It is with some amusement tempered by grave concern as I follow the debate over Facebook's latest so-called "privacy policies". Is the default "opt in" or "opt out"? Is it Tuesday or is it Thursday. It's hard to know what the current state of affairs up with these developments and when they impact some 400 million + members of Facebook, including all age groups. I have children (14 and 22) and we have consistently drilled into them the dangers of exposing private information and to carefully check who it is you disclose any information.

Our founding fathers believed in a free and open society, but this did not mean "anything goes". The first amendment guarantees free speech but it does not guarantee the right to know everything about anybody--or say or write anything about anybody, whether true or not with the intent to harm. Not to bore you with legal doctrine, the right to privacy was upheld by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, and no matter what your politics on the core issue of that case, there is much about our lives that we have the right to protect. To knowingly set up core policies that force people to assert that right (such as default "opt in" policies) is completely abhorrent. Fortunately the tide of public opinion can be rapidly marshaled in this age of the Internet. But despite remediation, I would caution everyone to keep out a watchful eye and make sure these communities, sites, etc. continually earn your trust.

Last week I read a story on the New York Times that you can find at, where essentially students are trying to replicate core functions of FaceBook in a peer-to-peer network to avoid the perils of a "centralized networks". While there may be some real innovation in their efforts, building around a problem is no way to solve it. Ethically socially responsible communities should protect, encrypt and give full user control to the information that is disclosed.

Our policies at FohBoh support this notion implicitly and despite any business advantage we might gain, we will not cross that line. That does not mean we won't use publicly available information from other sources (Twitter streams, open FaceBook pages, etc) in our products and services like FohBuzz, but your profiles are yours and will stay that way. In the foodservice industry we want our brand to stand for trust.

May 22 2010: At the NRA show in Chicago. You can't believe what a hot topic this is in the foodservice industry. This is why FohBoh exists, for the industry to communicate profoundly and with full choice.

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  • A painful and timely topic. I am constantly amazed at the number of Facebook (and other service) users who have been surprised to find elements of their profile floating in the ether, but equally surprised that some services take the callous view that their users must learn to protect themselves. FohBoh has set a high bar, matched by some other sites and services I appreciate, and it's reflected not only in its users' comfort but in the quality of discourse which prevails here.
  • It's true - it's easy to say things you might later regret and many of us have 'been there, done that,' and lived to regret it! But FB and FOHBOH offer wonder opportunities to share information and connect with people, meet new friends/colleagues and learn.
  • It's difficult to exercise constraint with Facebook and other networking sites. I often feel like a moth drawn to the flame. Important to remember, though, that these networks exist to increase value for their shareholders, and our personal data is the fuel that drives their growth.
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