Tuesday, February 19, 2008

No, our chats with our private beta buddies are not private (the FriendFeed thingie)

Louis Gray posted something that completely floored me.

[A]s the service [FriendFeed] has grown more popular, and as comments or shared items are typically made visible to the entire world, it's no surprise that the idyllic concept of these conversations forever remaining private is starting to show cracks.

Um...private? I don't think so.

My FriendFeed account is accessible via the URL http://friendfeed.com/ontarioemperor. People can become my friend and read my feed. People can subscribe to my feed. People can even find my Friendfeed via Google.

So who in the heck thought their FriendFeed conversations were private? Apparently Kevin Fox did. Here are some of his comments, publicly accessible via FriendFeed of course:

Okay, ripping the blanket of implicit FriendFeed privacy through obscurity seriously wigged me out, though I of all people should have known better. I just got a little bit less innocent....

Just a realization that we're going from a small beta site filled with a small group of friends we know to a larger service. You wouldn't expect a pull-quote to come from your family's mailing list; I just need to remember that our family's growing. :-) -

Yes, yes, I know that FriendFeed is still in private beta testing, which means that it's really really exclusive. Actually, it isn't, as the fact that I have my own FriendFeed account attests.

So, what caused the ruckus? Something written by another Kevin, Kevin Scott, on FriendFeed that was picked up by Blogoscoped and something written by a Paul, Paul Buchheit, on FriendFeed that was picked up by ValleyWag.

(Incidentally, for those who don't know, Buchheit runs FriendFeed itself. And he's also (obviously) a client.)

For the record, if you don't want your FriendFeed posts to be publicly seen, you can simply uncheck the box in your settings that reads "Make my feed public (people can read it without my permission)." However, be advised that this in itself does not guarantee privacy...unless you don't let ANYONE read your feeds (and thus copy them)...and unless you host your stuff on your own server rather than FriendFeed's servers.

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