to your default posting setting. Not quite comfortable.

That’s where our application comes into the picture. To solve the above problem, you set up a rule that says: “Hide posts from Farmville posted during Work Hours from my Co-Workers”. You lay back, go feed your piggies, and water your sunflowers safe in the knowledge that your colleagues will not know about it. Suppose you don’t want your mom to know where you spend your weekends. Here is your rule: “Hide All posts from Foursquare from Family”. Feeling the urge to swear like a sailor some times and don’t want your little cousins or nieces to know about it? “Always hide posts with Swear Words from Kids”. Don’t want to spam your Twitter followers on Facebook? “Always hide posts from Twitter from Twitter followers”. Then, there are the “Show” rules*. For example, an even more sensible rule for Farmville posts could be: “Always show posts from Farmville to Players”. (* “Show rules” are the next feature we are going to work on.)

You see, the possibilities are endless, so why don’t you set up your own rules and give it a try? I bet you will never want to go back to (broken) standard Facebook privacy setting.

Ah, and if you don’t want your wife to know how much high-cholesterol food you eat, then “Don’t Tell Michelle”