Jeremy Felt

Facebook Applications Are Vampires And That’s (Mostly) All Right

There have been many words written recently about the liberty that Facebook and the applications installed on the Facebook platform may be taking in our online lives. [1]

It’s all mostly true and well intended. Some of it a little over the top, like this piece, but that’s good. Sharing information amongst people is an important thing and while we’re trying to figure out the best ways to do it, many words should be written.

For that reason I’m tossing another 2 cents onto the field:

Facebook applications are vampires. And that’s (mostly) all right.

You see, vampires are pretty cool. I’ve never met one, but in accordance with shows like True Blood, one could posit that lots of really awesome stuff happens when you’re friends with a vampire.

Of course, one of the things you may choose when becoming a friend with a vampire is to invite them into your home. This is dangerous and where the direct analogy to Facebook applications begins.

Normally your home is a safe haven. By default a vampire can do nothing to enter your home without your permission.[2] The second you invite a vampire into your home, you are implying a ridiculous amount of trust and if your vampire friend turns on you, at least some of the blame should be placed on yourself. Of course it sucks that your new vampire friend turned on you, but you were aware.

So that’s the predicament we’re in.

I want all this really cool stuff to happen with information and I want it to happen automatically. Right now in order for that to happen, I have to assign a ridiculous amount of trust in some really cool applications. Unfortunately, it’s only after assigning that trust that I find out whether or not it was ill advised.

That’s the end problem here. The model works at the moment, but it’s wrong. There absolutely needs to be a way in which I can assign tentative trust. A setting that says:

Yes, I really want to trust you and I can tell this is going to be the start of a beautiful relationship. But. Chill out a second and be explicit about your every move until we can establish that trust.

Earn your trust.

[1] I’ve specifically seen a bunch of traffic around Dave Winer’s piece, Facebook is scaring me, including, but not limited to Nik Cubrilovic’s Logging out of Facebook is not enough and an intensecomment storm on Hacker News. I also wrote up a Facebook application experience yesterday in Good Citizenry.

[2] For the observer of minor details, please note that I’m referring only to vampires that follow standard rules and guidelines around home entry. If there are other vampire story lines that do not have this rule, they obviously don’t fit this analogy. Still, all vampires should earn your trust.

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