Why Facebook”s “Not Now” is “Not so Good” for Privacy

Posted on September 25, 2010 in Sci-Tech

By Prateek Waghre:

By now, all the ‘Facebookers’ have probably noticed the little tweak to the Friend Request approval mechanism. Facebook has done away with the Deny option and replaced it it with a Not Now. What Now..? At first it seems like a harmless little change, but coupled with some other factors it has some chilling implications.

Privacy Settings on Facebook are just a little simpler than rocket science itself. Apart from a few who’ve actually taken the pains to figure them out most are clueless. With a burgeoning user base in India, my conversations with people spanning all age groups have led me to conclude that most people haven’t bothered to understand the privacy implications that go along with having a Facebook account. And with Facebook’s much criticized attempt to pull most users into a ‘Public is the new default‘ mode — a strikingly large majority of people still have their default settings set to ‘Everyone’. This isn’t even the bad part. What happens in such cases is — when you send an invite to a person, you continue to get their public updates until they explicitly deny your request.

With Facebook’s latest tweak — they have effectively taken that ‘Deny’ option and hidden it under layers of settings. The same settings that most people don’t understand. As MG Seigler of TechCrunch pointed out, they have implemented a de-facto follow feature, something he has been pressing for on Facebook anyway. Given Mark Zuckerberg’s open admission to his one time obsession for acquiring Twitter. This could very well be deliberate. Alright, it might be all well and good for people who have (or want) a large following. But for the average Facebooker — Dislike!

It’s almost like Facebook is suggesting that whoever sends you a request will at some point in time become your friend. Obviously they are not aware of the unsolicited friend requests many members of the fairer sex receive. I was of the opinion that the ‘Will you frand me?’ days were behind us just like the orkut era. Apparently, I was wrong. People who have not made their profiles invisible to the public at large still receive a large number unsolicited requests. In the days of Direct Deny it was just a matter of clicking a button. But now, by just stopping at Not Now, people will inadvertently allow these ‘friend requestors’ to follow their profile. Not something many people will approve of and even fewer would have intended.

So Ladies (and of course the privacy conscious gentlemen) — whenever you receive a Request from some one you don’t know or just don’t want to accept. Do not Stop at the ‘Not Now’ stage.

Go to the requests are found on the left hand side of your home page.


Then, below your ignored requests(if any) look for a link to hidden requests. Click on it to expand them and ‘Deny’. Maybe I’m being nitpicky here but if hundreds of event and application invites are never auto-hidden why are these ‘Not Now’ed Requests auto hidden?! Making them very easy to miss.


Honestly, I don’t see too much of a point of this feature anyway. You could do the same earlier by simple ignoring the request! But then, that’s just my opinion. The Privacy Concerns on the other hand, are quite real!

The writer is a Tech-Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz. This article has been reproduced from his blog post at http://www.watblog.com/2010/09/22/why-facebooks-not-now-is-not-so-good-for-privacy/