Randi Zuckerberg, who launched a Silicon Valley themed online reality show after quitting her job handling Facebook public relations, kicked off the controversy after a family photo intended for friends went public.
The picture, copies of which were at Buzzfeed.com and elsewhere on the Internet, showed Mark Zuckerberg in a kitchen with family members dramatizing reactions to messages sent with a freshly launched “Poke” feature at Facebook.
Poke lets people send messages that self-destruct in what is seen by many as a spin on popular smartphone application Snapchat.
Some have joked that Poke is a boon for “sexting” risque pictures because senders can have them quickly erased.
Randi Zuckerberg posted a copy of the family photo to Facebook for the eyes of close friends only, but evidently it was also shared with friends of those tagged in the picture due to privacy settings at the social network.
That meant the fun photo popped up in the news feed of someone outside Randi Zuckerberg’s circle, who then shared it on popular messaging service Twitter.
From there, the photo went viral — much to Randi Zuckerberg’s chagrin.
“Digital etiquette: always ask permission before posting a friend’s photo publicly,” Mark Zuckerberg’s elder sister said in a Christmas tweet. “It’s not just about privacy settings, it’s about human decency.”
The comment sparked heated debate at Twitter and other online forums, where a vocal contingent saw poetic justice in Zuckerbergs being exposed by the way the social network handles the privacy of users.
“How terrible that someone might take something that belongs to you and use it in ways that you had not anticipated, and for which you had not given explicit permission,” Dan Lyons said facetiously in a post at ReadWrite.com.
“What kind of world are we living in when just because you post something on a website, someone else can take just take that stuff and do things with it?” he asked rhetorically before finishing with “Oh, wait…”
In a Twitter message on Wednesday, Randi Zuckerberg said the topic of online etiquette elicits “passion, debate, anger & Twitter crazies” to the extent that it might be the subject of her next show.
What you need to know about Facebook image sharing, courtesy of Forbes.
The subscriber, Vox Media marketing director Callie Schweitzer, thought the photo was a public one when she spotted it in her newsfeed. In fact, she saw it because she was friends with a person tagged in the photo, one of the Zuckerberg sisters. She was able to see the photo because of a privacy setting that you may or may not realize exists.
When you post a photo, you have a range of options as to who gets to see it, from the generic ones — Public, Friends, Fill-In-Your-Schoo-Here, Fill-In-Your-Work-Here — to any lists you may have created — Creepers, Ex-Boyfriends, People I barely remember, Family, People I Secretly Hate, etc. You may choose “Friends,” as Randi Zuckerberg did, and think your photos can then only be seen by your friends – but you’d be wrong.
By default, your photos can also be seen by the friends of any people you’ve tagged in the photo. That’s why a person that Randi Zuckerberg didn’t know — but that her sister did know — ended up seeing and sharing her photo. To change that setting, you have to choose the “Custom” option in your photo sharing settings:
Then it will let you decide who you share the photo with. To prevent friends of your tagged friends from enjoying the photo you’ve uploaded, un-check that box.
It’s not super complicated, but it’s not exactly intuitive either. When Forbes recently talked to Facebook product manager Sam Lessin about Facebook’s latest “simplified” privacy controls, he told them that they try to design privacy controls in ways that make sense to the Facebook community. “When users are surprised, that is a bad thing,” he said.
Assuming you care, you have been warned. And this is the privacy setting I want FB to take care of – STOP SENDING ME BLOODY ANNOYING SPAM “SUGGESTED POSTS”!!! Thank you.